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Vietnam - Ha Long among the rice paddies

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

I am in Tràng An in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The rower takes us through a landscape of karstic peaks criss-crossed by valleys and framed by almost vertical cliffs, hence its nickname of Hạ Long among the rice paddies.

Rowers have a very special technique. They row with their feet. They must have thighs of steel...

Some of the caves we visit reveal traces of human activity dating back 30,000 years, more or less two months.

The rower also takes us to camouflaged temples in the forest and even in caves. One such temple, the Tran Temple, was built 800 years ago by the kings of the Tran Dynasty to serve their religious activities. We can enter it but the shoulders and the legs must be covered and... we must remove our shoes... oops... I am being scolded by a priest. I had omitted this obvious rule for a Vietnamese but not for me, the Westerner who had just arrived in the land of the dragon.

Offerings are placed by visitors on the altars. Incense, of course, but also bottles of water, banknotes, boxes of biscuits and... cigarettes that burn together with the incense.

The next day, we go on a motorbike to explore the surroundings. Temples, pagodas, cemetery where goats allow themselves to graze on the flowers offered to the ancestors.

Short stop at the Tam Cốc wharf where the rowers, waiting for customers, play Co Tuong, a game which rules are almost the same as chess except seems to arouse much more passion.

Finally, grilled duck supper in one of the many gargottes on the street in Tam Cốc.

P.S. There are a lot of young girls who travel with backpacks, alone or in pairs. I am impressed by their spirit of adventure and proud to see these women who do not let themselves be stopped by the additional difficulties they encounter while traveling because of their gender.

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