South China Sea

Spent a few days on tiny Monkey Island, just off Cat Ba. The area’s highlight is Halong Bay, a dream seascape of steep karst mountains rising from the South China Sea. But I have been there before – and the sky was overcast – so I decided to check out some islands.

My island is boring but kayaking there is great. Many islands there are tiny, some little more than impossibly tall pillars, and are easy to go around. Stopped at a beach – there are countless little beachlets on the islands accessible only from the sea – and immediately had a group of laughing boys on my kayak, nearly capsizing it. They helped me pull it ashore, and the usual photo sessions followed. As if they’d never seen a tall European before. Everyone wanted a photo on an armful of cell phones, almost. More fun than the kayaking…

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