When I was in tenth or eleventh grade, our high school French class was subjected to the movie Indochine. It was a gorgeously filmed piece set in Vietnam (as you might’ve guessed from the name), but its sensationally melodramatic plot lines left some light scarring upon my tender young psyche. I don’t remember what possessed Christine and me to re-watch it together in college, but as we prepared to board our boat in Hai Phong, the images of the torrid love affairs between Catherine Deneuve and the steamy French junior officer who ends up sleeping with her adopted, holy shit very young looking daughter and fleeing to a monastery somewhere in the island mountains of Halong Bay... came flooding back to our minds.

Anyhow, our overnight cruise experience wasn’t like at all like the escape barge of Jean-Baptiste and Camille, but a much more posh “pleasure junk” with onboard entertainment and spa. Halong Bay looks much as I imagined, green karst hills rising from the opaque sea.

Sunrise in the bay, so mysteriously blue...

When the light is just right, a luminous layer of raindrops forms just above the water.

Towards the evening we were led on a kayaking trip through the (not always) calm waters:

We stopped at a village on the way back to Hanoi and watched a water puppet show. (Side note: I had no idea that Vietnamese folk music sounded so similar to Chinese folk music.) Kind of gimmicky but entertaining, and I still don't understand how the puppets are moved about.

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