“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
Beautiful Halong Bay. Mesmerizing panoramas of limestone karsts often covered with lush green vegetation. Adding to this backdrop was the ever present fishermen who live on these waters. We were never completely alone.
The put-put of their engines was the first indicator.
A single boat with Quonset hut and colorful flags passed by our junk oblivious to us watching.
Oftentimes boats were rafted together. This was home for them and a way of life dating back generations.
We notice a lone man in his boat tied to this grey ragged landscape collecting crustaceans. It is food for the table and to sell.
A cultural and colorful highlight on this cruise aboard the Prince II junk was visiting a floating village tucked along the jagged edge of karsts in a somewhat protected area from the winds. Consisting of 120 people, mostly families with children, they have been there since 1994 and encouraged by the government to fish these waters. They do so with nets as well as fish-farms. There are three other such floating villages scattered throughout Halong Bay and some quite large. Collectively, these fishermen supply seafood to all of Vietnam, particularly Hanoi. In addition, they are developing markets for farm-raised sea grasses, sea weed, and shrimp.
Houses were painted in cheerful colors and each appeared to have a resident watch dog. Roosters crowed.
Generators provide electricity for the floating village and fresh water is brought in from the mainland and stored in tanks.
We were taken to the community building to meet the village elder, his family and to have tea. The structure also serves as a school while efforts are being made to replace the one that was destroyed in a typhoon. The government provides a teacher, but he or she needs to be married, which reflects the cultural morays. Older children who wish to further their education often live on the mainland with a relative. Health care is provided sporadically and women go to the mainland to give birth.
Managing tourism is of importance. This village has a partnership with several junk touring companies. Only the smaller vessels can approach this particular floating village, which was a cultural bonus for us. Instead of selling us trinkets or local crafts, we were taken on small boat excursions. There were four couples in our group and each couple was assigned to a row boat made from a woven reed basket.
Our rower was a 15 year old girl named Win who was shy and had such a lovely smile. By tipping these rowers we are told this is a “workable” situation for tourists and the village. I had to agree. These women worked hard at what they were doing. An extra cultural treat for Ron and I was Duc, our guide, joined our little boat as well as the village chief’s son and niece. It was fun listening to the children chatter away and Duc translate.
Laughing at each other in our conical hats was a reminder that we were acting the tourist part. There was one particular area that Duc wanted us to see, but the lead rower could not get her boat through because of the current.
We weren’t disappointed. The beauty around us was worth this experience of being rowed in a basket.
Once back on the junk, the long term sustainability of these floating villages was discussed. There is a balance between the fishermen, tourism, and the fragile eco-system which can change because of industrial run off, storms affecting fishing and increasing pollution. Halong Bay is a beautiful natural wonder. Protection of these waters while preserving a cultural way of life is an ongoing challenge.
All photos by Ron Mayhew Photography.
Beautiful pictures – definitely one for our bucket list!
Thank you. One for the bucket list, I agree.
Agreed! Man my bucket list is getting ridiculous ever since I made a WordPress account.
My bucket list keeps growing too and since I turn 70 this year one can say I’d better hurry. 🙂
Beautiful photos of this wonderful place. I’ve been to Halong Bay a few times but never had the fortune to take a trip like this through the villages in the small woven boats. What an experience for you!
It’s a large bay and so many different tours going on. We were fortunate to pick one that included this experience. Thank you for stopping by.
magical photos, I love them! Thanks for sharing
That’s what is enjoyable travel writing. Ron Mayhew (fotograffer), my husband, gets the photo credits. thank you.
Great story. But the 2nd image overwhelms the most.
Thank you. Yes, Ron really captured the story in that second photo.
A very different and wonderful world indeed! 🙂
Thanks, Gigi. I can’t soak up enough culture and it was an exceptional trip. Ron’s photos really capture it.
Your visit to the floating village sounds interesting and the photos attest to the beauty of the area. Thanks for sharing.
My pleasure. Many thanks for stopping by.
What a magical place Lynne. Everytime I see pictures of Halong Bay I regret having had to cut it out of our itinerary for later this year. That second shot is absolutely stunning!
I agree, Madhu. That second shot is one of my favorites. I am well aware of itinerary changes. We are facing that as well. I need another lifetime.
