Dock of the Bay
Cat Ba Travel Blog› entry 18 of 19 › view all entries
Halong Bay is one of those places that you see in travel magazines or in glossy calenders and was on our "must do" list for Vietnam. Our start from Hanoi could have been better as we leave in heavy rain and the bus to Halong City is packed full mainly with retired Germans complaining loudly about the poor tour organisation.
Things improved significantly once we reach the harbour and are split into separate groups depending on our tour (day trip, 1 night or 2 nights). We end up in a group of six with two other couples and are shown to our boat. Probably more by luck than anything else we end up on a boat that is quite luxurious. There is space for 16 and only 6 of us aboard, the dining room is conmfortable, cabins well appointed with a/c and private facilities and the sun-deck spacious.
Our 1st stop is a cave. I must admit that I am a bit of a fan of caves and always try to visit a cave whenever there is one in the vicinity so I have seen a few but was not prepared for just how good this was going to be. There are 3 chambers, the 1st is good but the star is the 3rd chamber which is huge. Our guide told us that these caves were not discovered until quite recently, which seems incredible given their size. For the rest of the afternoon we kayak around the small islands, go swimming and relax on the boat prior to dinner.
Our next 2 nights are on Cat Ba island. We are dropped off at the north end of the island and driven to the National Park in the centre of the island. Here some of the group go mountain biking while we hike to the top of a nearby hill. The path is steep and muddy after the recent rain but the view from the top is worth it.
In the afternoon we relax on Monkey Island, which as well as monkeys has a great sandy beach. In my rush to swim ashore I jump from the boat and find that the water is not as deep as I thought and hit the bottom hard and cut my foot on a rock.
Back in Cat Ba the sunset is one of the best we have seen for a while. Our dinner in the hotel is very entertaining as there is a Chinese group staying at the hotel who have been on the whisky at dinner and have a loud singing competition between their two tables.
We have another day and night in Cat Ba and head for the local beach. My expectations are low based on the LP write up but it is actually very good and a good quiet place to spend the day and only 15 minutes walk from town. We spend the day doing very little and are lucky that the weather is superb.
In the evening we sit on the hotel balcony overlooking the Cat Ba dock (of Halong Bay!) and watch the sun go down.