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.
|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.
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.
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.
|Somehow, to me this clip represents an idyllic life:|
|Just a short clip, six seconds, but what fun!|
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.
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.»
|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.