Situated in the centre of the UNESCO declared World Heritage area, Sung Sot or Surprise Grotto is on Bo Hon Island. It is certainly the most impressive of the grottoes of Halong Bay. From the wharf, you climb 25 metres up from the sea level via stone stairs to enter the grotto mouth. Inside you'll find thousands of stalactites and stalagmites lining the 500-metre paved passage through the 10,000 sq. metre cave.
"Ha Long" is literally translated as "Bay of Descending Dragons." Prior to the 19th century, this name was not recorded in any document or archive. When mentioning the present-day Quang Ninh Sea or Ha Long Bay, old historical books often referred to them by the names of An Bang, Luc Thuy or Van Don. Not until the late 19th century did the name of Halong Bay appear on a French Marine Map. “The Hai Phong News”, a French newspaper of the time, had an article, “Dragon appears on Ha Long Bay”, reporting the following story:
I took a quick trip to photograph Saigon last weekend. Officially named Ho Chi Minh City, the locals still refer to the capital of the communist South Vietnam by the name it was given when it was a French Colony (1862-1948). Its history is a very interesting one (you can read it on Wikipedia) and while I was there I took the opportunity to visit the Independence Palace, where at 10:45 on 30 April 1975, a tank of the North Vietnamese Army bulldozed through the main gate, ending the Vietnam War. Click here or on the images below to see the slideshow.(It was supposed to be 48 hours, but United...
For some reason I connected with this old lady selling vegetables at the side of the road in a village just outside of Tra Vinh in South Vietnam. I think we were both intrigued by each other. There was I, sweating in the mid-day sun under the weight of a ton of camera gear, with a sunburnt face. There she was with a big toothless smile, happy eyes and a beautiful red cloth holding her hat in place while she prepared portions of vegetables for sale. Neither of us spoke the language of the other, but settled for an exchange of beaming smiles instead.