Long Family      Ha Noi       Sa Pa       Ha Long Bay     Buet Thap

Me in a serviceable, though not particularly elegant, inflatable kayak.

I'm wearing a green pith helmet in a style originally worn by French colonial administrators, adopted by the North Vietnames Army during the war and now worn by cyclo drivers and tourists.

I and three friends arranged a three-day tour through Buffalo Tours in Ha Noi. Our guide picked us up in a van, which took us to the pier at Ha Long City.

Our support boat and inflatable kayaks, beached for the evening at low tide. For three days this boat followed us around, serving as kitchen, dining room and sleeping den.

It was manned by a captain, a cook, a third crewmember, our kayaking guide, his assistant, and a policeman, whose presence is demanded by the government for reasons never specified (perhaps to make sure tourists don't buy corals or other illegal items offered by passing fishermen).

Excellent seafood meals included, for all this we each paid $159.

One of many lagoons in Ha Long Bay. Some can be entered at low tide through navigable tunnels.

The French movie Indochine, starring Catherine Deneuve, made cinematic use of the spectacular scenery of Ha Long.



The limestone hills of Ha Long abound in caves that make ideal detours for exploring kayakers.

Paddling past outside are Nancy and Bill, artists from New York, and our guide Ha.

Curious children of fishermen living on houseboats scattered amongst the islands paddle up to investigate passing kayakers and ask for a dollar.

Ha Long abounds in odd limestone formations.

The tides have been carving away at the base of this natural pedestal for millions of years. How long it will continue to stand is anybody's guess

Frank, an anthropologist from Germany, taking a dip after a long day's paddle.

Sunset in Ha Long.

Ha Long Bay is one of four places in Vietnam classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Boat tender, Ha Long city, masked against the sun.

In Vietnam, suntans are associated with those who must work in the sun (i.e. lower class). Many women go to elaborate lengths to bundle up, wearing gloves, hats and cloth face masks as they go about their daily business.


Being rowed upriver to the Perfume Pagoda from My Duc, about 60 km southwest of Ha Noi.

The Perfume Pagoda is actually a famous complex of Buddhist temples and pagodas built into the side of Huong Tich Mountain (Mountain of the Fragrant Traces). The culminating pagoda is actually a large cave.

Demon on the roof of a temple dedicated to a Vietnamese military hero, on the banks of the river leading to the Perfume Pagoda.
One of the women who row pilgrims and tourists upriver to the Perfume Pagoda.
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