Touching the heritage on Vietnam’s first boutique cruise
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Halong Bay is the result of geological activity from plate tectonics processes over millions of years. However, in the mind of the Vietnamese people, it contains rich folklore, myth and imagination. Halong Bay was born out of legends and it makes it even more mysterious.
The birth of Ha Long Bay was associated with legend about dragons. God sent the Mother Dragon and her Children to help the Vietnamese fight foreign invaders. The dragons sprayed out pearls that turned into thousands of stone islands in the sea, creating a solid wall to block the attack of enemy ships. The location where the Mother Dragon landed was Halong Bay.
The legend of the islands and caves is very much related to the history of the nation.
Dau Go Cave
The legend of Dau Go cave says that “In the war against Nguyen – Mong, Tran Hung Dao had put a lot of pointed wooden spikes in the Bach Dang River to guard against enemy ships. Because there were so many pieces of wood left, the fisherman called it “Đầu Gỗ”, meaning “Pieces of wood remaining”. Another legend tells that this is the place where Tran Hung Dao came to hide the pointed wooden spikes to prepare for the Bach Dang Battle , and the name “Dấu Gỗ” signifies “ a place to hide wood”. The Merveille de Monde book of France (World Wonders) was published in 1938 and it called Dau Go Cave, Grotte des merveilles (Cave of Wonders).
Unlike Dau Go, the legend of the Virgin cave was a tragic love story. Virgin cave is located on Bo Hon Island along with Surprise Cave, Fairy Lake Cave and Luon Cave.
Legend has it that “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young lady who lived in a poor family that worked as hired labor for the owner of a fishing vessel. The young girl was forced to become the concubine of the owner. The girl refused because she had a boyfriend, who was going out to sea to prepare for their wedding day. Because she didn’t agree, the owner exiled her to a deserted island. Hungry and exhausted, she turned into stone on a rainy night. Her lover went out to sea to find her but a storm caused his boat to break and it drifted to a deserted island. In the distance, he recognized the girl but his words were swept away by the wind. He used a rock to knock on the cliffs to let her know that he had come. Knocking until he was exhausted and his hands bled, he also turned into stone. The place where the petrified girl became Virgin Cave, and opposite lies Trong cave (Male Cave) where the young man turned into stone.”
Hanh cave is 9 km from Cam Pha, 20 km from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf. This is the longest cave in Halong Bay with a length of cave about 1,3 kilometer. Inside, there is a temple called Tam Co Temple (Three Girls Temple). It is said that there were three girls who came to this cave. Because the cave was so beautiful, they forgot the time and drowned as the tide rose and submerged them. They turned into gods of the sea, thus local people built this temple in order to comfort their souls.
Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Archipelago consists of 367 islands, including Cat Ba Island in the south of Halong Bay, off Hai Phong City. It is known as the pearl of the Gulf of Tonkin and is the largest island of the total 1969 islands in Halong Bay. According to local legend, Cat Ba stems from the name Cac Ba (meaning Missus). For a time, there was an old woman who inhabited the island. She grew vegetables and supplied food to the men who fought invaders on a neighboring called Cat Ong (Mister).
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The ornate chopsticks are crafted with silver, five-clawed dragons aboard Emperor Cruises.
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful and virtuous princess named Kim Ngan. The kingdom of her father was attacked by barbarians, and in an effort to retain his kingdom, the king promised to give the hand of his daughter to the man who would repel the invaders. A dignitary at his court proposed that command of the troops be given to his son, but alas, he was soundly defeated in battle.
The task was then given to Giao Thuy, the son of an impecunious woodcutter, who volunteered to go and meet the enemy. The young man was brave and intelligent, and he ultimately succeeded in driving out the barbarians.
True to his promise, the king ordered the wedding to be celebrated. However, the jealous mandarin stealthily added poison to the bridegroom’s wine cup, who was thus killed. The disconsolate princess died of sorrow, and she and her husband were interred in the same grave.
Some time later, from the burial mound sprang a vigorous shoot, which in time, grew into a tall tree. The king named the tree ‘Kim Giao’ in memory of his daughter Kim Ngan and her husband Giao Thuy. Later, it was discovered that the wood from the tree had the miraculous property of detecting the presence of poisonous substances. Hence the custom of using Kim Giao wood began.
Kim Giao Wood
Kim Giao (Podocarpus fleurii) is a tree which can grow to a height of 20-30 metres. Its trunk has a diameter of 80-130 centimetres, and its wood is yellowish-brown in color. It grows on mountainous slopes at an altitude of 1,000 meters and more, in the North and Centre of the country. More and more rarely found now, it calls for urgent protective measures.
It is found in most of the mountainous provinces of Vietnam, especially in Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa and Nghe An, Quang Nam provinces. The species occurs sparsely in primary and slightly disturbed evergreen rain forests at elevations of 200-1000 m, usually mixed with Madhuca pasquieri, Vatica odorataand and Quercus bambusaefolia.
The wood is precious and rare, and was often used to make chopsticks for the Kings. It is said that Kim Giao chopstick will show bubbles and turn red when it touches poisoned food. White Kim Giao wood is, fine, light, very beautiful and durable. Used for artworks, chopsticks and cabinet work, the leaves are made into medicine to cure coughs. It is also prominently used as an ornamental tree in parks, along avenues and at pagodas and temples
At Cuc Phuong and Cat Ba National Parks, the species grows in groups and is the main species in some areas. An undemanding species, it thrives on good sites with deep, well-drained soils developed from limestone.
Can Chanh Palace was the working place of Emperor and where the Emperor often hosted important ceremonies and festivities of the country. It was also a place to treat important affairs, emissaries or organize the royal party.
The experience manager of Emperor Cruises Halong’s Thomas said: “Our Can Chanh Palace Restaurant was designed with a royal atmosphere, and artistic masterpieces from well- known Vietnamese artists adorn the walls. Therefore, you can enjoy Vietnamese culture, history and gourmet cuisine.” “Our crockery and cutlery are a sophisticated selection for the Royal party. You will find ceramic bowls and plates which are decorated with images of five-clawed dragons on the cruise. The chopsticks and toothpicks were made from Kim Giao wood, found at the nearby Cat Ba Island. The ornate chopsticks are crafted with silver dragons with five claws to symbolize The Emperor”.
Influenced by Hue Royal Cuisine, the food on Emperor Cruises (www.halongemperorcruises.com) is a careful consideration of authentic ingredients, cooking methods, nutrition, and decoration. Dishes on the cruise are always freshly cooked with the best local ingredients, emphasizing seafood, and under the skillful hands of our professional chefs. Each course is an artwork with beautiful presentation and full of delicious flavors.
“Because of it specific characteristics which can change its color from white when contact with any poisonous substance, the Emperor preferred to use it in his table set. Nowadays, you don’t need to worry about it changing color, and we have created dishes full of Royal heritage for your pleasure aboard Emperor Cruises Halong. Paired with the food, you are treated to diverse options of all-inclusive drinks such as local beers, premium spirits and distinctive wines chosen by our certificated sommeliers,” added Thomas.
Inspired by the lavish lifestyle of Emperor Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam, this masterpiece is designed to reflect the style of the 1930s, and be a haven for the most sophisticated travelers to enjoy Vietnamese culture, history, and gourmet cuisine. The cruise is where glamor and heritage combine to create the epitome of elegance and aristocracy. Each guest will be treated like an emperor and experience the best of the best, in privacy, and with every tiny detail attended to.