Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bai Tu Long Bay - Caves and kayaks

By late afternoon of the first afternoon of our voyage through Bai Tu Long Bay, our junk sailed into a sheltered cove of one of the many islands.
Two other junks operated by the same company were already anchored in the cove.
Apparently the company has exclusive rights to the island, which meant we didn't have
to battle the crowds and litter that mar other island stops.
We climbed into a little dinghy and made our way to shore.


It was as hot and humid as ever, and the white sand and cool waves of the beach beckoned.  But first . . . SPELUNKING!

Vanessa at the mouth of the cave.
Hidden away up in the cliffs, the little crevice in the rocks was hardly even noticeable, but, once inside, the cave opened up wonderfully. 

It was an honest-to-goodness pirates' fishermen's lair.  They lived in the cave and fished, selling their fish to passing boats and only rarely going to the mainland.  When the Indochina Junk company acquired rights to the island a few years ago, the company paid for the fishermen to relocate to an actual village.

One nice feature of the cave is that it had two entrances.  The rear opening led to a great lookout point over the cove, where our junk awaited.


After clambering back through the cave and down the mountainside, we decided it was time for some sea kayaking.
This picture was taken by yours truly.
Note how nice it looks.
This picture was taken by one of the crewmen.
He probably took about ten different shots, and each one had less of the kayak than
the others.  Did he not realize that the entire reason we were taking the picture was
to show that we were going KAYAKING?
We took the kayak out past a nearby island and around the back.  Once we were out of sight and earshot of the rest of our group, we paused to soak in the moment.  There we were, two people at the ends of the earth, floating in a tiny kayak in the middle of all this splendid nature.  So calm.  So peaceful.  It was glorious.  (And we even managed not to drop Vanessa's camera as we passed it between us to take these photos.)
After soaking up the scenery, we zigzagged our way around the island and back to the beach.  We didn't win any awards for elegant kayaking form, but we had fun and the exertion felt good. 
By the time we pulled our kayak ashore, the sun had fallen enough to take the edge off the intense heat of the day.  With all the humidity in the air, the low angle of the light made the world look soft and grey.  The water was just barely cooler than you might want for a bubblebath; cool enough to feel almost refreshing. 

A commotion arose on one end of the beach when a giant white jellyfish floated through the shallows.  We waded over to see it, and the sailors warned us that it was extremely poisonous.  As I watched the round, undulating body, it occurred to me that I'd seen something similar only a few minutes earlier -- I had been swimming further out and noticed a large white round thing beneath my feet.  I'd assumed it was a trash bag or something and swam away.  Realizing that it was probably another jellyfish, and that I could easily have not seen it and swam right into it, made me think it was time to dry off on the sand.

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