Just on the way back from a tour of Ha Long Bay – we eventually got to our kayaks about 6 hours late. Ha Long bay has been made a UNESCO world heritage site – it’s a pile of 2000 small islands rising out of the sea, which is littered with floating villages. It’s quite bizarre to go shopping in a boat – I’d piloted motorcycles through land based markets before, but I’d never been to a moving boat shop before. The 15 foot shop was rowed by a small woman, who like all South East Asian people, seems to be able to squat on her haunches for hours at a time. We arrived in our squadron of four kayaks and windowless shopped for a while, before paddling off.
The people who live on floating houses are some of the poorest in Vietnam, so that’s pretty poor – Vietnam’s version of white trailer park trash – yellow water park trash. Maybe the ‘trash’ bit is a little unfair, maybe not. The view you get from a kayak is very different from that from the top of a tour boat. You get to see the vast quantities of trash floating in the water. Apparently plastic bags and flip flops lead to interesting sport fishing experiences, both being quite hard to reel in, with flip flops doing more leaping and thrashing. But Ha Long bay is a tip – noodle packets, bottles, shoes, plastic everywhere. Bit of a shame really.