Sunday, July 12, 2015
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Waking up at five am and four bus rides and one boat ride later, we finally arrived on Cat Ba island. The second we stepped out of the bus, we got bombarded by men offering hotel rooms with crazy cheap rates. We ended up following a guy who had photos of the rooms as well, and after having checked out our hotel room we agreed on 9 dollars a night for a three person room with an amazing view. Quite a bargain I must say! After a quick lunch we decided to rent scooters for the rest of the day, to cruise around Cat Ba island. Never having driven a scooter before, I was quite hesitant at first. Stevie and Thea convinced me to rent one myself rather than sitting on the back of one of theirs, and I am so glad I did! No one crashed, everyone lived, and it was an amazing experience driving around on the empty roads of the island. We really got to see its beauty, we found an amazing lake with a small pier which we walked over - terrified of a plank breaking - but the view was just gorgeous.
There were two things we absolutely wanted to do in Ha Long Bay. The first was going on a boat trip to see the limestone karsts and isles, and secondly, go kayaking. When we woke up Saturday morning it was raining cats and dogs, however with our positive minds we were still very determined to go out to sea. On our own small private boat with driver we headed out to sail through the bay, still in the pouring rain. Freezing and getting soaked by the rain, hiding under a blanket, shivering and dreading to leave the blanket to go kayaking... But us being the optimists that we are, got into our bikinis, took a seat in the kayak and started paddling around. Our luck really did follow us from Sa Pa to Ha Long Bay, first having the perfect weather in Sa Pa and then the weather gods were kind enough to let us kayak with a little sunshine. The view was just amazing, kayaking around the karsts and finding a tiny hidden bay, mesmerizing.
We stayed the night in a bungalow in a small village called Viet Hai, on the other side of the island. With nothing much to do or see on this part of the island, and being exhausted from a long and tiring day we thought it might be best to call it a day and hit the hay.
On our last day we went for a morning hike through a jungle/forest, filled with spiders and crabs (and I think we were trespassing at some points). We then took a boat back to Cat Ba Town, however the non-English speaking boat driver dropped us of at Ben Beo harbour. No one at the harbour spoke a word of English, but one of the xe-om drivers assumed we needed to go to Cat Ba town. We agreed on 20.000 dong per bike. Squashed with three on a motorbike we made our way to Cat Ba town, where the driver then charged us 20.000 dong per person. Always so trustworthy, those xe-om drivers(!).With two hours left on Cat Ba island we decided to check out the supposedly beautiful white sandy beaches: Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2 and Cat Co 3. We stumbled across Cat Co 1, which was a trashed tiny beach and we gave up after that one.
After a quick lunch at a restaurant where we bumped into another volunteer from the house in Hanoi, we got onto our first bus of many, to get back to Hanoi after an amazing weekend out.