Friday, January 12, 2007

Ha Long Bay

This is an amazing site on the planet that deserved to be sailed around once in your life.

Imagine thousands green islands spotting out a calm grey sea. Only the sound of your engine comes along you and Mother Nature ... It did not start that way though.

Our small group of travelers (16 all together) planned to spend NYE on the ocean, and we booked our 3 days Ha Long Bay tours with Saigon Travel Cafe in Hanoi. We were not the only ones who planed that. We were thousands of tourists to have the exact same idea. When we arrived after 3 hours bus drive on the North Vietnamese Highway (a story on itself), we were literally hundreds of boats trying to leave the only pier at the same time. We heard crash, noises but never yelling at each other. Our junk was smashed by a bigger one, but we did not sink.

Finally we reached a safe spot from where we could take off to the bay. At first we could not see a thing, but the mist disappeared chunk by chunk and we discovered the space around and the hundreds boats around us. It was a compilation of small tiny drop of land on a quiet ocean of water. From time to time we could see a dinky floating between the different magical elements.

We crawled quietly till the final destination doing some tourist activities like dress-down kayaking, cave visiting, pictures taking or shrimps eating. We reached New Year Eves climbing a imported Red Label and some exotic Smorniff. The twelve sounds were celebrated by a Manchester Vs Paris dive in the bay. Who won? Who cares!

Quand our guide (King or Flower in English) did something amazing which was for me the beginning of my take off to Vietnam land, he sang a song from the country side telling the story of people going to the city and missing their own town. This languorous song was perfectly setup among the dark night and the shooting stars. I closed my eyes and dreamed for some time.

The next day we visited the main Cat Ba Island, which was the center of resistance of the North Vietnam during the war. We talked a bit of the war and saw some excavations, some history, did some trekking too early for me anyway. Starting a 2 hours trek at 10 Am on Jan 1st !!! Talk about new years resolution ! Next year I make none for sure.

Chicken island
Ha Long Bay is magic, and deserved to be seen under a blue sky, like the moon I guess.