Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We greatly enjoyed its unique beauty.

Our group spent half a day exploring the bay on our own boat.

Unfortunately, the day was cool and overcast, but that could not dull the magnificent scenery.

We moored and explored several islands. In one we climbed high, only to descend into a spectacular cave.

We were given lunch, dinner and breakfast on the boat. Like everything else we ate in SE Asia, the food was great. Our room was fairly basic, but unlike some hotels, had a heater.

Two travelmates, Gavin and Tom, woke early and dove into the bay and swam around our boat.

After dinner that evening I spoke with our tour leader Hue about contemporary life in Vietnam, which proved most interesting; I wrote a little about this in a previous entry. She spoke about a natural tendency to prudence and sexual ignorance among the Vietnamese, which may or may not lead towards the high birth rate they’re currently experiencing. She also added that yes, they pay taxes; yes, they can vote for representatives to the national government (who then go on to pick a president); they don’t trust banks: her mother recently purchased a nice Japanese sedan with cash; they do not receive national healthcare, which I thought odd for a communist country. They’re also very superstitious. Hue herself was just finishing a year of very bad luck, and had high hopes for the new lunar new year, Tet, which was fast approaching. (The locals pronounce it as dut.) It is now the year of the rat. There was no shortage of rat- and mouse-themed New Year decorations available for purchase. And plants and beautiful flowers, which are very auspicious.

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