Cat Ba and the start of Vietnam
We arrived after an exhausting 4 hour flight into the Hanoi airport. It was easier to get around than I thought and before we knew it Anne and I were dropped off at the bus stop with the hardest task yet… to cross the street! I don’t know if any of you have ever been to a busy Asian country where stoplights don’t really mean anything if they even exist at all, but it’s crazy!! Cars going every which way and then the wrong way! I would have never believe if you told me I would be driving in this craziness by the end of 2 weeks, but I was.
Our first adventure was just walking around the crowded streets of Hanoi old town. It was jam packed with locals, tourists, street vendors, cars, motorbikes, and food vendors. We walked around the lake and around the streets for a bit and then got some pho ?. Wow! It was so good. I had been wondering what the pho thing was all about back in the states but had never gone to get any and this was the first time I had tried it. I am glad I saved myself for this moment, it was so good and what made it even better was that we were eating from the little blue stools on some random street corner from a women who spoke no English. I’m honestly not even sure what we ate?
Another amazing thing we tried was egg coffee. This coffee was a Vietnamese style coffee with an egg froth on top. It was almost like a coffee smoothly but warm. It was a dessert and one that I could get used to. Anne even loved it and she is not a huge fan of coffee! In the morning our journey of Cat Ba started. We had to take two busses and a boat to get there but it was well worth it. Cat Ba was the place we choose (not the typical Halong Bay like most tours) because of the kayaking, rock climbing, and deep water soloing. Anne and I are both a bit adventurous and when we got to Cat Ba the very first thing we did, even before we booked a hotel, was go to Asia outdoor to figure out the climbing in the area.
Over the next few days we kayaked in the bay under beautiful cliffs and caves and into lagoons. The sounds we heard from the birds and monkeys in the bay was incredible as was the fishing boats and villages that were all floating and filled with tons of fish. Some of the floating homes even had dogs and cats
We also deep water soloed for a day in the bay. For people who don’t know what that is, it is somewhat like rock climbing but without ropes and over water. So if you fall all you do is splash, and sometimes splash hard. We got up to at least 30 feet at some points before the jump off. There were some great hard routes but the crux for all the routes was letting go from the top. We had a great guide for our day that showed us everything and was super helpful.
We also rented motorbikes and climbing gear to ventured out onto the craig by ourselves, and with the help of yesterday’s guide and his group of friends. The bike rental was a whole adventure on its own! I had been on a bike two other times in my life. Once in India 10 years ago, and that ended badly. And once before I left with my brother in law teaching me how to drive a motorcycle. I was so nervous to get on and to drive around. There are no stop lights, no signals, no cops, no rules! There was only the horn! I realized quickly that the horn was used to make sure people around you knew you were there. When you passed, when you were making a turn, sometime maybe just for fun. After we got out of the city I felt much better about driving and started feeling more confident. It was a really fun day and so much fun to crush with people from all over the world.
( I may have been way to into climbing to get any photos)
The rest of our time on the bay was spent walking along the paths to the beaches. It was fun to see hundreds of Vietnamese tourists swimming at the beach which reminded me of a wave pool at sea world. A lot of them where in their matching swim clothes as well which was odd to see. There would be 2 -15 people with all the same print swim suit on, men and women. Something that would be so funny to see back in the states!
The last thing we did was spend a day taking a boat tour around the bay and kayaking again, hiking, visiting the market and going through caves with our friends darja and Simon who arrived a little later. We might have also done a little karaoke ?