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Published: April 9th 2010
Day 130: Tuesday, April 6th, 2010.
Halong Bay to Cat Ba, Vietnam.
Intrepid notes continued: "On day 12 we arrive at the beautiful and relaxing Cat Ba Island for one night. On Cat Ba Island we stay in a basic one-star hotel. There are options to trek in the national park, spend time on the beaches, kayak the warm waters, check out the local markets or watch the harbour activity. The lovely foreshore is a great place to sip an evening beer and watch the sunset. Upon arrival at our guesthouse we will take a short orientation walk, your leader will point out the best options for internet, cafes, restaurants and which way to the beach."
The weather is much clearer (still foggy but not oppressively so) and, liter aside, it was a beautiful morning. I did another P.O.N. here, she would have loved it. We dock around 9 am and find a mini van that is waiting for us that drives us the hour to Cat Ba. We drop off our bags at the Hoang Ngoc Hotel and 15 minutes later we're back in the lobby. We all vote to do some exploring before rest/lunch and we all 4 agree
on a driving tour of the area that will show us the highlights and only last 3 hours.
First up is the Hang Quan Y Hospital Cave
. This was a cave that the Vietcong turned into a hospital during the War. It's very impressive- they basically have a 3 story building inside a cave. Complete with a small pool and a theater room. They also have a water tank at the bottom of a shaft so if you're on the 3rd floor and need to get down to the 2nd floor quickly, you jump into the shaft, land in the water and get out right by an exit door. Pretty smart. We then head over to the Cat Ba National Park
which I remembered passing on the way into town and not finding very impressive looking. Our very brief tour confirmed my first look. We walked down a long road (flanked by houses for the first 1/3) and we get to a set of stone stairs. Everyone coming down those stone stairs is covered in mud and one couple even looks at us and mutters "have fun". It seems it's a bit of a hike, 1.5 hours one way, to get to the top of the
hill/mountain and you're tramping in mud the whole time. No thank you. Luckily the rest of the group voted the same so we just turned around, walked down the road and left.
We stop by a nearby temple whose name I can't find but it was set up to worship/honor women since the name "Cat Ba" means "Women's Island". Right across the street was an oyster farm so got some cool shots of that. After that was a very small village where you could do rock climbing (called "The Hive"). We took a walk around, saw some pretty scenery and more water buffalo, and got back in the van.
We got back to the hotel and had some lunch in the lobby. I had some Sweet and Sour Chicken that, I swear, tasted like Spicy Buffalo Wings. A great reminder of America, but I don't like spicy and went thru 6 napkins (or serviettes as the Aussies call 'em) blowing my nose. We then had an included orientation walk of the town of Cat Ba with Ling but myself and Dick were walked/toursited out and crashed in our rooms. Rita and Judy said that they were shown the
local beaches and tried, unsuccessfully, to find a bank. That was about it. So, I didn't miss much.
Dinner that night was at... the Green Mango! There was a lesser scale one about 5 buildings from our hotel and we settled in for dinner. I got the lasagna (it was okay) and I think the others enjoyed their Western meals as well. I got to know Dick and Judy some more as well as Ling. They're all fun people. Now if our accommodations and transportation would only get better I could have hope in my heart again.
Tot: 2.635s; Tpl: 0.06s; cc: 18; qc: 79; dbt: 0.0599s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.5mb