silhouette of man standing in hall
In the lobby of our hotel in Hanoi,
while we were waiting to leave for Ha Long.

Monday, 7 November, part 1:
we leave for Ha Long Bay

We got up early — in fact Mark got up before me to visit the flower market with anyone else that was interested, and let me sleep. But we ate breafast — copiously — rather before many of the others, I think, and had time to cool our heels before the bus left for Ha Long.

Two shots from out of the bus window as we got close.

glimpse of Ha Long

Bigger version.

glimpse of Ha Long

Bigger version.

One of the short-term cruise vessels, but a relatively large one

Big image, small.

The bus trip was long, and Truong used the time to explain all sorts of things about Vietnamese culture and history. The ride wasn’t too scenic till we got into the vicinity of our des­ti­nation. As we approached Ha Long, there were tall rounded limestone domes, you might call them land islands, dotting the scenery.

The thumbnail to the right shows one of the first cruise vessels we saw in the harbor, but certainly not the only one, as you’ll see below. It is rather larger than the typical cruise ship — in all, there were a lot of variations from the commonest ship design. Our boat was one of a fleet, the Bhaya Classic Line, and its vessels were not extremely large.

some folks standing around, labeled with their names
Here we are on the dock, waiting to be allowed onto our vessel. I’ve identified those of our group whose faces are showing.
wide shot of many boats along the dock
Tour boats lined up on the dock. Scroll to see them all. At the extreme right
is one of the Bhaya ships—I’m not sure it was ours, but ours was just this size.

After a wait on the dock, we got onto the boat and into our cabin, which you see below. It was plenty roomy, and very pleasant. Needless to say, we didn’t plan to spend much time in it, except for sleep.

wide view of our cabin on the boat
Our cabin. Mark was taking a similar picture over to the right, as you see.

We stood on the deck of our boat and watched the amazingly busy harbor. So many tourists! Mostly Chinese! Some of the boats were tricked out shamelessly in chinoiserie, and I do wonder to what extent this fooled the Chinese clients.

This time-lapse video, nine seconds in the playing of it,
represents at least a minute’s activity in the harbor.
I only wish I had sat recording for longer with the iPhone.
This one is sped up from natural speed too, but only 2×, to reduce the playing time from
the original 100 seconds to 50 seconds. The idea was the same as above:
to show the busyness of the Ha Long harbor.

Before long, we got under way, out of the harbor. But you’ll have to go to the next page for the rest of the story.