The natural progression for the travel journal after Vienna should be Venice but since we did not spend much time in Venice and since we just visited Ha Long Bay, might as well I do a two in one. And then as I started to write, I remembered how the experience in Ha Long Bay reminded me of the experience in the Backwaters of Kerala. We have similarly spent one night on the boat in the Backwaters as we did in Ha Long Bay and we did cruised and enjoyed the same carefreeness, if such a word exists.
Ha Long Bay is picturesque and the sights are pretty amazing. But that place felt very touristy and lacking in some character. The Backwaters, although there are also many tour operators there, the environment did not feel as congested as Ha Long Bay. The atmosphere was more relaxed and there are tons of character. But perhaps I am not comparing apple to apple. In the Backwaters, we had a whole boat to ourselves with our own captain and private cook. And it also costs much less than the Ha Long Bay trip.
Comparatively, I will visit the Backwaters again without having to think but I don’t think I want to return to Ha Long Bay. Picture to picture, the Backwaters does not seems at all comparable to those magnificent limestone hills of Ha Long Bay but there is a natural calm to the Backwaters, and definitely much more authentic.
What about Venice? A completely different animal altogether. It does not have the natural surroundings of the Backwaters nor Ha Long Bay but instead is surrounded by many beautiful buildings with some very nice architecture. Although it is somewhat a tourist city, in itself it has a lot of life. It is a real city where real people live and work and has a life. The way the canals run through those beautiful old buildings makes it one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. We did not spend enough time in Venice but will I return to Venice? Definitely.
The Backwaters is a small town on water. Venice is a city on water. Ha Long Bay is a tourist destination on water.
Pictures say a thousand words, so here they are.
BACKWATERS, KERALA, INDIA
HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM