OK, this has become a bugbear over the last few weeks, especially as I spent so much of my time out there.
I keep bumping into backpackers who’ve been to Halong Bay. This is no bad thing. It’s beautiful and there are plenty of tours (some basic, some dreadful and one awesome – not that I’m biased given that I was a tour guide on the awesome one). However, I still don’t get how anyone can visit the place and still pronounce the name incorrectly.
It is “ha long bay” – with the “ha” pronounced as in the word “hat” – a short “a” sound and without the final “t”.
It is not “hay long bay”.
Allowing for my inability to type Vietnamese on here, the correct name is “Vá»‹nh Háº¡ Long“. This translates literally as “the bay of the descending dragons”, a name derived from a legendary story of the bay’s creation.
If you change “ha” for “hay”, you’d end up with a completely different translation. In addition, nobody local would know where the hell you were talking about.
Oh, and no – there aren’t any bloody sharks in the bay. I got sick of answering this question on every single flipping trip I took out.
The crocs ate them all.