When I was in high school, our French teacher, out of boredom, subjected our class to the movie Indochine. It was a gorgeously filmed piece set in colonial Vietnam, but its sensational melodramas scarred my tender young psyche ever so lightly. I don’t remember what possessed Christine and me to re-watch it together in college, but as we boarded 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 embrace 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.
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 its Chinese counterpart.) Kind of gimmicky but entertaining, and I still don't understand how the puppets move about.