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February 26, 2005


john collin

In the northeast of Vietnam, there are thousands of islands, most of them not much more than big rocks, scattered all over Halong Bay. The Tour I did here was certainly a highlight of my visit to Vietnam. It is great to settle on the deck of a boat, and spot limestone rocks rising up vertically from the quiet emerald-green sea, their green-yellow colours reflected in the water, with the shadows of other rocks in the background.

Looking at the rocks makes you marvel. Discovering small villages consisting of floating huts leaves you in awe. It is true, though: people are actually living on the sea here, growing oysters and shrimps, trading with passer-by ships, or on the floating market hidden behind one of the rocks. Looking at the inhabitants of those villages makes you realize the inventiveness of people to find a place to live and survive.

The sea is very inviting, and it is great to swim in. Very warm, not transparent, just great for a dip. There are places where you can swim under one of the walls rising out of the water and get out at the other side. And in the night there is the added spectacle of phosphor in the water, which makes every stroke a feast of sparkles. It is a true pity to return to uninteresting Halong City and get off the boat!

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