From Hanoi we took a taxi, then the bus, then another bus, then a boat, then another bus and miraculously ended up where we wanted to be, which is Cat Ba Island. It’s a beautiful sub-tropical island, with a national park containing endangered langur monkeys, sandy beaches and hundreds of limestone karsts jutting out in the surrounding sea – very picturesque. The island has only recently become touristy and the islanders have obviously now decided to put all their eggs into the tourism basket, as we saw plenty of development going on on the bus round the island. It’s still mainly a destination for domestic Vietnamese tourists, so its high season is June – August (I guess the school holidays are the same as the UK). So it’s relatively quiet at the moment and the other tourists are largely Westerners. With the beach, the strip of hotels and restaurants, and all the other Westerners; this feels more like “holiday” and less like “travelling”.
Very sharp rocks!
We opted to go kayaking in the afternoon. Some people on the trip were doing deep water solo climbing, which is where you climb up without ropes and then just jump into the sea when you’re high enough. The tourists climbed up a few metres above the water, but the Vietnamese guide went a bit higher (without ropes and barefoot).
On our kayaking trip we saw that there were little bungalows on some of the small islands. When we got back to Cat Ba we made enquiries and booked to stay in one of the bungalows on Nam Cat Island, which was absolutely idyllic and we spent our days as follows; breakfast, swim, hammock, kayak, lunch, hammock, nap, kayak, swim, dinner, drinks, bed. This is what Mr Beet wanted our trip to be like and he’s had to wait for 8 weeks of me dragging him around cities and up mountains before he finally got some hammock action, but it was worth the wait.
Getting to and from Nam Cat involved a first for me; riding on the back of a moped, which was not so bad. Fitting me and Mr Beet plus driver on a single moped on the way was a bit more precarious.
All our photos from Cat Ba and Nam Cat and on Mr Beet’s flickr page.