Halong Bay Tour – One night with a tour guide

halong bay captain junk
That’s not the tour guide. He should be the captain of the boat.

I hope the title of this post has not led you to think otherwise. But the story starts on a rough, windy night on board the deck of a Chinese junk, cruising along the waters of Halong Bay.

“In Singapore, men find Vietnamese brides. In Vietnam, men find Singaporean wives.”

That was what he said to me during that fateful night.

* * *

I, together with Friend S and W were on our Halong Bay “cruise”, and we had come up to the upper deck to enjoy some breeze, which took on the form of cold wind blowing right smack at our faces.

“Come, sit here with us,” said one of the two tour guides. One can understand Chinese. He worked in Malaysia for 3 years at a construction site. He has returned to Vietnam because the work is too hot and dusty. He also knows how to sing Chinese songs. Everything from Lao Shu Ai Da Mi (Mouse loves Rice 老鼠爱大米) to Deng Li Jun’s (Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin 月亮代表我的心) (The Moon Represents my heart). I shall call him Mr Chinese Songs.

He tells us in Halong Bay, over 10,000 visitors stay overnight in the winter season. In summer, the number doubles to 20,000. Each night, 200 junk boats lay floating on the waters of Halong Bay, for tourists like us to spend the night. 500 small boats transport these tourists around during the day.

Next to him was our tour guide, who had taken us to the caves and to kayak during the day. He looks scholarly, with his geeky looking spectacles and high cheekbones. He is Mr Canon.  He is 30 years old, with no girlfriend.

“I use to have, but now no more. Too busy.” he says.

Apart from being a tour guide, he studies three times a week at night. He brings tour groups to different places. Sapa, Halong Bay, and central Vietnam to places like Hue and Hoi An. I guess Mr Canon is high in demand because his English is very good. He was a teacher before that, and studied for a year to be a tour guide, he tells us.

“So what are you studying now?” I asked.

“Politics and economics,” came the reply. I was a little surprised. Especially when it came from man who told us that a funny rock at Surprise Island (Sung Sot Island) looks like a “canon

Mr Canon shared his thoughts on the political situation in South East Asia. I used the chance to ask him about Vietnam.

“Well? If you say in the past 10 years, yes we are doing well. But in the past 5 years, not so much,” Mr Chinese Songs chimed in.

My impression of Mr Chinese Songs is changing.

“We need a leader like your Mr Lee KY. A good, talented man. Only then will the country succeed.” He continues.

Once again, I had to probe. “But Vietnam no such leader?”

“In Vietnam, no.. There is Ho Chi Minh, but he is for War. But with Governance, not yet.” He says shaking his head.

“We study many countries, like Singapore, like Korea, to see how they are successful. In Singapore it is very good. Transparent government.”

The wind blows harder, it is time for us to go back to our beds. “Goodnight and see you tomorrow,” we said. “See you. Have a good dream.” says Mr Canon.

Mr Canon’s dream is to go on a honeymoon to Singapore. But he hasn’t found a girlfriend yet. Interested parties, please leave a comment.

halong bay surprise island
How is it like to work at Halong Bay, day in and day out?
Halong Bay kayaking
Life on Halong Bay, at a stand for kayak rental
halong bay sung sot island
Stand for holding the boats together makes a nice little seat.
halong bay ferry sung sot island
Ferry parked, waiting for passengers to come back

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