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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ha Long Bay

Hạ Long, VIETNAM (GeoFact of the Day) — Northeastern Vietnam, particularly the Quảng Ninh Province, boasts several characteristics: contiguous forests on mountainous terrain, a dominant coal industry compared to other Vietnamese provinces, coveted access to the Gulf of Tonkin, and many virtually untouched islands in the gulf and its smaller Ha Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vinh Hạ Long). Translating into “Where the Dragon Descends to the Sea,” Ha Long Bay contains over 1,600 islands and small islets — most of which are not inhabited by people — in addition to waterside caves and hundreds of tall limestone pillars. Islands and islets in Ha Long Bay include Đảo* Cát Bà (largest island in near the bay), Đảo Quá Muỗm, Đảo Quan Lạn, Đảo Trà Bản, Hòn Công Chéo Nam, Hòn Mây, Hòn Vạn Buồng, Hòn Vạn Cảnh, and Sha Pak Wan. With an approximate size of over 1500 square kilometers and 580 square miles, Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (↗).

The Legend of Zelda Tarasque
The bay's mythical origin story consists of two main legends involving Tarasque, a folkloric marine dragon (hence Ha Long Bay's nickname above). One legend describes the Tarasque dragon creating a bunch of valleys by walking on mountainous terrain and crumbling it. Soon, all of those valleys filled up with water and subsequently formed Ha Long Bay. A similar legend purports that Tarasque used its powerful tail to carve out crevices and valleys, which all flooded once Tarasque landed in nearby water and thereby helped form Ha Long Bay. The six-legged Tarasque's head resembles that of a lion, while its spiky shell gives Tarasque a menacing turtle-like appearance. Visiting tourists to islands in Ha Long Bay might come for a chance to witness the magical Tarasque, although the area's picturesque views are worthwhile enough!

* Đảo means island in Vietnamese.

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