What a lovely journey you took us on today, thank you! The photos, of course, are stunning. My favorite is of Win; her smile is indeed charming 🙂
Yes, Win was a pleasure…I believe our guide thought so too. They both did a lot of smiling at each other which was sweet to see. I couldn’t justify putting Halong Bay in one post and I appreciate my followers following me through the three segments. It was indeed a beautiful, worthy experience.
This is a wonderful entry, Lynne. What a beautiful place…and experience.
Thanks, Lynn. It was a memorable experience.
What a beautiful post you have, my friend! The images are amazing, and the story makes me want to buy a ticket and head that way! Very soothing. Great work/buen travajo! Z
Thanks, Lisa for your upbeat comment. Going through Ron’s images and writing the three blogs was re-experiencing the trip. We spent a month traveling Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in 2010 and there is so much more to see. How was Quito?
What a trip- what memories! A beautiful post, Lynne.
Thanks, Jo. It was indeed.
Ron Mayhew (fotograffer), my husband, gets the photo credits. Thank you, Hitesh.
He has done a great job. Kudos 🙂
I will tell Ron you said so. Thanks.
You have done fabulous job for traveler!!
Thank you very much, Nitin and for your kind comment and for visiting my blog.
The pictures are so full of life & so striking, I feel as if I’m there! The beauty is breathtaking. I can’t imagine being there in person. Lucky you!
Thanks, Tahira. it was a joy.
Your photos are fantastic!
Thank you.My husband and I work together. His photos and my words.
What a striking portrait of the woman in the non la hat, Lynne and Ron!
Thanks,Tricia. She was so photogenic, though shy.
Reminds me of the best Top Gear ever – the Vietnam Special where they finished in Halong Bay 🙂
Thank you for your comment.
I was there last year and I still get overwhelmed whenever I see pictures of the Bay. It’s such a magical place.
Yes, it is magical. I’m thankful we could make the trip and I know you are too.
I visited with my family in 2008. It was a stunning experience and your photos brought it all back for me. Thank you!
Am glad you had a great experience visiting Halong Bay and that you enjoyed the photos (my husband’s.) Thank you.
This is such a lovely post! Love the amazing photos, the beauty of Halong Bay is incredible. Thanks for sharing. 😀
Thank you for your kind comment. It was a joy to write as it brings back memories. My husband gets the photo credits.
Stunning I really want to go there…
I hope you get to visit. It is indeed worth it. Thank you for stopping by.
Beautiful people, beautiful place. You’ve made me want to go there even more. Loved this post and am now keen to read more of your blog. Intrigued by your little blurb that says you and your husband volunteer abroad. Sounds fabulous. You’re amazing!
Thank you for your kind comments. I love sharing our travels and at some point and time I will write on volunteerism. I look forward to visiting your blog.
beautiful pictures. they really catch the feeling and essence of not only the place but the people.
My husband gets the photo credits. Thank you for your kind comment.
My wife and I LOVED Halong Bay despite the 3 days of overcast skies during our visit. Absolutely stunning scenery! Fantastic post.
Thank you so much for your feedback. Am glad your experience was a positive one even though it was overcast. It truly is a beautiful place.
What a fun travel adventure for me… from the comfort of my own couch! Thank you!
My pleasure.armchair traveler.:) I’m pleased you enjoyed the adventure.
Awesome photos! I need to remember to do more outdoor activities on my next trip to Asia. It’s easy to forget how beautiful nature is when you’re on vacation.
Thank you for your comments. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/. You are so right. It is easy to get caught up in the non nature activities when traveling. I spend a lot of time in museums, etc. but I am so glad we visited Halong Bay.
What an awesome experience and wonderful photos capturing the moment. Really lovely post.
I appreciate your comment about the post. I have to give my husband the photo credits.
Can’t wait to go here, look amazing!
Thank you for saying so. I do hope you make it.
This looks like a beautiful part of the world. I guess it might get pretty routine living there day in, day out, but the surroundings must be amazing to a first-time visitor. I’d love to go there one day.
I am sure it is pretty routine to the fishermen of Halong Bay. Many have never been out of the area. It is a way of life and one they cling to. Yes, to a first time visitor it is incredible beauty.
