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Published: February 1st 2018
It took us about three hours to get to Cat Ba, an island near Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site. The weather was still grey and cold! We found a nice hotel, the Golden Holiday/An An for about £5 a night with very nice staff and generous breakfast included. We walked around Cat Ba town, where there is not much to do nor to see apart from hotels and restaurants. On the next day, we took a scooter to tour around the island. It was very cold and we added gloves to our next shopping list... We stopped at Cat Ba National Park. We didn't have many expectations but we didn't think we would have to sign up for a 2 hours hike. It was already midday, and we were just planning on a walk in the park! After half an hour walk, including 15 minutes of walking up stairs, and seeing nothing except from trees, grumpy me decided that I wasn't really interested in walking another hour and a half to see more trees. I offered to go back down and wait for Shaun at a cafe but he admitted he wasn't very impressed either so we decided
Our next stop was a place a tourist we met in Laos had recommended us: the "green ladder".
We didn't really know what to expect. It turned out to be a much higher ladder than I would have thought - and it wasn't a tourist attraction per say (although a few tourists seem to go). The ladder went up to a hill with an antenna and we assumed the ladder was only meant to be used by staff who came to maintain it.
We don't know how high the ladder is - halfway through the climb, we realised that the ladder was much higher than expected as half of it was hidden from view from the ground. It was a very scary experience, considering both Shaun and I aren't big fans of heights. Once we got up there, Shaun was disappointed to see that the only thing there was was the antenna - and a beautiful view of the bay and the fascinating rock formations. We took pictures and videos, as well as deep breaths, before starting the descent. Once we were back on the ground, we had shaky legs!
We hopped back on the scooter, stopped for
a Vietnamese coffee and came back to the hotel.
We had a relaxing day on the next day. For lunch, at the "restaurant", Shaun never got his French fries. In the evening, we got a worse experience: we went to a restaurant that did 2 for 1 on cocktails and pizzas. When we sat down, the couple next to us were telling the waiter that they asked for a "herbivore" (vegetarian) pizza and got a "carnivore" one with lots of meat. We ordered pizzas with meat but no mushrooms. Shaun got a vegetarian pizza... A waiter brought us a beer that a couple on another table had ordered. Then, they brought us a margarita while we had ordered a Mai Tai and a Mango Daiquiri. When we were about to leave, we heard two ladies complaining they got a different pizza which wasn't what they ordered!! The staff started arguing. This was such a disaster and we laughed pretty hard!
We wanted to do a boat tour to see Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay so we walked around town, comparing itineraries and prices. All of the tours included kayaking and swimming! We chose the tour proposed by the
company we had used to come to Cat Ba - Daiichi. The tour was about £8. The boat was very nice, with a little garden-like deck with sinners and chairs... I could see myself enjoying the views in a swimsuit on the deck! But it was very cold and windy and we had to do jumping jacks to keep warm! After a while, it was kayaking time. I hadn't been really interested in kayaking in the cold in the first place but I definitely wasn't then and I didn't want to force myself as I knew I wouldn't enjoy the experience. We had met a nice older French man on the boat and Shaun went kayaking with him. In the end, Shaun was on his own in a two persons kayak. We had been told there would be 1.30 hour of kayaking in caves, it ended up being 40 minutes of kayaking around. Everyone came back wet and freezing and I didn't regret not going!
We had an amazing lunch with a whole fish, noodles, rice, fried spring rolls and plenty of other things that we shared with the French man, Bertrand, and two Vietnamese ladies. We then went to Monkey Island where we climbed up a hill and had a good view of Lan Ha Bay and had a coffee with Bertrand. When we came back on the boat, we had a rice and mussel soup and a glass of wine. We paid less than £8 per person for this trip and it definitely was more than worth it!
We came back at about 4pm. In the evening, we had dinner and played dice with Bertrand.
Tomorrow, we are leaving for Hanoi from where we will fly further south, to Da Nang.
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