cruises

Exploring North Vietnam: HaLong Bay—a Seaplane Ride, Cruise, Cave, and Pearl Farm

Our last stop in Vietnam was HaLong Bay—a fairyland of 1,600 odd-shaped, karst limestone mini-mountains rising out of the sea. It was first recorded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, and in 2000, the bay, with its significant geomorphic features, was recognized for the second time as a billion-year-old living proof of Earth’s formation.

HaLong means “descending dragon.” In myth, the bay was created by a dragon that thrashed around the land on the edge of the ocean, breaking it up and creating the bay’s islands. According to geology, at the end of the last ice age when the glaciers melted, the sea level rose, inundating the area and turning hills into islands

To really experience this famous place, we booked a 3-day cruise with Paradise Cruises, but our first adventure when arriving was a seaplane ride over the bay with Hai Au Aviation out of Tuan Chau Marina. The views were magnificent. That night, we stayed in Paradise’s hotel on shore and enjoyed the music of musicians playing traditional Vietnamese instruments.

By the next morning, I had fallen sick again with what appeared to be a bad cold, but I knew if I could just make it to the ship, I could get to our stateroom with my last few ounces of energy. There I stayed for the 3 days, mostly bundled up and relaxing on the balcony, enjoying the scenery, and chatting with a lovely young Vietnamese woman who brought me B,L, and D (she said she was looking for a Caucasian husband like “Sir”—which is what she called Jerry—) while Jerry went off on the excursions and took lots of great photos.

The first excursion was to Sung Sot Cave—the largest and most spectacular grotto/cave in Vietnam. Discovered by the French in 1901 (when France controlled Vietnam as part of French Indochina) and originally named “Grotte des Surprises,” it’s approximately 25m (and 50 steps) above sea level, and 10,000 square meters large, comprising two chambers. The second chamber can hold a thousand people at one time.

Jerry also climbed the 400 steps to the observation deck at the summit of Ti Top Island, named after a visit by famous Russian cosmonaut Gherman Stepanovich Titov. He was the second person to orbit the earth and first to spend an entire day in space. His statue is on the island.

One of our ship’s tenders took Jerry to a pearl farm to see how pearls are grown, and he also went by rowboat to a floating fishing village, Cua Van, which is comprised of 100 households and 733 people. Every day, locals roam around the village by boat to collect garbage and floating waste to reduce the risk of water pollution.

Actually, when we pulled into the Tuan Chau Marina, I was sad to leave such a beautiful place. A pre-arranged car took us back to Hanoi to a tiny hotel Jerry had found near the airport. Cost: $14/night, and that included a lavish breakfast and that delicious Vietnamese egg coffee. It was a memorable 3-week visit to N. Vietnam, during which we gained some understanding of this country and its friendly people. It was also another reminder that people all over the world are the same underneath skin color and customs.

Click on a photo, then arrow to move back and forth. Enjoy.

 

Categories: Asia, cruises, culture, nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Uncategorized, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge: Passing Under the Bridge

Colorful ripples reflect our boat’s passage under and past this remarkable color-and-pattern-changing bridge on the Yangtze River.

Remind you of anything?

Categories: Architecture, Art, Asia, bridges, China, cruises, engineering, Photography, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Sampling of Southeast Asian Cultures

Last September, we embarked from Shanghai on a 17-day cruise that made port at Nagasaki, Japan; Busan, South Korea; Taipei, Taiwan; Hong Kong; Vietnam; Bangkok, Thailand; and finally Singapore. My story (with photos) of the journey is featured in the Spring issue of TravelWorld International magazine, starting on page 6.  http://issuu.com/travelworld/docs/_twi_magazine_spring_2015/1. Please enjoy the tour.

Categories: Architecture, Art, Asia, China, cruises, culture, Da Nang, dragons, Photography, Published Work, Thailand, Travel, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fjords of Norway

Norway fjord

A farming community perches on the shore of a fjord in Norway

Norway belongs to the sea. Along it’s western edge, the forces of water have carved a lacy filigree of bays, inlets and fjords like very few places on earth. It’s the fjords, of course, that capture the imagination. Ice Age glaciers creeping slowly across landmasses, carving out narrow channels that eventually fill with water as the glacier melts and retreats, and seawater encroaches. And they’re deep. Some, such as Sognefjord, plunge more than 4,000 feet below sea level, as deep as the height of mountains bordering them.

snowy mountaintop above a Norwegian fjord

Even in late June, a snowy landscape crowns the top of a mountain above a Norwegian fjord.

viewing platform above a Norwegian fjord

It looks like you could walk off the end of this viewing platform above the fjord. The glass front offers a majestic and spine-tingling view of the fjord below.