Thank you for the great article and pictures, Halong Bay is no longer on my would be nice to see, rather it is on the must see after reading your post.
Good for you! Do plan to go. See my first article on Halong Bay where I mention the season.
Thank you. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.
It’s an amazing place isn’t it? I was there in April. Sadly we didn’t visit the village and now I wish we had. Such a kind and interesting people. We did Kayak around the bay (which I wont do again – my friend and I were terrible at it!). We saw the hidden bay and the monkeys and the most amazing sunset. We also went into the amazing cave system, which was a real highlight for me. The tourist trade is in full swing and I really hope they keep a good balance between the tourists and the ecosystem. It would be a devastating loss if we ruined it.
Yes, it is an amazing place. The impact of tourism and fishing will in time create problems. Let’s hope steps will be in place to correct this.
wonderful post! i love your photos, so crispy clear, its like i was actually there viewing the scenery.. thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your kind comment.Am pleased you found the writing clear and that you liked the images. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.
These are my kind of people!
Very nice pictures to accompany a fine article.
My finest Regards, BH
Wonderful people. Hard working and proud of their heritage. I’m pleased you liked the article.
Nice post indeed….the photo of the fisherwoman was charming
Btw, only one slight correction though – Jawaharial Nehru is actually Jawaharlal Nehru …..Hope you don’t mind.
Thanks for your comment. She does have a lovely smile.
Thanks for the memories! I spent a month in Vietnam 10 years ago and it was a most inspiring trip. Ha Long Bay was just one of the many adventures. It is too bad that the bay is so polluted by all the diesel fuel spilling into it. When I became an ex-pat, I had considered Vietnam but am so happy I chose France.
Am glad this brought back pleasant memories. Thanks for your comment.
Wow..Those pictures are amazing sight!
Sometimes I miss this kind of simple life back to my childhood..The air and water must be fresh on there.. We can’t see this kind of situation on regular news site.
Put halong bay on the list 🙂 Thanks for sharing Lynne!
Am so pleased you liked the article and photos. It is as you say, a simple life, but one these fishermen are culturally tied to. Taking care of the ecosystem will always be a challenge. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.
Brings back fabulous memories of our trip to Vietnam. unfortunately due to a hurricane in the area we were unable to go out on the junk ride around Halong Bay. Our tour guides were awesome and filled in that time with other things to see and do. Highly recommend visiting this lovely country.
What a disappointment to have to miss the ride on the bay, but sounds like they kept you active. I hope to go back to Vietnam and spend more time. I agree, it’s a great destination.
Reblogged this on Andy: Photographer, Traveler & Chef and commented:
The Fishermen of Halong Bay, Vietnam
Thank you for reblogging this post on your site.
Ha Long Bay is one of the coolest places I have visited. Great for photographers. Excellent set of captures you have here.
Thank you Kurt. Am pleased you like the article and photos and that you enjoyed your visit to Halong Bay.
Thank you so much. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.
That was great! I love your post. Your pictures are beautiful. Congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed.
Please feel free to visit my blog at http://germch55.wordpress.com for virtual tours of New York.
Thank you for your gracious comments and congratulations. I look forward to visiting your blog. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.
He has some great pictures!
Reblogged this on Ron Mayhew Photography and commented:
Lynne was Freshly Pressed yesterday, Thursday, 9/6/2012. Congratulations!
Thank you dear husband for your support, encouragement and for your lovely photos. I treasure our travels together and look forward to many more.
Your photographs ooze peace& tranquillity in that part of the world. Looks very similar to my experience on a small junk in Phang Nga Bay in Thailand; with vast limestop outcrops jutting out of the sea. Looking forward to visiting Halong and Vietnam!
I love your description…ooze. Yes, it was tranquil. Great experience. I have only been to Bangkok and would love to see more of Thailand. Perhaps visit the area you just mentioned. Thanks for your comment.
Thanks for the amazing photos! Very interesting article!
I’m pleased you like the article.A rewarding experience. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.Thank you for your comment.
Halong Bay is a magical place! Your experience is enviable!
🙂 Thanks for sharing…
My pleasure. I enjoyed sharing this 3 part series on Halong Bay. So much to say about this “magical” environment. Thank you for your comment.
