This is one of those memories that screams cosmic romanticism. I haven’t written any lengthy prose since I finished my sci-fi novel, and I put such endeavours to the side with my present inability to solicit an agent to represent me to a legitimate publishing company. However, during my reflections on a very recent trip to the Philippines, a spark reignited that may very well push me into pursuing this type of creative writing once again, with a greater level of confidence and a more rounded understanding of the market.
While putting in months of time and effort into writing such lengthy material, I truly had little to no understanding of said market. The more I did learn, the more I felt unwelcome. As much as that may speak to the nature of the industry and my seeming detachment from some of the personalities within it, from a personal perspective it speaks more to my need to efficiently develop my level of skill, effort, and poise when it comes to my writing, my interactions with people, and my overall outlook. This inward perspective, combined with moving positive feedback from a variety of wonderful, and most importantly honest, people in my life has laid the foundation for this renewal of confidence.
I think it’s fitting with the arousal of this new spark that I muse on my trip to Ha Long Bay, the environment of which greatly provoked my imagination in relation to the cosmos I’m so damn nerdy about. The memory of this adventure continues to do so with an elevated level of passion and enthusiasm.
Almost as soon as we got back into the hotel upon returning from Sa Pa, Teresa and I booked a trip to Ha Long Bay, this one being 3 days and 2 nights upon a beautiful boat along the bay. The cost was a little greater compared to Sa Pa, but Teresa with her amazing bargaining skills was able to talk the hotel owner down in price. We ended up paying a little over $100 USD each for this one, and with everything from a guide, transportation, accommodation, and food included, as well as numerous activities all day long, this was a pretty good deal we were getting in my opinion.
It didn’t take too long to get to Ha Long, about a 3 hour bus ride with a brief stop in Haiphong towards the end. When we arrived, the bus emptied into a swarming mass of travelers, a few of whom we’d be spending the next few days with on our designated boat. Touristy, yes, but things became more sparsely populated once we boarded our threefold accommodation/dining area/rooftop chill spot.
The limestone karsts that are dotted throughout the bay are amazing, the first of the like I’ve ever seen. It took about an hour by boat to reach further out to our docking point where the surrounding mountains broke up into smaller karsts. Along the way, we enjoyed a nice lunch. Upon entering a boat, I always feel seasick for about 5-10 minutes as the initial swaying of the craft throws off my balance. Luckily, it’s something my body adjusts to fairly rapidly and I was able to thoroughly enjoy our meal.
One of the first activities we did was kayaking, something Teresa and I had never done together before. Syncing our efforts took a bit of getting used to, but we ultimately came to the conclusion that Teresa would head directional operations while I would provide the raw power necessary to propel our modest ocean-craft along the bay. It was a great time.
Later in the afternoon, we got dropped off at a small island with a tall karst at its centre which everyone ascends to the top. Here, we were provided with some amazing panoramic views of the surrounding bay and the protruding limestone structures Ha Long is famous for. Down at sea level, a spanning beach housed hundreds of people relaxing, playing soccer and volleyball, and taking in the sights. I took part in a game of soccer with some locals and some of the guys who were in our group. Fun times all around.
As the sun began to set, we headed back onto the boat, docking in the middle of the bay surrounded by the karsts. Our guide let us dive off of the two-storey boat into the water, up until a loud megaphone from the island which we’d just left started screaming at everyone in Vietnamese to return to the ships and to stop jumping into the bay. Again, fun times all around.
After a relaxing and enjoyable dinner, we all gathered on the top of our boat, drinking, snacking, lying down on wooden benches and looking up at the oxymoronic crystal clear ebony sky. We’d spoken to one of the young ladies in our group who told us that at this time of year (mid-August) an annual meteor shower graces the sky with streaks of cosmic light. She’s tried to view this show every year from different parts of the world in the Northern Hemisphere, a really cool endeavour to partake in.
The sky was lit up and beautiful, with stars twinkling in every direction. You could really see the spherical dimensions of the atmosphere and I felt absolutely tiny compared to everything surrounding us. At the time, I was also in the midst of reading Feersum Endjinn, an underrated sci-fi classic I’d mentioned in a previous post. With this novel in the background of my mind during this stellar display of beauty, creative seeds were being planted as I visually absorbed a minute, dismissible fraction of the universe in its infinite grandness. I was at peace with my love Teresa.