Buying Trip to Halong Bay, Vietnam Candle Factory
By Priyanka Kapahi
Who hasn’t heard of Halong Bay? Or who hasn’t seen a picture of Halong Bay? Well, I had not until our buying trip took us to this beautiful place! We went there with no expectations. I really had no idea what the place was. All I knew was that one of our candle suppliers had their factory located amidst this gorgeous landscape.
We reached Halong bay early in the evening after a two-hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City and three more hours of driving from the Hanoi airport. When we arrived I just wanted to take my camera out and shoot away at the amazing scenery, but I was thinking to myself, "I need to get to work and get images of our candles and the candle factory!"
To our surprise, the candle supplier took us sightseeing on the first day. I was so excited, but I couldn’t show it as we are supposed to be serious buyers, right? We should be working and not sightseeing! All I can say is we got lucky.
This wonderful landscape of limestone cliffs enshrouded in mist cascading into the gentle waters became a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1994. It’s not the cliffs themselves that make Ha Long Bay unique, but rather their sheer number. This huge bay is dotted with nearly 2,000 mostly uninhabited jagged limestone islands. Created over millions of years, tectonic forces slowly thrust the limestone above the water-line. During this process waves lapping against the stone carved out a number of huge, striking caves.
Over the ages, Vietnamese fishermen with too much time on their hands began to see shapes in the stone shapes of the islands, and named them accordingly — Turtle Island, Human Head Island, Chicken Island and so on. But one of the most fascinating cultural features are of the floating fishing villages, where houses are set atop barges year round, the inhabitants catching and cultivating fish throughout.
Legend says the bay got its name Ha Long, which means “descending dragon”, when the Chinese were invading Vietnam and the gods sent dragons that spat out jewels that became hundreds of islands to block the Chinese invaders. Today these “jewels” are what we know as the beautiful islands that make up Ha Long Bay and each one is different — they’re made up of jungles, caves and grottos.
The amazing, magnificent candle factory
We had not got over this spectacular place yet and bam! The next day we go to this huge magnificent candle factory. I am sure much of the world's candles are from Vietnam and China, or perhaps this very factory we visited.
We enter and its not one or two buildings, but four buildings with thousands of workers everywhere. Everybody dressed in blue coats, like doctors doing some kind of surgery. Totally engrossed in candle making. They showed us every step of how a candle is made. I cannot even express in words what we saw. So many processes involved to make one candle!
Although what we saw in person was a totally different experience, the pictures give you some idea of what a process candle making is!
Candle Making Checklist
To decide how much wax to use, pour water in the mold. Transfer the water into a measuring container. For every 1/4 pint of water, you need 1/4 pound of wax.
Candle Making Steps
- Cut wick 1" longer than the height your candle will be. Prime the wick by coating it in melted wax, let it harden, then dip in wax and harden a second time. Priming helps it to burn better and repels moisture.
- Melt wax over medium low heat. Stir in color and fragrance while melting. If using a dye disk, grate it into the wax. Keep thermometer in the wax. Never let wax reach the flash point of 300 degrees F!) Paraffin wax usually melts by 140 degrees F.
- Pour wax carefully into mold.
- As wax begins to harden, push the wick down into the candle.
- Let cool.
Every time I look at the candles in our stores I remember this day and it reminds me of the hard work and effort that went into making it. Each candle is made with love, passion and a beautiful energy. It also reminds me of Halong Bay and the fond memories of our visit--an experience we will never forget.
All in all this was fantastic trip, full of unexpected surprises. It's a smart tactic by the suppliers, building a factory in a place like Halong Bay. We will always remember the scenic landscape and wish to combine business with pleasure.
I'm looking forward to my next exciting, adventurous buying trip. Can’t wait.