Ha Long Bay

Landscape Of Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam). This is a landscape of the popular Ha Long Bay, in the northern part of Vietnam. Visiting this group of islands – which is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth – is a “must-do” for travelers. Unfortunately, it seems there’s a sort of “ships’ lobby”, which forces visitors to come here with two or three days cruises on expensive boats. What is frustrating – at least, to me and to my way of travelling – is the fact that every single action is determined by a rigid time schedule, which does not leave too much freedom for “doing something different” from what has been planned by organizers, like for example changing the itinerary, or staying some more minutes in a specific place.

To better explain, I took this photo of Ha Long Bay from the entrance of a very large cave (I will post some photos of it in the next days). I could spend several hours here, watching this landscape, the activities of small boats all around, or even simply the clouds moving on the sea. There was something of magic for me here, probably because I had dreamed this view for a very long time before – finally! – capturing it. And leaving this place without the feeling of having taken the image I had in my mind, was making me getting nervous, to be honest. Luckily, the final result is not so bad. But still I feel a sense of dissatisfaction watching this picture. It’s hard to explain, but “photographing around me” is not just clicking: it’s also taking my time to do it in the way I want.

Baia di Ha Long (Vietnam). Questo è il famoso panorama della Baia di Ha Long, nel nord del Vietnam. Un’escursione per vedere questo gruppo di isole – considerato da alcuni come il posto più bello del mondo – è doveroso per chi fa un viaggio in Vieetnam. Purtroppo, una specie di “lobby” delle barche costringe i visitatori a venire qui tramite costose crociere di due o tre giorni. Ciò che maggiormente mi ha infastidito, per quello che è il mio modo di viaggiare, è il fatto che ogni attività è rigidamente scadenziata, per cui non rimane molto tempo libero per fare “qualcosa di diverso” rispetto a quanto programmato dagli organizzatori (come ad esempio modificare l’itinerario o restare in un determinato posto un po’ più a lungo).

Ad esempio, ho scattato questa foto della baia di Ha Long dall’ingresso di un’enorme grotta (della quale posterò qualche foto appena possibile). Sarei stato ore a guardare questo panorama, le attività delle varie barchette, o anche solo a osservare le nuvole nel cielo. C’era qualcosa di magico qui per me, forse perchè ho veramente sognato a lungo di vedere questo posto prima di poterlo fotografare!. E andar via da qui senza la senzazione di aver scattato la foto che avevo in mente di fare, mi ha sinceramente un po’ innervosito. Per fortuna il risultato finale non è così male, ma ho ancora un senso di insoddisfazione guardando questa foto. E’ difficile da spiegare, ma “photographing around me” non è solo “cliccare”, ma anche prendersi il tempo per farlo nel modo in cui voglio.


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Weekday Afternoon at Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam). When I included Ha Long Bay in my itinerary around Vietnam, my expectations were quite high – maybe too much I must admit. The point is that I saw this places many times in postcards or websites, and I decided that definitely it was “the place to go”. As you probably know, the typical landscape of Ha Long Bay is made of hundreds islands – big or small – covered with green trees, which are in contrast with the dark gray of the rocks; and this was what I was expecting to see. Let me say, I was wrong.

As it happens frequently, my expectations were probably too high, or perhaps my eyes were already so full of that image – seen so many times before – that once I was finally there, in the famous Ha Long Bay, I was not so motivated in photographing it. Isn’t it weird? However, something else captured my attention, particularly two things; the first one was the life around that place: it was not a place only for tourists (as popular destinations normally are), but there were people living there, fishermen, pearl farms and so on. I found this unexpected authenticity quite impressive. The second one was the general quiet: thanks to the many islands around, the water was totally calm, without even small waves. And no wind at all: around me there was only silence and peace, I got the impression of being in a sort of lagoon, more than in a bay.

For this reason, when I saw this man fishing on his boat close to a typical rocky formation and on a very calm water, I thought it was the most representative photograph I could take of Ha Long Bay – at least, the most representative for what Ha Long Bay was for me.

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