Sipping from my 75 cent beer, I watch what I now believe to be one of the prettiest places in the world slowly float by me.
As a child, I spent summers in Yosemite National Park; during college I explored the canyons and red rock country of southern Utah; I lived and worked in Yellowstone for one summer; I now live near the Rocky Mountains, which locals and travelers here find quite fortunate.
So I am not one to judge and rank, but this bay, with its hump-backed islands rising from the sea, its lush jungles, and its mystical light that casts vague shadows over sea and sky and land, is a poem, a dream, a place to behold.
The brochure of our “junk,” (that’s Halong Bay lingo for small cruise ship) declares “luxury you deserve.” To subscribe to that statement takes some level of arrogance and entitlement. Hell, it kind of makes me sound like a prick. I’ve done nothing to deserve our comfortable accomodations and delightful food, and I have done even less to deserve the incredible beauty now surrounding me. In some ways, I kind of fumbled my way into this place.
“But hey,” I think to myself as I take another gentle swig from my Beer Hanoi (now this is nectar of the gods), “I’ll take it.” I’ll take the calm ocean air and tranquil waters fit for an advertisement brochure. I’ll take the towering limestone towers. I’ll take the alien-esque jelly-fish. I’ll take the leisurely kayak ride through a back bay. I’ll take the distant view of a floating fishing village and an ancient way of life. I’ll take all of this profound beauty and enjoy it and appreciate it and cherish it for the lifetime memory it has now become.