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Caving is the recreational pastime of exploring wild generally non-commercial cave systems.
The beautiful Halong Bay in Vietnam with its 2000 towering limestone islands and islets offered me my first opportunity to see limestone caves.
As it was a conducted tour, it was not exactly “wild” but as a first step it was perfect.
It still meant a long climb up to the midpoint of this hill:
With a bag full of camera equipment weighing me down, on the way up I had many deep realisations and made many resolutions about getting fit. Finally many huffs & puffs later we reached the entrance. Surprisingly the heavy humidity that was debilitating until that point disappeared and a cool soft air enveloped us.
The sights that struck my eyes were totally worth all the hard work of getting there. It was like entering another world.
The name of this World Heritage Site means “where the dragon descends into the sea” contains the legend about the origin of these stunning islands with many layers of beauty.
According to local legend, when Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders. To assist the Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. Under magics, numerous rock mountains abruptly appeared on the sea, ahead of invaders’ ships; the forward ships struck the rocks and each other. After winning the battle, the dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth, and then decided to live in this bay. The place where the mother dragon descended was named Hạ Long. [ref: Wikipedia]
Leaving the caves felt like I had not had enoughand I am certain that had I stayed for another day, I would have left with the the same unquenched feeling. The marvel, the novelty of the entire experience – of seeing something that I had never seen before, of being in a space that held so many centuries of stories was as enormous as the caves themselves and my arms felt too small to embrace it all and capture it completely. Maybe I will go back – maybe someday this adventure sport that is within reach could draw me in again…. maybe I will do the real thing with wild caves & bats and all!
Why is it that the more I see, the more hungry I get?
hi-res images may be purchased & downloaded from jainamishra.com
Caving in Halong Bay – First Adventure