A cruise in Halong bay
With bright flashes, thunder and torrential tropical rain has on the night a storm over the Bay Tung Sau discharged. The "Paradise Cruises I", a traditional Vietnamese junk, has still barely moves. Even in bad weather, the water is almost always calm between the pinnacles, cones, sugar hats and miniature islands of Halong Bay in northern Vietnam. The sky is low over the bay, the morning light is still red, as Tai Chi champion Miss Xuan training session for the sun deck invites.
In slow motion it takes graceful movements, while the early birds among the passengers try to coordinate arms and legs. Then push apart the clouds, sunlight falls on the velvet blue of the water. As the air begins to evaporate, dismisses Miss Xuan their students for breakfast.
165 km between the capital Hanoi and Halong Bay. Three and a half hours it takes by car, five by train, 30 minutes by helicopter only. But for the journey is like for Tai Chi, the slower the better. For larger, the contrast between heat, noise and bustle of the metropolis, where thousands of moped drivers honking pave their way, and the sublime silence of the South China Sea as smooth as glass in Halong Bay do not have.
The best preparation is several hours drive to the coast. Lotus flowers, dozing ox, a flock of geese, which is driven past the markets of small towns and the emerald green rice fields, emerging from them Vietnamese pointed hats - though these pictures are evidence of a laborious life, they have in their archaic force is a very special magic.
A higher down from the sky dragon, which is called in Vietnamese Ha Long, and his children left behind the bizarre islands in the sea, as they spat in the fight against invaders pearls that were to land. So says the legend. Geologists may know better, but the myth fits perfectly with the magnificent, strange and beautiful landscape. Those who do not believe in dragons, for which science has an explanation ready: So it is in the bay around a sunken limestone plateau in the last ice age, extend of which only the top of the water.
Colorful fishing boats bobbing on the sea, the rocks look around like in rock-cut mythical creatures. Since 1994, UNESCO, the 1,500 square kilometer region is one with its 2,000 islands as a World Heritage Site, today it is one of the most important stops on the route of travelers through Vietnam.
Therefore, it is now already necessary to avoid other tourists. Where crossed in the early days of tourism 50 boats are now hundreds on the road. The end of 2008 the fleet grounded "Paradise Cruises' starts from the island of Tuan Chau - 15 miles from the popular point of departure Bai Chay, a district of Halong City, away. That means definitely an advantage. In addition, the Vietnamese society have an anchor at the pearl farm approval Sau Tung said the French manager Vincent Le Cannelier, whose enthusiasm for the bay - and for its fleet - to rein in, even after 150 trips can hardly be.
Here, only three ships may moor at night instead of the usual 40 to 50, so we at the evening kayak trip is not constantly the hiss of opening beer cans off. That the Bay of the clock is navigable only to 20, gives the world heritage site, at least at night alone.
Unlike most other junks in the bay are the crossing under the golden sailing ship "Paradise Cruises' historic replica Vietnamese boats and not those from nearby China, do not look bad, but just different, especially flat. They come from Vinh in Central Vietnam, where some craftsmen still dominate the traditional design. With ships like these already visited the Vietnamese emperor to Halong Bay.
Although the play in contemporary Vietnamese junks everyday no longer relevant. But its nostalgic charm, in conjunction with the clear size of 17 cabins must for a romantic travel experience. Captain Nhat, which controls more than 20 years by the bay, knows every rock in the water and gives off a sovereignty that is entrusted to you.
The rock cones and needles are uninhabited lack of flat surfaces. Not only visitors are therefore dependent on boats, even the residents. For generations, the people here live on the water. The fishing village of Cua Van is one of four floating villages in Halong Bay. His wooden huts stand on pontoons, there are even television and electricity from the generator, but, although this is required by law, no sewage system.
Once the boat from the junk in the Bay of Cua Van, rowing approaching children who deal with the boats as naturally as their peers elsewhere on a scooter. For pennies a minute, they offer mussels, which are certainly not allowed to perform. A school is part of the floating village, visit the children until the fifth grade. Then they would go to boarding school, but what few people, like Nguyen Van Huu said. The 84-year-old lives with his wife, Vu Thi Dai and five other family members in the lodge, which consists of two rooms and a hallway in between. They wash themselves with water from the rain barrel. They have to buy drinking water. The three-generation house has a small terrace with two fish tanks in front: Fish farming is the main source of income of the 500 villagers.
In an old Coke can stand the toothbrush of the family, a blanket roll on the floor one bed suggests. On the neighboring terrace, which is only two meters away, a dog is tethered. Before every house flies the Vietnamese flag. The inhabitants of the floating village do not pay taxes, but receive no benefits. If you take the compulsory education seriously, do not get caught with drugs and there is no prostitution, the Ministry of Culture, the floating villages adorned with the title of "cultural village". The Glory and honor, but no money.
As visitors pass back to the fish tanks to balance the boat, waving to the children of a sales campaign last goodbye. The boat leaves in a wide swing in the next bay and into another world, back to the junk, where guests are greeted with ice cold sweaty towels from which rises the smell of lemongrass.
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