HA LONG BAY, Vietnam — As Vietnam makes good on its selection as one of the world’s ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature,’ the authorities in the country’s premier tourist destination issued a whitewash decree in preparation for the summer cruising season: All tourist boats in the bay must be painted white.
And all of those boats have complied, at least those now ferrying tourists among the limestone-studded karsts. To wit, the Life Resorts: The resort management group launched a fleet of 22 traditional junks in 2011. The boats debuted in traditional colors, with brown wooden hulls and red-ribbed sails. In anticipation of the decree, the boats were hauled out of the water and painted white.
Nearly all of the bay’s junks found themselves in similar straits, swapping traditional wooden facades for the ordained color. While most boat owners might find cause for grumbling, some of the vessels had less cause for complaint, at least from a cost standpoint. Since 2003, Emeraude Classic Cruises has plied the jade-green waters in white, except for its hull, which is now white.