Just a quick word on this place. Ha Long Bay, made up of 1969 islands, conveniently the same number as the year of the death of Ho Chi Minh, nations beloved leader that freed the Vietnamese from French rule. ‘Ha’ means descending and ‘Long’ means dragon, (think that’s the right way round).
The tour guide spent 20 minutes telling us how the islands were formed by a dragon plummeting into the sea and firing pearl flames at the invaders, defending the Vietnamese. The pearls from the dragons breath solidified into these jagged limestone dolomites. Making the waters too treacherous for attack ships to navigate, eventually forcing them to retreat.
The next tour guide stepped up and blew holes in that fairy tale with some cool geological science, but I can’t be arsed to relay that on. Check out WIKI or something, here, here’s a link.
The floating fishing village is something to see. All the locals, generations upon generations of fishermen and their families spent their entire lives in the Bay, returning only to the mainland to sell on their catch. Now the lovely UNESCO have got involved, making it a World Heritage Site. And well, we can’t be having gypsies living in a World Heritage Site shitting up the place, what will the tourists say?
The government, aided by UNESCO have now moved the villagers inland, given them homes and refuge and contractual work. Ironically the former villagers now row the tourists around the bay for money, collecting their own litter en route.
The caves are cool.
In the afternoon one activity presented by the tour guide was to swim in the beautiful emerald sea, with the jellyfish. Needless to say, I stayed at the bar.
Some of the villagers still live in the bay. They can’t hack being on land, just like Kevin Costner in Waterworld.
Cats don’t have a good life here in Vietnam.