This is one of my favourite photos from my South East Asia travels. Its the story behind it that makes it so special to me. This photo was taken in Halong Bay, Vietnam. I was on an overnight cruise of the bay. Like many of the boats in that area to eat or drink anything was very overpriced compared to onshore and you were not allowed to drink anything that wasn’t purchased at the bar onboard the boat.
I was in my room on the boat getting ready with my friend to go upstairs for dinner when we hear someone outside our window. We look out to see a woman in a small rowing boat filled with biscuits, chips, soft drinks, beers, even bottles of vodka. She was rowing around to the boats anchored in the bay for the night and selling what she had to the passengers on the sly. Needless to say, everything she was selling was much cheaper than what they were offering on board.
I remember giggling with my friend as we decided what we wanted to buy and the woman giggling back at us as she told us to keep our voices down. We end up purchasing four beers and with a smile and a nod she rowed off in pursuit of her next sale.
It was such a small encounter that left a big impression on me. I am quite the rule follower usually but this just felt a little bit exhilirating to be secretly smuggling cheap food and drink on the boat. It felt good because I felt like the money I gave her was going directly to her. I could be wrong, and if it was a child it would definitley have felt wrong to me. However, what was most memorable to me was the cheekiness of it all and feeling as if I had a genuine connection with the woman on the boat as she laughed at us. I’ll always remember this woman and the laugh we had together.