Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

Throughout ones life there are times when one must put their fate in another's hands such as a cardiovascular surgeon or a brain surgeon or a Vietnamese bus driver. The harrowing experience one has when driving in Vietnam gives a new appreciation to traffic control.

Yesterday was our trip to Ha Long Bay, an area east of Vietnam taking about 3 hours to drive. Great this gives a wonderful opportunity to see the lands and get outside of the city limits. While d Ha Long Bay is quite beautiful, the drive to and from almost overshadowed the whole day. About 15 unsuspecting souls entered the bus and were greeted by a friendly guide named Dang who explained the days activities and introduced us to the bus driver, Bing. Off we go.

Traveling in excess of 80 miles an hour through traffic thick with other buses and thousands of scooters you start counting the times the bus missed a scooter by an inch, and that's being generous. It is very difficult to put into words the emotions you go through traveling at this insane speed for 3 hours. I honestly think you end up being a tad loony.

Now for the trip back. Yes this trip should take about 3 hours. We made it in 2 hours 15 minutes, in the dark. There was this passenger who probably exemplified what the locals probably think how all Americans are; Dressed well, Sunglasses, over-confident and boisterous. I think he was calling mommy during that trip and the seat back in front of him now has permanent claw marks. The very nice Australian summed it up nicely; "Well that was a nice death trip". Dang thanked all of us and appreciated choosing his business. "Please remember me next time". Yes...we will remember.

Some of the scenary on the way to Ha Long Bay was both stunning and shocking for me. The majestic rice fields, the sharp jagged mountains, the beautiful architecture; contradicted with the over commercialized areas with incomplete buildings, the very crowed small providences, and the seemingly rundown villages. But even with these hardships life goes on and you really being to appreciate what you have, and feel somewhat ashamed that you complain because you didn't get enough caramel in your mocha. Perspective.

Ha Long Bay is a very beautiful place. It is very awe inspiring and overwhelming. Fortunately we were able to get a close view of some of the environment as we boarded a boat and traveled slowly through the Bay. I hope you can get a sense of that in today photos.

It was unfortunate we had such of tough drive as the real purpose was to experience as much of Vietnam as we can. I am very glad we had the opportunity to go to Ha Long Bay and will not only have a fun story to tell, but have lasting memories of the culture.


William said...

Hi Jeff! Finally figured out how to respond to your blog. I've been checking email everyday instead of looking for your blog! Your bus ride sounds very much like a wild ride we had through Bombay a coup[le of years ago -six lanes of traffic fitted into three.
Love your posts, you express yourself very well Mr. Correspondent!
Love, Dad

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff! Finally figured out I need to approved with apassword. Amazing journey to Ha Long Bay. How did the kids do? Your description reminds me of my first trip from the airport to our lodgings in Madras - people bathing by the roadside with a bamboo curtain, autorickshaws, scooters, lorries and Ambassadoor taxi's all beeping at each other as much to let other drivers know they are there in as freindly a way as possible given the circumstances. Have a wonderful flight home,
Happy New Year, love, Dad