Ha long...we arrive in Ha Long to overcast but tame skies. Our Guide sets off to find our boat and the three of us hang near the van for no more than a few minutes... we are shuffled onto a sampan type boat among the many boats that push and wedge in for a front spot at the concrete steps. We have a five-person crew.
The boat, small ship, as it turns out is ours for two nights. For perspective, that includes sea kayaks, separate quarters each with its own bath...breakfast, lunch, dinner and diesel. Our two-hour ride out to the first stop included a six-course lunch with wine and fresh crabs and sesame pork and whole sea bream. Dinner was similar.... Ho hum.... food plays second fiddle to the symphony of sights on Ha Long bay.
Ha long is an orchestra of syncopated islands, set up like the notes of a composer’s work sheet, and conducted by the rhythm of the tidal ebb and flow. No matter the deity surely this is one of his finest movements.
Our tempo has abruptly changed from Billy Idol's Rebel Yell to Handel's Water music suite and after lunch we stand on top of the boat, mouths open, thinking halleluiahs, but not able to speak.
Our anchor spot for the night sits in a small bay with a view of a pagoda way atop a near by island. There are another 5 or 6 boats anchored within our view. Young Vietnamese girls paddle in small prams from boat to boat selling shells, fish, and Oreo cookies. Strange this place is.