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Vietnam - Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay was the most naturally beautiful place I saw in Vietnam. Like most beautiful outdoor places, photographs don't really do it justice. The weather was a bit overcast on the day I went there, but it turns out it almost always is anyway. The bay consists of thousands of small rock islands popping up out of the bay, many of which have large caverns.
This is me with my "I'm trying to not strangle the little beggar children" look. When taking this photo, we were taking small boats into a large cavern that was featured in an old movie called Indochina, which I haven't seen. We were absolutely surrounded by a small pack of the most annoying and persistent beggar kids I encountered in Vietnam, and they were driving me crazy. One bad and frequently unremarked upon part of this region is that there are a lot of people that live out on the water permanently. Most don't send their kids to school, and either teach them to do the fishing and other work that is their traditional way of living, or let them beg from tourists. I wasn't so much annoyed by the beggars as with their parents that allow it or even encourage it, and saddened by the fact that a generation of ignorant and uneducated people will be left to grow up that way.
These are some of the people I met along the way. On the right is Mindy, one of the young ladies I mentioned on my main page that's teaching English in Saigon to get a year of living in before university. On the left is Meg, who used to be the administrator of a church but quit to move onto something else. She decided to do a bit of traveling for a month or two before getting a new job, so she ended up touring Vietnam. She bunked in with Mindy and Emily (next photo), and they took the Reunification Express from Saigon to Hanoi. Meg was going through Cambodia and back home after this.
The couple on the left are Walter and Anne doing a six month tour together (very cool idea). Next are Yukari and Kenchiro. They're both from Japan, and on the right are the three I mentioned before.