Ha Long Bay 

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Photo op's along the way, a real train and a real Pill Box to play on

 

 Adventures on Ferries

Fortunately it is a short ferry ride, we could see our destination across the river,  It's just as well as the crew were busy stuffing plastic bags into holes in the gunwales 

 

By the time we reached our second ferry the rain was incessant

Ha Long - 'Where the Dragon Descends in to the Sea'.  Fishermen report a monster known as Tarasque, Vietnamese Nessie?
Leaving Bai Chay, our base for two days, past the stunning little town nestled into the Karst and a happy bunch of fishermen maybe they just saw Tarasque

We have acquired a couple of extra passengers,  here to photograph the bay for the upcoming book 'Passage To Vietnam'
Spectacular grotto carved by wind and waves

 

Family life on Halong Bay   These tiny craft house whole families.  On the bow is a tarpaulin on a bamboo frame to provide shelter from rain.   Cooking looks trick too.  Around the grotto there seemed to be a small community
The weather closed in again and we were disappointed with the rest of the photos we took that day.  We went back to Bai Chay.  Next day we would take a long boat ride to Cat Ba Island with plenty of opportunity for photography 

   Cat Ba Island   The largest of 366 islets making up the Cat Ba Archipelago and home to 1200 people.  My 1993 edition of The Lonely Planet tells of a charming island and Vietnam's most beautiful national park

 

The weather was nasty for our long 'cruise' but the Island itself looked promising if only it would stop raining

Cat Bai's  pretty main street from one end

To the hive of activity at the other

There were only two hotels, both called Cat Ba Hotel, don't know about the other but ours was as grim as it could possibly be. The exterior was a construction site the builders and the bare footed drilling troops provided our wake up call
Our Ensuite.   Fortunately we had brought sheets with us and such as it was we did have a toilet and shower.  The locals used the wasteland behind the hotel

There was no restaurant, a resident would volunteer to go to the market, buy whatever you asked for or whatever was available and cook it for you.  Unfortunately all the food had been commandeered for a wedding the next day and they could only offer potatoes and fish, we opted for fish and chips.  It was exceptionally bad but not their fault, there seemed to be shortages everywhere

Over dinner we 'guinea pigs' staged a mutiny, insisting we leave the island as soon as could possibly be arranged

The beach is accessed via a tunnel.  Sometimes a toll was demanded.  We were the only visitors here and couldn't wait to get away
The earliest we could be picked up was 2.00pm,   Some went to the beach,  others to find the National Park, we were all at the jetty by noon
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