DP Challenge: Victory; the Water Villages of Ha Long Bay, VN
“Great victory requires great risk.”
Today’s DP challenge is victory. Although not obvious, I’ve chosen to illustrate the concept by posting about the people of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Ha Long Bay is a gloriously beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site made up of amazing limestone rock formations across a blue-green sea. Here’s a shot of a boat similar to the one on which we sailed. Sadly, last year one of these boats sank in the middle of the night and many of the passengers died.
“The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself.”
Ha Long translates to “descending dragon” and comes from the legend that the Vietnamese were sent dragons from heaven to help them defeat their enemies in ancient times. Well known for its amazing scenery, Ha Long Bay is also home to an incredible community of people who live their entire lives on the water. Many of them have never seen land, and marriages often take place between young people whose villages are located around the next bend in the water. The exceptions are those few who take the daily catch to seafood buyers who meet them along the shore to buy the result’s of the day’s efforts.
“Compassion crowns the soul with its truest victory.”
Beyond fishing, a key source of revenue for the community is the income derived from tourists like ourselves, who marvel at their lives and their industry – and of course who often purchase their offerings or pay for a short boat tour through their community.
“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat for it is momentary.”
We found them happy, friendly, and incredibly busy. They were surrounded by the most amazing colors; bright, vivid and oh so photogenic!
“Tomorrow’s victory is today’s practice.”
Our overriding impression was that their lives on the water must be incredibly difficult. That notwithstanding, so many of the floating homes we saw were filled with children and pets – all seemingly content with their lot in life.
“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.”
There were so many fascinating sights we hardly knew where to look. We were taken on a small boat (piloted in our case by a very able older woman) around the community to observe the people who lived there – all of them remarkably unconcerned about our curiosity.
“Color is the overpowering of black; white – the final victory over black.”
Most interesting to me were the children. They were happily playing and doing all of the things kids do when they haven’t a care in the world. Clearly for them, life on the water was nothing unusual at all.
“Victory is always bittersweet.”
Of course, for the entire community, boats are critically important. And we saw them everywhere we looked, in various states of repair.
“The tough challenges we encounter make us stronger, and wiser. With each victory we gain something of value; our character is strengthened.”
At the end of the day though, it was all about the people. No matter their age or position, they were smiling and happy – welcoming us at every turn.
“The greatest victory in life is to rise above the material things that we once valued most.”
Think about it; no TV, no IPOD/IPAD/IMAC, no radio, no internet and no newspapers, just a busy life on the water surrounded by family and friends. We left the experience feeling that these smiling people had achieved a personal victory over the challenges of their difficult lives and over the whims of nature and life on the sea. Who’s to say theirs is not a victory worthy of our admiration?