Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

From Hanoi City we got on a comfortable transit bus and headed to Ha Long Bay, 3 to 4 hours drive south east. We caught a good glimpse of Vietnam’s countryside, a lush, green expanse, peppered with rice fields and villages big and small. There is still a large number of people everywhere, and traffic is still a dense, tumultuous river of people and vehicles. Merchants selling bread assemble right off of the freeway, and customers swerve their cars and mopeds off the road to buy from them. Even so, at least in Hanoi people tend to return to their own sides of the road after passing. We stop at a tourist shopping location, but our shopping makes us late for our boat, and the bus driver speeds like a demon, avoiding near-crash after near-crash. Its a hectic ride.

Once we arrived in Ha Long Bay (pronounced How Long), we boarded a fairly large paddle boat called the Emeraude. After we were shown our rooms and introduced to the crew, we set sail in a group of other similarly designed boats chartered by tourist groups. Surrounding the bay are numerous small islands that stick up out of the water; it seems to me that the waves of the ocean are broken up by these islands, effectively calming the water so that its as flat as glass.

Our first destination is a cave that was discovered by the French during their colonization efforts, and who dubbed the place “Surprise Cave”. The surprise is that the cave is quite large, much larger than it looks from the outside, the largest cavern being about 30,000 feet in diameter. Taylor set up his camera on a tripod and was able to get some pretty sweet shots.

Our second and final destination was a floating village of fishing people, a place with about 800 people living in floating shacks and houses, some which seemed to be very nice and livable inside. As on land, the villagers were accustomed to the presence of tourists, and sailed out small boats made of bamboo to try and sell us trinkets from the sea. At one point our small tourist boat was boarded by children who couldn’t have been older than 12, demanding money for their sea shells. Our tour guide told us that most of these children will live their whole lives as fisherman, and few will make it to the mainland.

Having seen the sights, the tourists drop anchor in a small cove, eat a very good dinner provided by the staff, and sleep like babies on calm ocean water. In the morning some of us will take kayaks out to sea, eat a good breakfast, and sail back to port, where we’ll begin our long, insane drive back to Hanoi. Hope you like the pictures and the words so far!

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~ by tgrantphoto on December 24, 2009.

2 Responses to “Ha Long Bay”

  1. Wow How awesome. The pictures are great. Looks like you are having a great time. Any motorcycles there.

    • Very few actual motorcycles, but more mopeds that you’ve ever seen! We’ll get a video up of tonight here soon hopefully showing just how insane the moped traffic really is. Worse than any 5:00 traffic in the states.

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