This was taken five years ago yesterday in Halong Bay, by night a mystical landscape where nearly 2,000 karst islands stab at the evening sky in Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin. Not surprisingly, it’s the most visited area in the country’s northeast. I originally meant to post it yesterday but got carried away by Slovenia’s neo-Nazi wannabes.
Halong translates to “where the dragon descends into the sea‘; the UNESCO World Heritage site does exude the feel of a legendary dragon slayer setting. While I can vaguely recall that feel and this sunset from the boat I spent the night on, my most vivid memory of the two-day bay cruise was leaving worried that it was being enjoyed and marketed to death.
Estimates vary, but according to most sources between 5,000 and 6,000 people visit daily, giving the departure pier, below, the look of a staging ground for a naval invasion. Pollution’s been on the rise; indeed a quick survey of TripAdvisor comments and reviews suggests that the problem is enough to keep people from coming back or recommending it to others.
Despite official promises to rein in the pollution, cruise junks continue to dump their waste directly into the bay, mixing with the waste that comes from the cities and communities on shore. I remember plenty of litter, too, most of it, as in most places around the planet, plastic.
I’d love to hear from people who’ve visited more recently who can provide any updates. I’m particularly interested in any links to current research or studies on the environmental impacts of tourism in the area. It’s a beautiful corner of the planet, I’d love to hear about people trying to reverse its decline.
Main image specs: ISO 800 165mm f/5.0 1/40sec
And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the blog’s 664th straight, was snapped on 28 October 2015 in Vietnam’s Halong Bay.