Sailing in the South China Sea - Junks and Kayaks
19.03.2007 - 21.03.2007
This time we did get up in time to see the Tai Chai at the Lake. Not quite the serene atmosphere we had imagined-rather more vigorous exercising to loud music. Kids found the bosom rubbing and mutual back patting amusing.
Took a 3 hour bus trip to Halong Bay. Passed lots of unusual road signs saying only 'bikes and buffalo' allowed in this lane. We saw lots of very tall, ornate painted houses which are incredibly narrow.The Vietnamese used to pay their taxes according to the width of their houses hence they tend to be tall and very thin.
Halong Bay is a Unesco World Heritage Site and consequently attracts lots of visitors . Its a jumble of junks and I mean old junks. I tried to ask what would happen if the boat were to sink and the guide could not work out why the boat should sing!!! Eventually I got him to understand that I wanted to know where the life jackets were and his response was not to worry because the crew were good swimmers!!
We were supposed to be interested in the limestone hills and caves but the most interesting bit were the floating villages. These are complete and very poor communities of people and their dogs living in ramshackle floating huts. Livvy wondered where their gardens were.
The caves all have old vietnamese legends, usually about dragons and the 3 other symbolic animals (phoenix, lion and turtle). Matt says he much prefers these legends to the 'god stories' he gets at school.
A good sleep in a wooden cabin on the boat refreshed us for the journey to the beach resort where we stayed in these bamboo huts. Not really warm enough to fully enjoy sadly. I was desperate for a pair of socks! But we had a lovely hour kayaking in the warm South China Sea with a gentle guide whose name means 'Sun Puppy'. He took us climbing, barefoot to the top of the Island to show us a silent spot where he goes to have a sleep when he gets time off.
Back in Hanoi now for one night now. Tomorrow we take the Reunification Express for a 16 hour overnight train journey to Hue.