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Photographer's Note

My last photos showed vehicles I met along the road between Hanoi and the famous Halong Bay in northern Vietnam in November 1993. After arriving in the small town of Bai Chay we were put up in two small hotels and served lunch. Then we left by bus for the port where we boarded a boat.

I noted in my diary that after a windy night and day, the sheltered water in the bay was perfectly calm. On the other hand the cloudy and hazy weather meant that already in the early afternoon the bad light made it difficult to take photos, at least with the slow Kodachrome films I used. According to the diary I was very disappointed to see the distant islands and steep hills almost lost in the haze.

We spent a few hours on sea that afternoon, including a long visit to a large cave on one island. I was happy to have brought socks and a warm sweater, because on the way back to Bai Chay it was very cold.

The next day we went back to the port after an early breakfast. I had heard the rain during the night but in the morning it had stopped. However, the light was possibly even worse than the day before.

Judging from my descriptions in the diary the photos I show today were all taken on this second day at sea. I noted that we saw many small boats but no colourful traditional junks. Our own boat was very ordinary and all other boats I saw in the port were very dull, normal and rather rusty. Nothing fancy at all.

1993 was the first year Vietnam allowed foreigners to travel individually, so the tourist business had not quite taken off. There was hardly any new infrastructure adapted to the needs of tourists. "We" had to take whatever we found. Recent photos I have seen on the internet indicate that the tourist traffic on Halong Bay nowadays looks very different. Indeed, the entire country has changed incredibly since 1993.

But in spite of some disappointments it turned out to be a very nice tour. We were 17 passengers from about a dozen countries. Since it was probably the cheapest tour available, it had only attracted experienced travellers used to the hardships of seeing the world independently, even though probably half of us (not me yet) were pensioners. There were at least half a dozen "Malgos" on the tour. ;-) Nobody complained of the relative lack of comfort (our old bus was terrible) and we all got along well together, everyone being nice and polite. Back in Hanoi a few of us relatively younger (I qualified!) had a reunion at a pub already the next day.

Today's photos speak for themselves. They were all scanned from Kodachrome slides using my brand new scanner with the same software I used before.

Here is a larger version of the main photo.

WS #1

WS #2

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9497 W: 508 N: 18489] (82054)
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