I think this would be one of the parts of our trip that we’ve looked forward to the most. On this fourth day, we went to the beautiful Ha Long Bay.
6am wake ups aren’t much fun, but they seem to becoming expected. We were put under such duress because we were going to go have breakfast with a rather special group of people - teachers at a charity institute called Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.
Blue Dragon is a charity organisation that deals with street kids. their aim is to help these children get back into school, or indeed even into school at all, and get them away from negative influences of gangs and such things. They also play a part in helping the fight against child trafficking and child labour. They also gave us a quick lesson in Vietnamese… Xin Chao!
Next stop on the way to Ha Long Bay: A pottery. The soil local to the pottery was very rich in clay. As we walked through we saw the different steps; filtering the clay, filling the mold, setting, trimming the rough edges, adding ornamental patterns and art, firing, and finally painting. We also got an opportunity to buy from their shop, and they provided tea and a biscuit for each of us.
It’s quite a sight to see, driving through the Vietnam countryside. The land is either township/buildings or farms… And not just the land is used for farms, as they keep shrimp farms on the water as well. I should also mention that when I say farms, I’m not talking about wide paddocks or fields of grain owned by one person… The fields and paddocks are broken up and every small patch belongs to a different farmer or family.
It wasn’t long until we were on the boat, slowly motoring out into the bay. By this time both of my travel partners were feeling sick, either from the bus drive over, or from the boat they were now on. I’m still surprised that I have yet to get sick at all, as I have been known to get sea sick. However the water over Ha Long Bay was mostly flat, which I think was my saving grace.
There were a couple of activities planned out on the bay, first of which was a tour of some natural caves in one of the many islands in the bay. I began to question the authenticity of the cave when I noticed a few “rocks” with what appeared to be a speaker inside them, however I let this slide as there was a lot of effort put into hiding electrical cables and light fixtures already, plus the floor has been mostly tiled over with stone.
Shortly after we found ourselves in double kayaks, taking a closer like at coves and scenery in the area. During this kayaking session it was sad to see just how polluted the waters actually are - at times we were paddling through clusters of litter; core can, food wrapper, somebody’s shoe… all sitting there, floating on too off the water.
From there we tried back to our boat. after some dinner (delicious sea food), we gave a small dance demonstration, as we all wound down for the night (except for those of us dancing, of course!). A couple of card games later and we were all hitting the hay, and I was starting another journal entry…