So much can be said about Halong Bay in Vietnam. This UNESCO World Heritage site has water as green as the algae that it engulfs. Home to secluded fishing villages and captivating limestone karst that make every second of sailing through these 775 islets feel more soothing than the sound of the crashing waves against your iron boat.
Kayaking through Halong Bay was a challenge for a novice kayaker like myself, but it sure was worth it. Maneuvering through the islets while having the freedom to explore was truly a liberating experience. We kayaked through the green water only to find our own private beach to enjoy the stimulating water that at times felt as if it were washing your soul.
From the private beach we found the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset in Bai Tu Long Bay. There I witnessed the clear horizon with nothing but the scorching sun floating over the mountains. The water at the bay was incandescent as if God was painting a canvas of beauty and purity, reminding us that despite all the ugliness in this world there is still plenty of beauty to behold.
THE ONES WHO ROW
In the beginning, I was proud of my navigating abilities and how I handled my kayak. That was until I met the ladies of the local fishing village. These women truly amaze me, rowing in their old round wooden boats that don’t really look like any other paddle boat I’ve ever come across. They maneuvered through the limestone walls with grace and precision, giving us a tour of these old fishing villages that still exist until this day. Their strength and ability really is second to none, all while paddling through the bay for hours a day.
Between the hustle and bustle of modern life we tend to forget the simplicities of said life. One great reminder of this was our journey through the floating villages of Bai Tu Long Bay in Ha Long Bay. These houses are floating in between the bay and its many islets. No electricity is available and the people live solely off fishing. There have been many efforts by the Vietnamese government to integrate these villagers to modern society but they have been here for over hundreds of years. It’s almost as if they’re stuck in time. On the other hand, it’s kind of a nice thought, not worrying about deadlines, paying bills, and this constant array of misguided information. Let’s all just catch some fish!
YEAH, I'M ON A BOAT
Sometimes I wonder if I too could live in a boat. Instead of living off the land one would instead live off the sea. Mankind has always been so resourceful and able to adapt to many situations and environments. This is particularly true of these fishermen who are constantly sailing year round through Halong bay. I was only able to witness the lifestyle for a short time, so I am still unable to understand the appeal of it. But I am also the first one to acknowledge that I would not fair well in these circumstances.