Vietnam’s stunningly beautiful Halong Bay is a World Heritage Site and a kayaker’s dream but Mark Harris found the legends of pearl-spitting dragons as enticing as the emerald-green waters and countless grottoes
Vietnam has had to put up with more than its fair share of intruders: the US, of course, and the French and Japanese before them. But peer back into history and this beleaguered country was repelling enemies when dragons still roamed the Earth.
The legend goes that on the eve of a naval attack from China, the god-like Jade Emperor dispatched a family of dragons to protect Vietnam. Spitting countless pearls into the path of the invading fleet, the dragons caused the Chinese boats to founder.