Today was a highlight day. A day long boat trip around the beautiful archipelago of islands around Cat Ba Island; Lan Ha bay and Ha Long Bay. The boat held around 18 of us, of all nationalities, happily turning out to be people very much like ourselves, wanting a quiet and tranquil experience of the bays.
Shaggy topped Karst islands rising vertically out of blue green water, with tiny crescents of white sand at their bases. Monkeys clambering among the jungly foliage. We were able to swim, and snorkel, explore caves and coves and, perhaps the most magical part of the day, to take ourselves off kayaking, paddling slowly beneath a low arch eroded in the limestone into an secret lagoon. Bright blue sky above and walls of bright foliage and grey rock rising up around us, and for a while, we had the place to ourselves. The stillness under the hot sun, except for the lapping of water and the mewing of sea eagles circling above almost made you want to hold your breathe.
We landed on a floating village, family living huts supported on floating frameworks of bamboo and oil drums. Small children were teasing the fish and grannies were dozing. A junk sailed past, reminding Clare of the little wooden junk, which had belonged to her mother, from her childhood in China.
Then we sailed back to Cat Ba slowly between the maze of islands, sailing into the setting sun. The end of a perfect day.