I haven’t met many passengers who tire of the Halong Bay seascape. It’s enough for them to sit on the Emeraude’s deck, book in lap, and look out upon the karsts, no matter the weather. The karsts themselves defy boredom, even for me. I’ve been looking at the same karsts day after day for years on end now, but the weather continually lends them new personalities.
Halong Bay is not only about the limestone karsts, or the cavernous grottoes hollowed out of so many of these islands. What else, many passengers want to know, is there to see in Halong Bay. And what particularly, they want to know, of wildlife.
I could talk to you of the great flights of gulls I’ve seen, and the petrels flying with legs dangling over the jade green waters. I’ve seen a huge, 1.5-meter lizard sunbathing on a limestone shelf. I’ve never see any descendents of the dragon that carved out the islands of this bay thousands of years ago, though I can’t say for sure whether that lizard is not one of his descendents.
I wish I’d seen and could tell you about the golden-headed langur, one of the world’s most endangered primates. Only several dozen individuals endure, and they all live on the largest of Halong Bay’s islands – Cat Ba. I’ve met people who have seen them, early in the morning trekking through Cat Ba National Park. But we’ve lost most of these great primates to the pot, and to the unending craziness that holds the bones and organs of these monkeys as a panacea to one thing or another.
We don’t see the golden-headed langur out here, but we do see plenty of macaques. Whether they’re rhesus macaques or Assamese macaques, I can’t say. Both species live in northern Vietnam. They’re playful and rather common here among the islands of Halong Bay. We often see them from kayaks when we’ve paddled into a lagoon. You’ll see troops of these yellow-gray coated guys going about their business — making you their business. They’re strong critters with naked faces, and they can grow quite large. The biggest I ever saw looked to be about 10 kg.
It seems they’ll eat anything, which is why they’re often interested in the Emeraude Cruise’s passengers! They’ve been fed before, and they’ll come down to you, looking for a handout and making a racket when they don’t get what they want. Indeed, they’re known to be a ‘weedy species’ of animal due to their ability to love near humans, and to live off humans.
But what weeds! As common as they are, they’re still a sight to behold… as if there were any such shortage of things in Halong Bay .
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