Pearl Farm Village in Halong Bay – what’s really happening to the oysters.

Trekchick26 reporting undercover here at the Pearl Farm Village of Halong Bay, Monday February 1, 2016. I’m here under the guise of a tourist on an overnight cruise of the bay. We have arrived at the farm to witness the procedure in which pearls are made. But I’ve managed to interview Vivienne Oyster, one of many Akoya oysters common here to northern Vietnam. She has agreed to share her experiences of life as an oyster on the “pearl farm.” 

So Vivienne Oyster, what is life like here at the “pearl farm”.

I’ve been here for nearly three years. I mainly spend my time in the water, locked in a cage with some of my friends. I don’t know where my family have gone. One day all of us were taken out of the water, and when I returned, all of my family were missing along with half of my friends. 

What happened to you when you left the water? 
I was really scared, especially when I was lying in my cage with all my friends and family out of the warmth of the water. Suddenly we were all thrown onto this hard wooden floor and an alien being with ten hands and a cone head started to reach for my friends and family, staring at us, then separating us into different groups.  

 


You were taken into an operating room. What happened there?

My memories here are hard to recollect, but I remember being locked into this cold metal clamp. Suddenly the alien with ten hands was opening me up, and I felt a metal object inside of me. The aliens inserted a round coral bead. I wanted to remove it but they placed it deep within so I couldn’t reject it. I can feel it inside of me now, growing. I’m scared. I have no idea what will happen.  

 

It is here I’ve had to end my interview with Vivienne as another group of humans arrive at the farm. But I did manage to continue my own investigations on what Vivienne’s fate might be, and unfortunately it doesn’t end well.

Only 30% of the oysters that undergo “the operation” survive to be placed back into the water. They can live here peacefully for up to 3 years before they are removed for one fatal last time.Vivenne’s family didn’t survive the surgical procedure. 

The last moments of life of an oyster at the hands of the aliens occurs when they are opened alive. With a swift flick of the knife, the inserted coral bead is ejected in the form of a pearl and the oyster dies. 

 
The success rate to produce a pearl is only 40%. All the successfully grown pearls are then sold at the shop onsite. 

The entire procedure of pearl harvesting has disturbed me deeply, and I believe this might be a perfect case for Fox Mulder and Dana Scully of the X-Files. 

This is trekchick26 signing off here at the “pearl farm” here in Halong Bay, Vietnam.  






Cruising Halong Bay, Vietnam

I’ve always sworn off vacationing on a boat. It has more to do with not being able to get off it when I want to, the risk of uncontrolled sea sickness of which I can be prone to, and the feeling of being trapped on a floating vessel, in a small cabin. But on Sunday January 31, 2016, I found myself on the Royal Palace with the tour company Halong Bay Cruises No Limit Group for an overnight trip on Halong Bay.

Halong Bay, located in north east Vietnam, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, occupying an area of 1,533 square kilometres and 1,960 to 2000 islets, most of which are limestone, created over a period of 500 million years.

To reach Halong Bay from Hanoi, the mini bus journey took three and a half hours. But it was worth it, especially getting a glimpse of Vietnamese life  in the towns and rural villages outside of Hanoi city.

On arrival at the port, it’s a busy scene, even for the end of January, with people waiting to embark their vessel, and those waiting to leave. But the transition onto our boat, the Royal Palace was quick, and I found myself excited at this first time experience ahead. 

In spite of my need to reenact certain scenes from  James Cameron’s movie, Titanic, while on board with a fellow passenger (I’m flying Jack” photo moment taken) I hate to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise experience, with one night more than enough to not only see Halong Bay, but to live life on a boat! Here are my top five moments on board;

My cabin

Having stayed in three different hotels in the one week I spent in Hanoi, my cabin on board was my favourite of all the rooms. I loved the wood pannelling, the cute and small bathroom which was adequate in size, my double bed with rose petals scattered, but most of all, the two windows that revealed the beauty of Halong Bay. I was so warm and cosy in bed, I could have stayed there all day watching the limestone karsts and isles of varying shaped and sizes drift past my window.

  
Hang Sung Sot – Cave of Surprises

There were other tour boats and groups when we arrived at Hang Sung Sot and a lot of steps up into the first cave, but the trek is well worth the effort. The views of the bay from two look out points are great photo opportunity moments, and the second and last cave is very grande and impressive indeed with some unusual rock formations.

  
Kayaking on the Bay

I love kayaking, and a paddle on Halong Bay was part of my overnight cruise package. So after our cave hike, we were on the water in double kayaks with forty minutes to explore the area we anchored at. Passing under a limestone karst, we entered a smaller bay surrounded by more more towering limestone. It was so incredibly peaceful,  until I challenged two other kayaks to a quick race across the bay.  

 
Eating like kings and queens

The food we were ate was amazing! On arrival, and after a briefing, we were served a 5 course lunch while the boat journeyed into Halong Bay. Dinner also consisted of 5 courses with the food so beautifully presented, it was worthy of any top class restaurant. And as a vegetarian, was well catered to.

Playing dress up

On the first night, we were given an opportunity to wear Vietnamese traditional clothing, which was loads of fun! With the King traditionally dressed in yellow, me and my friendly fellow passengers had some great laughs as we posed in our colourful gowns.  

 
Tai Chi  morning session to get the day started

As much as I wanted to lie in bed all morning, I dragged my well rested self up to the top deck for a tai chi class. I’ve never done tai chi before, but my first ever class was one to remember, with limestone karsts to inspire me.

  
We also visited a pearl farm on the bay to learn how pearls are made. This is an interesting experience if you are into pearls, but as they have never appealed to me,  I was somewhat horrified by the entire process of how they are created. I can only liken the experience to some form of oyster alien abduction of which an appropriate blog piece is due to follow. And the short cooking class was fun as well!

The staff on board our boat were great, and our host and tour leader Daniel was friendly, helpful and informative. It’s a definitely a tour company I’d recommend for your visit to Halong Bay.