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The Float Gloat

Barely two weeks ago I wrote about the floating islands of Lake Titicaca in Peru and yesterday I arrived at Halong Bay in Vietnam with it’s own floating villages of fishermen. The two communities can’t be further apart in terms of culture and geography – one is on the highest navigable lake in the world whilst the other on the sea, one creates it’s floating homes with the reed found in the lake whilst the other with wood from the trees from the natural islands, one fishes trout whilst the other mostly shellfish. But both communities live off the the water and the resources it provides for it’s residents.

Halong Bay is made up of thousands of rocks of all sizes jutting out of the sea in an archipelago. Some islands are small and rocky whilst others are large enough to sustain a small community of half a dozen fishermen families. One island Cat Ba – is the largest and is in the centre of this archipelago. Cat Ba has quite a population and has a few hotels for tourists visiting the archipelago to spend a night or two in. By far the biggest attraction here is the wonder of nature which can be explored on traditional boats called ‘junks’ which snake around the islands to provide fantastic views.

Halong Bay

The rocks provide hundreds of caves and grottos of all sizes. One we visited was enormous – larger than the largest cathedral I have seen and with thousands of stalactites and stalagmites forming shapes which our guide described as an elephant, a frog, an eagle and even a nipple. I remembered our guide in Lake Titicaca who was very enthusiastic about seeing shapes in the island formations!

After a day sailing around on a tourist boat, the four of us are on our own private ‘junk’ with a captain, a guide and a cook. We had half a dozen dishes cooked for us last night including clams to start and a grouper to follow. All washed down with the local Dalat wine which is fine after a couple of glasses! We anchored somewhere int he centre of a  number of islands surrounding us and slept in our comfy bedrooms.

It’s 6am and the skies are clear and the sun about to shine through. It’a absolutely beautiful and I am looking forward to a day of touring around the islands, visiting more caves and maybe getting on some kayaks to explore grottos. Oh and more yummy seafood!

Categories: Vietnam Tags: , , , , ,
  1. Debs Baker
    February 5, 2012 at 20:39

    Hi this sounds great. Can you give me contact details for the private junk you hired? Thanks

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