Where fjords meet the sea, glacially formed underwater valleys mix with other cross valleys to form a complex array of channels. These run parallel to the coast and are walled off from the sea by a chain of mountainous islands and rocks, making a protected passage along much of the entire 995-mile sea journey from Stavanger to North Cape, Norway.

viewing platform above a fjord, Norway

The fjord viewing platform from another angle.

During the winter, towns deep in fjord valleys can be cut off from the outside world. Snow buildups not only clog roads but can unleash avalanches of snow and rock that plunge into the water, sometimes resulting in fjord tidal waves over 100 feet high.

cruise ship, Geiranger, Norway

Our cruise ship anchored off the small town of Geiranger (pop. 250), Norway, at the terminus of the Geirangerfjord. During the 4-month summer tourist season, 140-180 cruise ships carrying several hundred-thousand people come here to experience the spectacular scenery. Nine-mile-long Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But in summer, cruise-ship passengers like us find fjords welcoming and awe inspiring, like peaceful blue-green lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains and replete with ethereal waterfalls and picturesque towns.

cruise ship deck in Geirangerfjord

Waiting in the Geirangerfjord until the tenders start up and ferry us to land.

waterskiing in a fjord

waterskiing in a fjord (disclaimer: shot through the window of a moving bus and between trees as we flew past them).

Categories: cruises, environment, nature, Norway, Photography, Stock Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

The pretty Old Town of Stavanger, Norway.

Looking like a collection of doll houses, this perfectly manicured community is the residential part of Gamle (old town) Stavanger, on the southwestern coast of Norway. Lovingly restored and maintained, 173 wooden houses from the 1700s wind along narrow walkways paved with cobblestones. It’s the largest collection of such houses in Western Europe.

Stavanger was originally nothing more than a pretty village with a well-sheltered harbor. It’s growth spurt started in 1125 when an English bishop came to build a cathedral. Like in so many other places during the early Middle Ages, the cathedral made the town, almost overnight. More people meant more commerce, and Stavanger grew into a fishing capital. Once herring stocks became scarce in the 1800s, the town turned to sardines, and a canning factory was built. By 1900, there were more than 50 sardine canneries here. Shipbuilding also filled the town’s coffers, and then, in the 1960s, Stavanger became Norway’s oil capital after oil was discovered in the North Sea.

For this shot, I had a perfect vantage point from an upper deck of our cruise ship.

Categories: Architecture, cruises, culture, History, Norway, Photography, Stock Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Vikings, Trolls, Ski Jumps and Belgian Lace

My sincere apologies to all of you who have been following my blog, waiting for new posts and responses to your comments, and wondering why you’ve not heard a peep out of me in three weeks. As it turns out, I had an opportunity to go on a very last-minute trip—a cruise along the west coast of Norway and a few other spots, but mostly Norway. Internet service on the ship was spotty at best, and there was virtually no time to find and use Internet facilities on shore. I just got back a few hours ago bearing photos, stories and a certificate proclaiming my crossing of the 66th parallel north—into the Arctic Circle, land of the midnight sun. Needless to say, I’m anxious to share and will do so as soon as I’ve sorted myself out and claimed some much-needed sleep.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy the Aloha Festivals’ pa’u rider (before and after) and a few other photo posts (coming in the next few days) I prepared just before I left, in the hopes I could stay in communication while gone.

With fond aloha,
Jennifer

Categories: cruises, Norway | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

The Grey Traveller

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do. So throw off the bowlines,sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

Tesla Sun Travel

Tesla Sun Travel is place to get the latest travel tip and tricks, of what others are saying social media, not forgetting cheap air line tickets and hotels from around the world

Chasing Destino

Free mom hugs

The words untrammelled

exploring life.. living love.. treasuring experiences.. spreading happiness

Norm 2.0

Photography, fiction, humor, opinions, and whatever else I feel like posting

gadflyonthewallblog

"To sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth."

10 Cities/10 Years

the road is life

Animalcouriers

pet transport services: UK, Europe & overseas

The Abject Muse

aka SusanWritesPrecise

thedihedral.wordpress.com/

Climbing, Outdoors, Life!

Recipe in a Bottle

Connecting to Friends, Old and New, Through Recipes, Gardens, and Dinner Parties

Life in Minutes

Living in the moment

%d bloggers like this: