A ferry to Cat Ba

I took these pictures on the way back from Cat Ba to Hanoi last week. Even though the actual distance is just 150km, the journey is rather adventurous (or tedious, depending how impatient you are) and takes about 3-4 hours: First by bus, then by boat or ferry, finally by another shuttle. I felt thrown back 10 years to my own backpacking times, as there were dozens of young and excited Europeans on every step on the way. (As it started as a business trip for us, we stood out with our trolleys and due to the fact that our destination was a propel hotel instead of “Woodstock Camp”.)

This small harbor was the transfer site on Cat Ba. It’s ultra functional and doesn’t fit at all to the either rackety or pristine vibe on the rest of the island. On first sight it’s rather boring and definitely not nice. Infrastructure.

Photography is a nice way to step out of the skin of a tourist (mostly concerned with the aesthetics of a place) into a more curious mindset that for me is usually rather anthropological: What are people doing? What are the habits and practices they built while working here day in day out? What kind of “special” places are hidden here, the tree that protects from the sun, the bench that promises a small break from the hustle? Or – much simpler, and the object of these photos: How are tourists and workers using the place together for what all this is actually about: getting on and off of a ferry, looking forward to a few days of vacation, or being a bit down considering the next hours will be spent on highways and motorway stations.