I hate to go all Dickensian, but Halong Bay was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. The best - we spent a night in one of the most incredibly beautiful places on earth. UNESCO recognises Ha Long Bay as a site of 'natural world heritage' and has also recognised it as one of the new 'wonders of nature'. Wonderful doesn't even begin to describe it. We slept with the curtains and window open and woke up to a scene of the most breathtaking beauty:
We took a lot of photos of this wonder of nature:
Our kids were awed by the beauty of Ha Long Bay, and were very excited about staying on the boat overnight.
For their parents, however, it was a different story. Whilst we marvelled at the beauty of the environment we found ourselves in, it was hard to shake the pervading feeling that we, as tourists, were complicit in an act of ongoing environmental destruction.
The scariest thing about this is that we didn't even need to try, the rubbish simply floated past the boat as we were anchored and snagged in our fishing lines.
It wasn't rocket science to work out what caused this. The view of the sunrise we posted at the top of this blog was what we saw when we looked to the right of our window. Below was our view to the left:
So, let's count. 500 boats heading into the Bay everyday with 20-50 people on each boat - maths is not my strong point but even I can work this one out (actually I can't, but luckily I have a calculator on my phone). That's between 10 and 25 thousand people every day. All drinking bottled water (at least 4 each day), many flicking cigarette butts into the water (ick), some accidentally losing plastic bags over the side. It's no wonder we didn't need to try when we were fishing - there is plenty of rubbish to go around.
Ha Long Bay - one of the most beautiful and saddest places we have ever seen. What we need to do now is work out how to bring our money to a developing country whilst trying to ensure that our presence doesn't eventually destroy the things we came here to see.
Ha Long Bay - information
Where we stayed: Imperial Classic Cruise NZ$574 (USD388) for 2 days, 1 night; 2 double rooms. Included breakfast, dinner, two lunches, cooking class, cave tour, pearl farm tour, and transfers to and from our hotel.
The traffic is crazy in Hanoi. We struggled to get around. Our bus driver was crazy. He cutted around about 17 motorbikes and two cars. This is how kids get to school:
We went on the boat in ha long bay and stayed the night. I got the signatures of everyone on the boat. Everyone on the boat was very kind. I made a new friend from Taiwan called Paul and one called Janna from Ukraine, near my old friend Mr Skolopov.
Today we are in Phong Nha Kebang which has the biggest caves in the world. We went for a bike ride but it was so hot I nearly fainted. It was 37 degrees Celsius. There is a pool where we are staying. I have had four swims today and I will probably have another one soon.
When we first arrived this very nice man took us to see his puppies. There are four. The parents are called salt and pepper. The puppies do a lot of playfighting. I'm not supposed to pat animals because mum says I'll get rabies but I still did. They feel soft.