And you’re lucky to see the beauty of Halong Bay! 🙂
Interesting country and landscape. Good place for vacation 🙂
There are places in Thailand and China that are similar with the limestone karsts, but Halong Bay makes for a memorable experience. Great vacation choice.
Beautiful photos. Congratulations.
Thank you for your kind comments.
Thanks for sharing this. Very nice photos. Connie
Thank you so much, Connie. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.
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Thanks for the pingback, Gigi.
Your BLOG is REALLY beautiful, very well structured and have a huge potential.GREAT JOB!!!and GOOD LUCK:)
Thank you very much for your gracious comment.
I recently visited Halong Bay and loved it! Your photos really captured its beauty.
I’m pleased you like the article and I’m so glad you took the opportunity to visit this beautiful World Heritage Site. I tribute the photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com/.Thank you for your comment.
Reblogged this on Makais Blog and commented:
on my travel “to do” list!
Thank you for reblogging this on your website.
Reblogged this on Lloyd Lofthouse.
Your husband’s photos are gorgeous! (And Ha Long Bay is so photogenic.)
I will tell Ron you said so. Yes, it is a very photogenic area, peaceful and surreal at times.
Reblogged this on ALABADO SEA JEBÚS.
Thanks for reblogging this on your website.
Love the pic of smiling girl 🙂 Good post!
She was so sweet and photogenic. Thank you for your comment.
I just went there a couple weeks ago it appears with the same company! Lovely pics. Are you just visiting? Here are my pics from a few weeks prior and more of Vietnam on my blog if you are interested. http://juraphotos.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/halong-bay-bay-of-the-descending-dragon/
I just looked at your photos. Beautiful. Thanks for visiting my website. We were in Vietnam two years ago.
Wow, amazing and such a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks for your comment. It was a memorable trip.
Thanks for sharing these incredible pictures! I’d love to experience Vietnam some day.
I enjoyed sharing this experience. Vietnam is an incredibly diverse and beautiful country to explore. Happy travels.
Amazing pictures!! I love the way you have captured the color and beauty of the area but also an essence of the people – I love the photograph of Win!
Thank you for your lovely comments. Understanding a culture is important to me so I ask a lot of questions and keep a journal. I tribute the lovely photos to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com.
Reblogged this on zozu1704 and commented:
The Fishermen of Halong Bay, Vietnam
So beautiful! I’m on my way there come October 1st. I can’t wait. 22 days and counting…..
How exciting! I hope your trip is a memorable as ours was.
It should be an awesome time. Your photos got me even more excited!
Incredibly heartwarming. Thank you for this inspiration. ♥
Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased it felt heartwarming. Beautiful culture.
I loved Halong Bay and this post reminds me of exactly why that was. Thank you for the post Lynne, it’s certainly bringing back great memories.
Am so pleased my post spoke to you, bringing back fond travel memories. Vietnam is a beautiful and diverse country to travel through. Thank you for your comment.
looks like a beautiful place… thanks for sharing ur account of the Bay 🙂
It was my pleasure to write and document this lovely journey, the photos I tribute to my husband http://ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com.
Thank you for your comment.
Great pictures to illustrate the descriptions!!! My husband is a photographer too and we love to combine my writing with his photos… good team effort!
Thank you so much. Our working together has been such a pleasure for both of us as it is for you. Ron manages two blogs of his own and was the one to encourage me to get started with mine.I look forward to visiting your site.
Ya of course now we just want to spend all of our time traveling but we´re both in 20´s and newly weds so we are still looking for ways to make money to travel! haha. I have been on and off with my blog since I started this one but I´m looking forward to focusing on it more and try to build it up. For some reason, I´m a crazy blogger when I´m abroad and once I´m back home nothing seems “exciting” to blog about haha
Congratulations Lynne! Your blog is so beautiful and deserves the recognition 🙂
Why thank you, Madhu. This was an unexpected surprise for me as I feel like I’m still new to this.
My ‘BArrio of Kitsch’ was FPd the week before 🙂 And I was on my way to Bangalore at the time!
