Pick up your camera. Point it any direction. Take a photo.
There is a 97 per cent chance that if you are in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, your photo will turn out to be amazing.
Ha Long Bay is hands-down the most visually pleasing work of nature I have ever seen. Jagged limestone formations sticking out of a pearly green bay. Roughly 2,000 islets (exact number varies from source to source) spread over 1,553 square kilometres, emerge out of the water, peaking at different heights.
This place has seen 500 million years of climate and geographical changes and evolved as a tropical green biosystem which is home to 14 endemic floral specials and 60 faunal species.
But along with all the flora and fauna, it is also home to about 1,300 Vietnamese fishermen, some of whom have never stepped foot on dry land and call this bay home. This bay was also home to us for just over 24 hours and that gave us a pretty good idea as to why these people never want to leave.
My Vietnam Flickr album has select shots of Ha Long Bay that try to convey the feeling of quiet, serenity and awe one feels here. A few of my favourites are below.
Drooping wrinkles, monotone voice and an empty look in his eyes, this man was born in the Ba Hang floating village and has only stepped foot on mainland for family emergencies. Decades of paddling boats full of tourists, there is wisdom in his walk and no regrets in the seldom smiles.
A teen resident of the Ba Hang floating village cracks jokes, sings traditional songs and doesn’t stop smiling as his scrawny arms effortlessly maneuver the paddles of his light wooden boat, and it glides through the paradise that he calls home.
What's your address? It can be anywhere in Halong Bay. The Emotions junk boat decided to dock in the middle of beauty, nature and photogenic views.
Everyday hordes of tourists pile into tender boats and get drifted away to their junk cruises on Ha Long Bay. Mid-day, during tourist rush hour, this tender boat owner calmly slips into a nap, immune to the horns and hoots around him.
Ancient limestone formations ascend out of the water (or from the mythological dragon’s back – whichever one you prefer) and colonial junk boats nestled in different coves of the bay make every moment spent in Ha Long Bay so picturesque.