Monday, November 7, part 2:
We cruise on Ha Long Bay

the Bay, with our wake visible

Bay, with wake (big image, small).

Before long, we got under way into the bay proper, and it was amazing to see the number of tour boats. Hardly what the very earliest sightseers would have seen when they hired a sampan to go out and admire the natural beauty. Of course there were some views with relatively few boats in’em, as you see in the upper right shot in the block to the right. But it was easy to seek out the picturesque shots with boats placed for maximum artistic effect, and I think that both Mark and I have done that.

We had arrived late onto the boat, so it was time for lunch. Let me let my journal take over:

«After lunch, we were to go to a Floating Village, a collection of rather ragged boats — sampans maybe — that people dwelt on, making their living by fishing. We got to a big float by launch, and from there we got onto a six-person rowboat (one rower in the rear), where we took a circuit of the Village.» (I think it bears noting that all the rowers we saw faced forward, standing, and pushed their oars, unlike us: when we row, we face the stern and pull the oar. We both have short videos of one young man we saw, pushing his oars with his feet, while lying back in a sitting position, as you’ll see below.

view of the floating town
Approaching the floating village (bigger image, even bigger),

My journal continues: «In the village, [ that is, on the sampans ] there were a great many dogs, but no sign of cats. Along the way, we saw a dog swimming strongly towards one of the sampans, and by God, he climbed a ladder onto the deck (this was at most two feet above the water level) and shook himself off in a fine spray of water. Mark has shots of the whole process.

«A handful of the people who took the launch to the floating platform chose to take rides in two-person kayaks, among them John and Barbara. I may have a shot of them.» Unaccountably, my journal says nothing more about the very interesting time we spent on this part of the Bay. I’ll fill in, in the remarks about the pictures I’m posting.

In the launch

In the launch, Jack, Barbara, John
— 2:58pm (big image, small).

Three tour boats in one view

Looking back from the rowboat
— 3:13pm (big image, small).

Small head in distance

3:16pm (big image, small).

Typical scene, but with grocer’s boat

3:18pm (big image, small).

Yet more cluttered boats

3:18pm (big image, small).

Grocery lady in her delivery boat

Grocery lady, a blowup from
the above (big image, small).

We transferred from the floating plat­form to large rowboats, six pas­sen­gers to a boat as I recall, and did a tour of this part of the Bay. There were so many op­por­tun­i­ties for in­ter­est­ing pho­to­graphs that I can show only a fraction.

Please notice especially the low­er two pictures in the right column in the block to the left. The close-up shows a grocery-purveyor in her boat. And what a variety of goods she has in stock! Fresh veg­e­ta­bles to the left, plastic jugs of who knows what to the right, and if you ex­am­ine the big version, you can even see a scale for weighing out what­ev­er needs it.

Ultrawide shot of boats at the foot of a head
The activity at the foot of one of the karst islands, 3:14pm. Make sure you scroll all the way to the right.
Apparently the big P in a blue square means just what you guessed: Parking.

We rode around this part of the Bay, often coming so close to the little sampans that people were living on that I felt that I was looking into their win­dows, as I oc­ca­sion­al­ly could when I was little and rode the Third Avenue El in Man­hat­tan.

Scene in floating village, I

Big image, small.

Scene in floating village, II

Big image, small.

Blue drum on deck

I really like this image, with its various colors (big image, small).

Somehow, to me this clip represents an idyllic life:
Just a short clip, six seconds, but what fun!
handsome large sampn

Big image, small.

Yet another grocery-deliverer

Another grocer (big image, small).

Some of our fellow-travelers in their boat

Some of our group: visible are Leah, Terry, Lyn, and Alan (big image, small).

One more

Bright smile (big image, small).

Returning to the floating plaform

Back to base (big image, small).

On the platform: Barb and John

Approaching the floating platform (big image, small).

The excursion drew to a close: just a few more minutes, and we would pull up to the floating plat­form to be taken back to our home base.

I think the bottom pic­ture in the center col­umn de­serves no­tice, es­pe­cial­ly in the big ver­sion: I can’t i­mag­ine what it would be like to live in such mag­ni­fi­cent sur­round­ings.

Mark gazes out over the water from our boat

Mark and his journal (big image, small).

Mark, looking groggy

After a lot of sight-seeing and one or two glasses of wine (big image, small).

From there it was a short ride by launch to our float­ing temporary home, and Mark and I im­me­di­ate­ly sat down to work on our ac­counts of the day. Our neigh­bor­hood of the Bay became rather crowd­ed, and we got lots of views not only of the won­der­ful karst out­crop­pings, but of the various other tourist boats. As we sat and re­lax­ed, writing, we took more pictures in the fading light.

When it got too dark, we moved from the upper deck to the one below, which had the ad­di­tion­al ad­van­tage that we could get a glass of wine. As full dark­ness set in, we got very pretty views of the other boats, and became rather more grog­gy from ex­haus­tion and the wine. What my journal says about this time is, «Long happy hour permitted us to get to know Alan, Shari, Audra, and Julie much better. Dinner was … good, but perhaps not as good as lunch was. I had a glass of wine at happy hour, and two during dinner, three in all … Anyway, both Mark and I were exhausted at the end of the meal and went right to bed very shortly after nine.»

wide shot of Halong Bay
Yet another wide shot — from the deck of the tour boat, towards sunset.

There’s nothing in my journal about the very pleasant en­ter­tain­ment after dinner, where Lulu, a member of the staff. sang very fetchingly, in Vietnamese style. My pictures are unfortunately not at all good, so I leave this unillustrated.

We lost no time turning in, to prepare ourselves for the adventures of the next day which also would be very full.