To the city of Hanoi
11.02.2008 - 13.02.2008 8 °C
Well from Jen's last entry, we headed out for a 2 night/ 3 day stay on Ha Long bay and Cat Ba Island. We rode on a bus for about 3 hours to the port of Hai Phong City. Along the way we stopped for a bathroom break about halfway out at a workshop for handicapped children. See Jen smiling.
It was a tourist stop as every tour bus to the bay stops there to encourage shopping. We bought 2 coffee's to go and they are served in plastic bags with a straw. Pretty cool as the garbage packs up to nothing. Starbucks could learn a thing or 2.
It was cold in hanoi and even colder on Halong Bay. We boarded a junk and Jen tried to sunbathe but with cloudcover and clothes, we decided to retire indoors. The food was awesome and we had a couple of Tiger beers with a guy from Germany and his 2 friends from Spain. We enjoyed their company then we got off the boat to explore some exciting caves for about an hour before getting an opportunity to do some sea kayaking around the rocky islands. That was awesome to get out and do some activity and warm up! After the paddle, supper was served on the boad and Jen and I were given a beautiful stateroom in the all-teakwood vessel. Our room had a heater and private bathroom. We retired early as it was our first oppportunity to get warm in days.
The next day we got dropped off at Cat Ba Island National Park and rode some touring bikes and did a short trek through the jungle. It was really cool to walk and see some caves similar to those that the Vietnamese used to fight the USA in the war. Our guide also shared some knowledge of bombings in the bay and his village during the war to make it seem a bit more real. After the brief on land adventure, we got back on the boat. They served lunch on the little boat then took us to this small 100 foot wide stretch of beach to "look for monkeys sometime here" the guide said. We got off to the beach surrounded by over 100 foot high cliffs on 3 sides and water on the 4th. The boat pulled about 150 feet from shore where it sat for about 50 mins while they did dishes and Jen and I sat on a rock. The view was gorgeous.
And we were happy.
The weather was cool, breezy and cloudy when we saw the wild monkey.
We were surprised to see this kind of wildlife here.
After we quietly and awkwardly boarded the boat with our brave european companion, we headed to the main port to spend a night in a more luxurious hotel with heat. We spent the rest of the day and night in the room getting warm again and me getting over my stomach flu issues.
On the boat ride home, we saw more beautiful islands and got back to a much warmer Hanoi.
We returned to our hotel in Hanoi where we were told there were no other rooms so he was sending us some where else. 2 guys on motorbikes showed up, we threw on our big packs, small packs and grocery bags, jumped on the bag and they rode us through the busy, cramped, noisy, streets of Hanoi like a couple of locals. It was fun and the hotel was actually in a better location than the last. We also paid 3$ more for heat. Totally worth it.