Da Plane, Boss, Da Plane!

Wednesday morning we were picked up for the 4 hour road trip to Ha Long Bay. We were the only two guests on the 9 person mini-van. The road from Hanoi  is under construction. It is a dusty, dirty trip marked by one stop at a government sponsored shop (Ed. note: think one floor of the old downtown Woodwards) where disabled people hand-make things to sell – anything from leather goods to embroidered pictures. Now, we aren’t saying it is overpriced a tad, but here is an example. In Hanoi I bought four little 4” x 6” bags which you can hang around your neck and carry a passport, credit card etc..  The four cost 100,000 VND or $5 US. In the shop 1 (one) was 189,000 VND or $9.50. But it is for a good (?) cause…

We arrived in Ha Long City and were transferred to the ship – the only two guests on the ship for the afternoon. Lunch was served by some of the 18 staff there to respond to our every wish. After lunch we were taken on a tour of the floating fishing villages (Ed. note: Yes,  just the two of us). These villages have been there since the early 19th century. There are about 1000 people living on about 400 “houseboats” in 4 different residential communities. They subsist on fishing, pearl farming, “squidding” and tourist dollars. We were told that the government plans on moving them to land in July because it is too dangerous – they have been there through wars, typhoons and gawd knows what else, but suddenly it is too dangerous. Can anyone else say private tourist attraction coming soon? It is outrageous. No one thinks the villagers will be able to survive on land.  Water is their way of life.

Fishing Village 1

Fishing Village 1

Fishing Village 2

Fishing Village 2

Fishing Village 3

Fishing Village 3

This is a "Squidder". They go out at night and shine the big lights on the water, The squid are attracted to the lights and they are swept up in the net.

This is a “Squidder”. They go out at night and shine the big lights on the water. The squid are attracted to the lights and they are swept up in the net.

They get their groceries from traveling "supermarkets".

They get their groceries from traveling “supermarkets”.

Pearl Farming

First, implant a little bit of the mother membrane (the woman) and a small plastic bead (the man) into the shell.

First, implant a little bit of the mother membrane (the woman) and a small plastic bead (the man) into the shell.

Second, attach a number of the oyster shells to the ropes hanging from the buoys.

Second, attach a number of the oyster shells to the ropes hanging from the buoys.

Third, wait three years and then pull them up.

Third, wait three years and then pull them up.

Fourth, be rewarded with a pearl. The man chose a shell at random, popped it open and there it was.

Fourth, be rewarded with a pearl. The man chose a shell at random, popped it open and there it was.

After the tour we came back to the boat (Ed. note: joined by 7 other interloping guests) for a cooking demonstration (Fried Spring Rolls), Two for One Happy Hour (Ed. note: Figure out the math – at lunch the glasses of wine cost 150,000VND, at the 2 for one, same wine 220,000VND for 2 glasses. Harumph!). After an okay dinner and some bad guitar playing and singing by one of the staff we were off to bed.

However, before we got to bed, there is a knock at the door and Michael our guide is there. He is so clearly inebriated I don’t know how he was able to stand let alone talk or walk. He wants to give us some packets of coffee and a Mozart CD to listen to. Okay… The next morning we tell him that we didn’t have the coffee but thanks and we are going to keep it. There is a blank look on his face and after a good 20 seconds he says that he does not remember doing that. Small wonder. We refer to him as Tattoo. You figure out why.

Da boat Boss, da boat

Da boat Boss, da boat (Ed. note: the multiple chins are due to the fact that I did not want to stand straight up and tower even more over him.!)

5 thoughts on “Da Plane, Boss, Da Plane!

  1. pkintzinger

    Those fishing villages are so beautiful. Traveling that waterway would be worth the visit. Just wondering why there were only two of you when Sam and Joe are there …. also enjoyed your driving video from previous post. xoxo

    Reply
  2. Peter Therrien

    Halong Bay is such a great spot, but so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o polluted. What they should do is hire the floating village people to pick up all the garbage floating around. WE bought one of the needlepoint pictures and coincidentally just got it back from the framer and put it up last night. Over-priced? Definitely, but whrn framrd up, it is spectacular. See any sunshine, or the usual grey? I thought I actually saw some blue sky!

    Reply
  3. tdwatt23 Post author

    The day we arrived wasn’t too bad for sun and the next day when we were kayaking was spectacular – warm and sunny. However, it was definitely hazy grey in the distance. Next blog will have photos!

    Reply
  4. wendy

    What super photos of the fishing villages . Looked very peaceful. Pearl farming interesting. Are those pearls anything like the ones from Japanese divers, where the pearls are stimulated to form from bits of sand?? that is all I know about pearls.

    Reply

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