Monday, March 30, 2009

Halong Bay

We purchased a 2-day tour to visit the World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, a couple of hours drive to the East of Hanoi.

In the morning after breakfast we were picked up from our hotel and driven for 3 hours by minibus to a port on the edge of bay where the Red river joined the sea. At the port we were greeted by a tourist spectacle, lots of other buses like ours converged there to feed dozens of similar boats with passenger boats with people all doing the same thing.

Onces we'd been taken to our boat and all port formalities had been completed we were off and what seemed like a regatta started. All the boats were going in the same direction to the same place and did so on mass. In spite of this the setting, hundreds of bush covered kaast islands coming straight out of the sea, could not fail to impress.

We were given a tour of a limestone cave in one of the islands, again along with the contents of all the boats. There was nothing quiet about this trip.

In the section of the bay where the cave entrance was there was a small floating fishing village. They had built platforms on drums and had small houses on them. They operated small fish farms, one of which we visited. I guess now with the advent of mass tourism most income comes from selling things to tourists, which given the mark up on the drinks on the boat they probably did quite well with. In the late afternoon we went for a short cayak int he bay which was a lot of fun and gave me the idea to do so for longer.

That evening we moored in the middle of the bay surrounded by dozen or so other boats. After quite a nice dinner our guide tried to interest everyone in a karaoke session, fortunately no-one was interested so we had a quiet one talking with the other passengers and playing cards.


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