15 November 2021

Halong Bay Vietnam, a few drawings from 2004


These quick drawings came from a day trip out to the islands in Halong Bay on my first trip to Vietnam in 2004. I wish I had done an overnight trip on these boats at the time as I could have filled a few notebooks. These unusual islands are fun to draw from, top-heavy, and rise up from the surface tall and beefy like dinosaurs. 

It was a sunny day so I felt lucky because it had been raining a lot the whole week when I went up to the north from Hanoi. I stayed in Haiphong in a large Soviet-style hotel which was huge and empty. Each floor was as high as a New York office lobby. The walls everywhere were polished cheap-looking rose marble, something one would see at Trump Tower. I must have been the only guest staying there because there was no sign of a living soul anywhere, and no heating, just cold, stern-looking employees eyeing me with little emotion.

The drawings are pretty simple, child-like, and crude and they look handmade because the boat was continually rocking from side to side. I had a pair of gym shorts and jumped into the chilly sea when we had stopped for lunch. Millions of people live on boats in Vietnam as well as the rest of Asia. They never shop on land because the shop comes to them bringing all their supplies. Because I am a landlubber, I remember being very moved by their very difficult and particular life on the sea, whole families tied up to other boats and anchored together for better or worse. 


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