Ha Long Bay running for world’s elite 7

The time has come for people across the world to nominate Ha Long Bay as one of the seven natural wonders of the world via the website http://www.natural7wonders.com/, an official from the Viet Nam Administration of Tourism (VAT) has said in an open letter.

The website, launched by the Swiss NGO New Open World Organisation early July in Lisbon, is promoting 13 well-known natural landscapes over the world, including Ha Long Bay, the Baikal sea in Russia and Redwood National Park in the US, as counterparts to the seven modern wonders of the world.

The results of o­nline voting will be announced o­n August 8, 2008.

Deputy General Director of the VAT Pham Tu said they hoped people all across the globe would nominate Ha Long Bay as soon as possible to encourage more votes well ahead of the deadline.

"This is a good opportunity to broadcast the image of Viet Nam as a hospitable country with abundant tourism potential", he said.

Ha Long Bay, with a 120 km stretch of coastline, is part of the Bac Bo Gulf in the northeast of the country. Built along its shores are Ha Long City, Cam Pha Town and part of Van Don island district with tourist hot spot Cat Ba Island out to the southwest.

The bay’s most outstanding features are its 1,969 islands jutting out of the sea, their elegant and fanciful shapes earning 989 of them names like Fighting Cock and Elephant.

The beauty of these natural wonders prompted UNESCO, for the second time, to recognise 434 sq.km of the area including 775 islands, as a World Natural Heritage site in 2000. The bay had first been listed at the 18th Session of UNESCO’s Council of World Heritage held o­n 17 December 1994 in Thailand. Surrounding areas were classified as national beauty spots in 1962 by the Ministry of Culture and Information.

With Dau Go Island to the west, Ba Ham Lake to the south and Cong Tay Island to the east, the world heritage site looks like a giant triangle, which according to local legend, was formed soon after the Viet people established their country.

As the folk story goes, in the face of fierce invaders, the Jade emperor called a mother dragon and her children down to earth. As the invader’s boats advanced to shore, the dragons descended, releasing from their mouths a multitude of pearls that instantly became islands, acting like great walls against the enemy ships. The vessels were going at such a speed that they couldn’t stop and ended up smashing into pieces o­n the rocks.

Today the shape of the mother dragon can be traced in Ha Long itself and her children in Bai Tu Long, the waving of the dragons’ tails creating Long Vi, present day Tra Co peninsula, forming a fine sand beach over 10km long.