Halong Bay Cruise

Trip Start Jan 21, 2009
1
12
25
Trip End Mar 20, 2009


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Red Dragon Junk

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Our overnight trip to Halong Bay was magical; relaxing and romantic and very interesting.  I booked the Indochina Junk Company, Red Dragon Boat through the Hotel Elegance.  We chose an Indochina Junk cruise because of their emphasis on eco-tourism. There are many tour companies and boats to choose from.  Halong Bay, part of the South China Sea is more than 1000 kilometers and is stunningly beautiful.  Most boats congregate in the same area and have a "cruise" flavor.  The Indochina Junk Company cruises a quiet part of the Bay away from the other boats, and has a "clean green ethic."

The Red Dragon Boats (1 and 2) have 5 staterooms.  We were on Red Dragon 1 for the one night cruise.  Beginning with the transport from Hanoi (about 3.5 hours), on the first afternoon we ate gourmet Vietnamese food, cruised though the most unusual scenery I have ever seen, explored a cave and went kayaking at sunset.  Dinner was an elegant affair of many "small plate" courses, all very tasty. We are now fully acquainted with Vietnamese food and it is light, healthy and delicious.

The next morning we visited a "floating fishing village."  The Indochina Junk Co. has chosen this village of about 300 residents, in the middle of the Bay quite far from land, to bring their visitors to.  They have improved the living conditions of the residents and built a small 3 room primary school.    The 30 children of various ages learn from teacher interns who volunteer to stay in the village 1 month or 2 at a time.  These kids can fish and row and they can of course identify all of the things in their environment. Most have never seen many things that exist on land.  Trucks and cars and animals like oxen and, cows and pigs, and so many other things, they have never seen, except for the pictures in the few books they have in the school. Some children do go to the mainland for middle and high school, but not so many, because they have to work to help support their families.

The village has electricity sometimes from generators and fresh water brought in by boat.  The people are very poor. Many times during the year when the weather is not good for fishing, they eat only 2 small meals a day. I am thinking that this village might be an excellent  and interesting match for the One Laptop Per Child Program.  We would not need so many computers and small server would suffice.  Just the programs and information preloaded into the XO computers even without the internet would provide more than enough learning materials to keep both the children and interested young adults in this village busy learning for years! There are satellite signals in this area (cell phone service).  Internet access is even a possibility there.

I am hoping to match this village with OLPC.org when I return home fom my trip, and put something together with the Indochina Junk Comany.  This is my new pet project. I hope you don't mind if I keep you informed of my efforts.

Mark and I really loved the Halong Bay trip. We are back in Bangkok relaxing at the pool with Ellen on her first day, and Mark's last.  He will be back in the office on Monday, overwhelmed, I am sure, but ready to navigate these increasingly difficult financial times.  We are both very grateful to have had the opportunity to take this amazing trip.
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