Photographer's Note

Ninh Binh - Trang An - Theme Park Vietnam

Dedicated to Malgo and Gert who have been waiting so patiently for these pictures.

Trang An is located near the city of Ninh Binh about 90 kilometers south of Hanoi.
The area consists of many limestone rocks, rice fields, caves and of course a lot of water. The visits take place in small rowboats on the river. Oddly enough, most rowers are older women.
Its rock formations, caves and the landscape have given the area the name ‘Halong Bay on land’.

Here's some explanation why I gave this title to my picture.
At the end of March and during the first half of April I visited Vietnam.
Because of the vastness of the country, the limited time and the fact that in travel guides the north was described as the most traditional part, I chose to travel only in the north.

The regions I visited were very beautiful, especially then in terms of nature and landscapes.
I have found the Vietnamese people to be very friendly and helpful. It was clearly also one of the more safe countries in the world. The food was delicious. Actually I had a culinary holiday. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort during the trip (while I’m not really looking for luxury).

BUT … as a European choosing for a trip to Southeast Asia, I expected a somewhat adventurous journey … which it was really not.
This was my very first visit to Vietnam. More than twenty years ago I’ve made four other trips through Southeast Asia. Meanwhile the world has changed radically. Also Southeast Asia has changed a lot.
The economy of Vietnam has (fortunately) grown sharply and the number of foreign visitors has increased enormously.
To put it mildly, everywhere I went, there were a multitude of tourists!

I know, everyone wants to be a tourist but preferably not to meet too many fellow tourists which has become an unrealistic point of view today.
Why was not I really aware of this? I read two guide books and their general idea was that traveling in Vietnam was quite adventurous. Here in Belgium I had spoken with two individual travelers who had been there recently. But those talks did not give me the impression that the country had mass tourism.
In Vietnam, I heard that the increasing number of foreign visitors is a rather recent fact.
Good value for money in Vietnam would be the main reason for it. As well as the loss of a large part of the Islamic world as a travel destination for western people.

Again, I know it’s not very realistic to go somewhere and to think that no other people have the intention to visit the same places that I find so interesting.
I admit that I do like to meet other travelers but I also enjoy to leave the crowds behind me every now and then. This proved only partly possible in the places close to the Chinese border (this area is sometimes referred to as Vietnam’s last frontier). But even there, there were many more tourists than I expected.

I know it makes little sense to continue on this. It’s a fact that I returned with very mixed feelings.
While we are already more than four months later, still a feeling of a little disappointment remains. I really don’t like being in the crowd of tourists all the time. During most of my journey I felt like being in a large theme park together with so many other westerners (and also with tourists from other Asian countries) and the subject of that theme park was ‘Vietnam’.

I think I have some beautiful photos of the trip … but these are only images … and they do not represent the real atmosphere picture.

Funny but in July I made a 2-weeks trip to another European country and for me that was much more a discovery ...

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4553 W: 17 N: 10826] (44052)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2017-03-29
  • Categories: Nature
  • Exposure: 30 seconds
  • Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
  • Date Submitted: 2017-08-26 23:50
Viewed: 2510
Points: 64
Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4553 W: 17 N: 10826] (44052)
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