Boats come in many shapes and sizes. But not many have a tulip throne fastened to a specially made wooden base by fishing line! This unique craft awaits its captain in Halong Bay, Vietnam.
Halong Bay, on the Gulf of Tonkin, is filled with about 1600 islands and islets, many of which are uninhabitable limestone plinths, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the UN says, it is a “spectacular seascape sculpted by nature.” Thousands of people are drawn to “where the dragons descend into the sea,” the English translation of the name.
The red plastic chair brings whimsy to life in the bay where boats are the sole means of getting around between the many float neighborhoods, home to the fishermen who toil, mainly at night, in the Gulf of Tonkin. They work long, arduous hours and return to simple float houses.
I visited Halong Bay in lovely weather. I went on a small boat to cruise around the floating village. Young children were at class in the school while others were helping their parents with boat rigging. All the homes were brightly festooned with streamers. It was colorful and so beautiful. I climbed to the top of one of the islands and dove into the sea after making the trek back down.
It is a marvelous place. It seems so protected, but it’s not. This series of islands within the Bay are highly vulnerable. Like many places on the planet, as the incidents of extreme weather increase so does their danger. How seriously the government takes this concern is demonstrated by the strict travel protocols they have for typhoon season.
I admire the people of Halong Bay for their tenacity and their determination to maintain the integrity of the Bay while at the same time working to earn a living to support their families. And for being gracious hosts to the curious who visit every year. I found this ‘host’ in one of the caves.