Congratulations to you, too. that was such a colorful post. I remember it well. Going out of town during your “moment of fame:”, as Ron and I have dubbed FPed, must have created a never ending catch up. By the way, hope the family trip and the 90th birthday for your father-in-law went well.
Wow ! I like your pics. Here are ours, a little more up to the north 😉 http://lesbaroudeurs.me/2012/08/06/le-vietnam-en-10-photos/
Thanks for the pics. I look forward to viewing them.
Cool pix and story – thanks for sharing. Vietnam’s been on our ‘must visit’ bucket list for a while, but somehow we haven’t yet got there. Must make more effort! And it is through visiting such places, I think, that we can get insights into the wider and deeper sides of the human condition.
I do hope you make a trip to Vietnam.We spent a month touring Vietnam, the Mekong River, Cambodia and Laos. We could have used more time. I completely agree, we are exposed to the human condition and getting off the beaten path shows another variance. One walks away with a deeper understanding. Thanks for your insightful comment. Happy travels.
I was just in Halong Bay and I feel like this post really accurately depicts it! It really was a beautiful place to visit and interesting to see yet another way the Vietnamese make their livings. Nice pictures too 🙂
We had to choose between Halong Bay or Sapa and chose the bay this time. Hopefully when we visit Vietnam again, we will visit Sapa. The bay was an closeup view into a thriving culture. I’m pleased your trip was a positive one. Thanks for your comment.
I read your article about Halong Bay and Ron’s photos. They are awesome. Thanks for beautiful words about my country. Hai Truong-the guide in Saigon and Mekong Delta.
I am so honored by your comment and am pleased you like the article. Eventually, I will write about our memorable experiences along the Mekong. We think of you and hope you are doing well.
Pingback: How to find the best junk boat to explore Halong Bay, Northern Vietnam « The Hungry Wanderer
Stunning scenery. I hope to get there soon before it goes the way of the travel dodo. Congrats on the press from a fellow freshly pressed alum! Great work
Thank you Dan for your comment on Halong Bay and for being freshly pressed. I just visited you blog and am following. Interested in you views and places traveled to. Safe travels and write…write…write.
Thank you. I agree. It is a beautiful and serene landscape.
Somehow missed Vietnam when I was in the region in 2009. Well, now I guess I must go back! Thank you! Beautiful photos and story!
Oh yes, do go back. Vietnam beckons us to return. Safe and meaningful journeys to you…
Hey, thank you for bring us a trip to Halong Bay,I hope I can be there too, joy !
My pleasure.Am pleased you enjoyed going on the visual and written trip with us. I do hope you can make it there some day.
Very beautiful! Can’t wait to visit Halong Bay this coming November! Thanks for sharing this.
Am pleased you are going to visit Halong Bay soon. It’s a beautiful place. Thank for your comment.
Beautiful, Lynne! You give an insight into a country that was a no-go area for so many years( even the name VIETNAM brought with it a shiver of dread) but which in peace time has opened its beauty to foreigners to enjoy. And the photos capture a dreamlike quality. I would love to travel there one day.
You are right, Vietnam was not a destination for westerners for many years, but it really is worth a visit. Tourism in SE Asia has become big business. I hope you make it there someday.TY for your lovely comment, Elaine.
I really want to go there.
I hope you will some day. Beautiful spot and I believe you live closer to it than I do. Best wishes.
I also went to Halong Bay and a similar floating village there in January 2011. (Maybe the same one)… Your pictures are much more beautiful than mine, though! I love them!! I love those colorful floating villages there!
It seems Halong Bay has been a favorite destination for many. I read your account of the trip and that you were cold. We were fortunate to have good weather. My favorite part of the trip was visiting this village and thanks to Ron’s photography, he brings out the best. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I know how hard your are trying to catch up.
You were so lucky to have found good weather there. Ron’s photos are wonderful and it was still nice to relieve my time there through your post… and better weather!
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Congrats on being FPed, Lynne!!! Beautiful photos! And you posted this on my birthday!!!
Thanks for your visit and the well wishes. Now it makes it doubly special…I’ll remember that it was your birthday. Happy Belated! 🙂
Reblogged this on jphandi.
Tremendously beautifully sharp photos, enjoyed every bit of it!
Thanks you for your visit and kind words. I have to give my photographer husband the credit.