Even downpours can't dampen spirits on Red River boat tour
|Red River cruise: Tourists enjoy posing for a group photo aboard the boat. The weekend tour takes tourists to the Bat Trang ceramic traditional village. Photo Kiribane
by Minh Huong
Though rain bucketed down last Saturday, the dry board and smiling faces of those joining the cruise made for a great start to our tour along the Hong (Red) River in Ha Noi.
Valentin Tino Rion, an intern from the German Embassy, joined myself and more than 20 others on the cruise.
The taxi driver who dropped at the cruise's dock had shaken his head in disbelief as I readied myself to jump through the tumultous downpour to board the ship. Why hadn't I chosen a better day, he asked. I told him I had done many tours but never when it was raining. No one could stop me from enjoying it.
The boat disembarked at 7.30am from the dock on Chuong Duong Do Street. We gathered comfortably around a table, laughing loudly as we joked about being trapped on a boat; past the point of no return.
|Artistic freedom: A young woman paints her self-made pottery item. — Photos kiribane.squarespace.com
Red River is the second largest river in Viet Nam after the Mekong. Through the rain it looked gently but vast. The young guide told us that the river descends from Yunnan, a mountainous region in southern China and a hub for economic activity in the north of Viet Nam.
After an hour, we reached Bat Trang pottery village, 10km from the downtown. According to legend, pottery production began in the village under the Ly dynasty in the 16th century after pottery makers travelled by boat up the Red River to the former capital of Thang Long, and discovered clay to make pottery. People settled on the land and established a new village.
The rain faded as we entered the village. Modern buildings outnumbered authentic structures of ancient villages, but we enjoyed meandering through narrow streets and alleyways left intact.
|Serious ceramics: A group of foreign tourists visit the ceramic market in Bat Trang Village. Visiting the traditional market is one of the major activities of the Red River boat tour. — VNA/VNS Photo Bui Tuong
We were welcomed into a house with unfinished pottery works; where they offered a self-made pottery service for tourists. This looked incredibly fun, but unfortunately we didn't have time.
We admired the many different types and designs of goods; including hanging dishes, vases, toy animals and replicas of statues made using sophisticated techniques and technology.
The local art and craft of pottery was astonishing and I admired the incredible talent of the village artists. Whilst I had intended to shop, I only bought a small cup with my favorite cartoon image.
After spending hours in the village, we returned to the cruise to enjoy lunch.
We were spoilt with chicken, squid, beef, rice and beer – all made for a delicious meal.
The rain clearing, the wind blowing gently through our hair, and with a fresh cup of strong coffee in our hands, we realised what a special day it had been, touring along the Red River. — VNS