We left Hanoi at 8am for a three day / two night boat trip to Halong Bay spending one night on the boat and one night in a hotel on Cat Ba Island. The trip was great, we had a lovely room on board and the food was great. The weather was about 23/24 degree; the sun didn’t appear too often so we were mostly wrapped up. The boat cruised the 1969 karst limestone formations jutting out of the sea – legend has it a dragon running to the coast flailing it’s tail created it.
Our first stop was a tour around a large cave, then a spot of kayaking round some small islands, we visited a nice beach on one of the small islands and hiked up a 400 step trek to the viewpoint. Back on board before dinner that night we did a cooking lesson on how to make spring rolls and we each got to roll our own. Patrick was highly recommended by the tour guide for his good technique, I’ve a nice video of it to remind him. We had a nice dinner of seafood. Later that evening the boat crew entertained the tourists with toothpick puzzles, there was squid fishing off the side of the boat under a powerful lamp but no luck, then the karaoke started but only the bar man participated with a Vietnamese song and a Britney Spears song, funny!
The next morning we were up early to visit a pearl farm. It was interesting to learn how they implant seeds to create pearls. After, we cruised on to Cat Ba Island stopping first at a tiny village called Viet Hat and with a population of 300 people. We cycled mountain bikes through the village. The land is very green, similar to Ireland. We saw water buffalo, cows, goats and everybody owns a dog or 2. The guide explained how they eat dog but not their pets so these were safe. He said he couldn’t understand westerners problem about the subject. The houses were small and looked like shacks on the outside but through open doors you could spot fancy TVs and big couches. Rice fields were the main crops.
Back on the boat we cruised through the floating villages onto Cat Ba town and checked into Sunflower hotel. It’s a tourist destination popular with the Vietnamese and Chinese and has three gorgeous beaches; the town itself is undergoing huge development with brand new hotels towering everywhere. There was a local festival on that night with entertainment shipped in especially, the whole town seemed to be out. We went to Rose bar for drinks after dinner.
Next morning, we were collected early and brought by small boat back to the lemon cruise to take us on our trip back to Halong bay and then onto Hanoi by bus. A boat at the pier was unloading and we spotted a man strapping on a washing machine onto the back of his scooter and driving off into the island. Funny the local transport methods.
We have a night bus booked to Hue at 6pm that evening. The bus was pretty cramped, the seats were small, Paddy didn’t fit too well as he is tall. I gave him my neck pillow as I felt sorry for him. We slept ok that night.