Ha Long Bay
Four hours bus ride hurtling through towns and villages, with construction going on everywhere. ‘Tube’ houses with an architectural style that seemingly borrows from French colonial, festooned with the capitals, gilding, arches, and spires of Buddhist temples.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is amazing. Ignore the mass commercial exploitation with a gazillion boats all headed for the same spot, and the schedule that has you rushing through your meal to meet the deadline of the next attraction. Look past the obvious signs of maintenance flaws on the boat, and lift your eyes to the outcrops of rock.
Thankful that there are still small commercial fishing boats to provide scale and character. Smiling that there are places in the world where the captain spins the spokes of his wheel using his toes! And thankful for fishermen’s shrines between the rock face and high-tide mark, to keep us safe and their fishing abundant.
Amongst the hooters, sirens and the noise of diesel engines, birds soar between the limestone spires. Magical.
And hidden in the limestone is Hang Sung Sot – the surprise cave. It’s ceiling shaped by the motion of the waves, and the floor by the underground lake. When the earth shifted these two halves opened up to each other. Beautifully maintained. A single path walkway stretching the hundreds of tourists into a quieter format. If I had my way, I’d have a shrine to the silent tour guide.
Magnificent turquoise waters and the gentle colours of a tropical sunset.
Floating city with the lights of the boats creating shadows of the rock outcrops that could easily be part of the dragon that legend has formed Ho Long Bay.
The boat was comfortable and our cabin well appointed with a bed that you disappeared into. Thankful for the air conditioning on a stuffy, windless night. Good food that did its best to cater for my sugarless needs.
Sunrise Thai-Chi amongst the towering shadows, a bit beyond my co-ordination.