Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Bopping along on the bay

"I'm just bopping along" is one of my Mum's many unique idioms.

"Bopping along" sounds a little bit like "bobbing along", and in our family it pretty much means the same thing.

It's an effective saying as when you hear it you envisage a buoy just bopping or bopping along with the tides and waves.

That's a little bit what this time of the year feels like to me.

It's not Christmas, it's not Easter, and it's not holiday time.

There's nothing overly bad or overly good going on.   You're just... "bopping along" and going with the flow.

But given the chance, I can think of a better place to be "bopping along" right now - Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Halong Bay
Halong Bay is filled with thousands of limestone karsts and isles of all shapes and sizes.  These transform the bay into a nautical maze where I imagine it would be all too easy to become lost - even with a map.
Halong Bay karst on a cloudy day

Not too long after leaving the mainland, our boat enters the maze and the disorientation begins.

Entering the Halong Bay maze

It's a cloudy day, which drains the colour from the horizon and makes the karsts in the distance look like cardboard silhouettes that might be used as stage backdrops.

The silhouette horizon

The real drama here however is working out just where we are.  

Just when I think we're going to be lost here forever, we come across a small floating village where dozens of house boats are huddled together.  This sign of life is remarkably comforting.

A village in the bay

Village meeting

The local equivalent of a 7Eleven, a woman in a canoe packed with chocolate, lollies, cigarettes and other treats, floats alongside us.  It's fair to say she works harder than the usual Slurpee seller back home and has the arm muscles to prove it.

The floating 7Eleven

Our boat could be best described as mock junk (as in Hong Kong junk, rather than household junk).   It's made out of wood, has some fan-like sails, but relies more on the diesel engine to navigate our course.

Occasionally we come across other similar boats, further alleviating my concern that we'll be lost in this bay forever.  If we are lost, at least we'll have some company and some very striking scenery to look at as we wait out the rest of our days.

At night, the skies clear to reveal a canopy of stars and it's very easy to fall asleep to the gentle rocking of the boat.

In the morning, the arrival of blue skies and sunshine has transformed the bay by illuminating the lush greenery on the karsts and the cloudy turquoise water.

Whether it's "bopping along" or "bobbing along", I'm starting to think there could be worst places to be lost in.

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