A Letter Home

Bailieborough Community School

Halong Bay

Dau Go Island,



Dear Ma,

I can already hear you berating me for sounding like a sheep, as you always kindly put it. Your heavy breath filled with expletives, followed by you telling me, ‘you sound as common as dishwater.’ It’s like a new world out here. Vietnam is by far my favourite place on this backpacking trip. These islands haven’t been affected by the toxicity of human habits. I can stand at one point, turn any direction and travel metres or even miles and I am still met with this place’s infinite beauty. When I think of home, I think of its hundred shades of green but as I stand here, celestial colour envelops my eyes. The exotic water is as crystal clear as the glass angels you used to keep away from me and my accident prone fingers. The water reflects the natural artistry of these lands. The bright blue is outshone by the white heavenly sand. If I lay back, my natural skin tone would be the perfect camouflage.  Nature’s perfume clogs my senses everywhere I turn. Halong Bay is littered with caves. I discovered these caves are enriched with Vietnam’s magical history. I saw glimpses into this country’s past as I explored the Thien Cung cave in the north of Dau Go Island. As you can imagine I’m a sweltering mess compared to these scenic views. My back was weighed down by my tendency to over pack. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Remember the time you packed snow boots in the middle of July? We we’re only going to Wexford. The trip to the entrance of the cave began with my unsteady feet on a winding path, covered in centuries carried debris.  I came across a man that seemed as old as the stories he told, he informed me that the cave’s name means ‘Heavenly Palace’.  It’s believed this was the home of the Dragon King and his bride May where their wedding was attended by gods at the heart of the cave.  I wasn’t surprised to hear this legend once I entered the steep slope and was carried into the boundless tunnels that opened to its deep core. If I was to kick the smallest pebble, the noise would be mightier than expected. My breath could be heard in the beating echoes of the hollow rocks. The stalagmites stood high like the gods that came before them. Stalactites loomed overhead casting elongated shadows in the form of the Dragon King’s guests. Music fills the cave as the wind plays these natural formations. I was insignificant in this grand size cavern. Parts of the path are drowning in jungle that threatens to cover the man-made stairways. As light seeps into the exit of the cave, I am met once again with the god painted scene of Vietnam.

I’m home in twenty two days, put the kettle on and I’ll share my adventures with you.