Swimalong Bay

The bus journey to Halong Bay is long, punctuated only by a happy house stop at the handicapped trading post where everyone bought more goods. The rice paddies are glistening grey under the early morning sun and tiny figures ply their way across with hand scythes, working the fields silently around the tombs and tiny mausoleums. A massive electricity grid springs up and wires criss-cross the skies.

After three long hours we arrive at the dock in Halong bay and find our boat, a red brown vessel that must have been under sail once upon a time. It is large enough to have tow happy houses both big enough to change in. Beer drinking on the upper deck and we drift slowly out into the smooth waters of the bay. The air is misty, sun just peering through but not enough to clear the skies. Ahead the islands sprouting like pointy mushrooms direct from the sea, have an ethereal quality. The calm is diminished by the noisy chug of little mobile fruit and veggie boats closely shadowing the larger craft. Another dares to sell pieces of coral and is received stonily by the visitors. Although there are many boats in the bay, it is still possible to find a relatively peaceful spot to drop anchor. Everyone who can, swims in the shallow warm water.

swimalongbay Lswimalong
This time I earn my T-shirt.

Nearby the Gulf of Tonkin where the US faked its excuse for attacking the North in 1964.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Mid afternoon we return to the port and make the long road back passing the end of day rice harvesting. The pale brown sheaves are stacked neatly by the roadside and in the emptied paddies, the farmer is already ploughing up for the next sowing.

In the evening, cocktails at The Press Club and then a meal together. This time either from tiredness or sadness everyone is subdued. Tomorrow, when we awake our new family will have dispersed to homes afar and it will be time to resume our old lives.

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