Cat Ba Island to Halong Bay to Hanoi

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Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay
June 13th 2010
Published: June 14th 2010
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I woke up at 5am as the AC turned off and it was getting warm in the room within a few minutes of the AC being off. About 10 minutes later the AC turned back on and I fell asleep again. Pete rolled over around 6am saying turn the AC back on and I hit the power button but nothing happened. Tried again and nothing, damn. On the junk boat we were told the AC only comes on at night and turns off in the morning so I thought maybe the hotel was trying to conserve electricity.

Breakfast was included in our package and was buffet style from 6:30-9am, we had to be in the lobby checked out by 8:30 to meet Tam, our guide and the van. Pete and I decided at 7am we would go eat breakfast since we were hot then come back up shower, pack and check out by 8:30. When we went to the hallway only one of the three elevators was working..hmm maybe there was a power outage. We were on the 11th floor and it took forever. We finally made it on and down to the 9th floor when I forgot our meal coupons. We got off the elevator walked up 2 floors then down 10 floors to the restaurant. Once we got to breakfast all the windows and doors were open to the outside and it was packed full of people and yes, you guessed it HOT and MUGGY. Tam, advised us there was a power outage on the whole island so the hotel was running on generators so that is why the AC went off and one 1 elevator was working.

When we returned to our room the water was working fine so we quickly got ready and headed to the lobby at 8:25, now two of the three elevators were working. Roxanne and Dycho’s room was next to ours and they walked out saying the water was off so they couldn’t shower and hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, but would just grab some fruit and baguettes.

Off in the van we were a few minutes late but not bad due to the power outage. We made it to the boat dock, and boarded the same boat as yesterday but with a new set of people that did the 2 day/1night tour.

Wow after being with this group of people for 2.5 hours we were glad we were on the night before. There was an older couple from Brisbane, two 20 something yr old guys from Canada, two 20 something yr old girls from England and 5 Vietnamese that didn’t speak English. The two English girls were in their bras and shorts when we boarded the boat really hung over and one of the Canadian guys was talking about drinking, skinny dipping and being up until 4:30am causing a ruckus. The 2 girls bought motorbikes the day before and were already having problems with them. They never had driven one before this trip and planned on traveling Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for 2 months on them. Good Luck girls, it sounded like a disaster but I wish them the best for their sake.

We got off the boat and had to wait in the heat for a few minutes to get our van, then our driver wanted no empty seats so he picked up 6 Vietnamese first to fit into 3 seats and we all were not happy he then got 3 guys from Canada for the 3 seats, not bad. But come on lets get back to Hanoi as it was another 3.5 hr drive back.

We arrived back in Hanoi around 4pm dropped everyone off at their hostels and got dropped off a block from the train station. It was a struggle to get them to drop us off there but they did it. We wanted to go to Sapa on the night train but didn’t have tickets. Pete managed to get 2 tickets in a soft sleeper with 4 beds for the 9:50pm train for 660,000 VND=$34.74 arriving in Lao Cai in the early morning.

We had time to kill now and really needed to get some flights to Laos and plan the next few days of our trip. We found a hotel across the street from the train station called New Moon with internet and a booking service. The manager spoke good English and actually lived in the LA area for a few years. He helped us find flights to Laos but it was more than we wanted to spend so we decided to stay in Vietnam the whole time.

We were able to book a hostel in Sapa for 2 nights for $5/person a night for a private bathroom and double bed, nice we can handle $20 total for 2 nights. Then we booked a flight from Hanoi to Hue as there isn’t much to do in between the two cities and it was only an hour flight instead of an overnight train or bus.

After getting our travel plans sorted out we ate dinner at the restaurant on the 9th floor. We could see the whole city and couldn’t believe being on the 9th floor it had such a great view. Hanoi is not tall but very dense as the streets are made for motorbikes, not really cars. I got pho, Vietnamese soup, for the 1st time on our trip and loved it, plus it cost less than $1.50USD. We sat in the restaurant using the slow internet until 9pm when we packed up and went back across the street to the train station. We were able to board the train when we got there even though it wasn’t scheduled to depart until 9:50pm.

We thought we would have our own room and took the 2 top bunks even though our tickets were for 1 top and 1 bottom. Three Vietnamese ladies came into the room and we thought what? But it seemed to be a mom, aunt and daughter so the teenage daughter and the mom shared a bed under Pete and the aunt got a bed of her own under me. The train departed on time but was the most unsmooth train ride we have experienced this year. Oh well, it was late and we were tired so we got some sleep, but no English on the announcements so I was worried we would miss our stop, but Pete said it was the last stop so it wouldn’t be hard to miss.

I forgot to mention our cabin mates didn’t speak any English so it was interesting using body language to communicate, but we are masters at this after our 10.5 months of being outside the USA.


14th June 2010

to Hanoi
You must have been cooking??? when we are out of electricity....we for get what to do!!!1 All of the heat and humidity must be CRAZY!!!! Is it hot like that year around??? maybe December would have been a better month to visit...

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