Saturday, Feb. 13th (Cat Ba Island Day 4)

  • Our plan was to return to Hanoi today and Dries’s plan was to take a ferry through Halong Bay and then continue North.
  • We were sad to part ways but had a good run together.
  • We awoke expecting to find Dries long gone but when we sat down to breakfast he was still there talking about the new plan for a full day of kayaking.
  • Hanoi is an incredible city but it has nothing on the natural beauty of Cat Ba Island so we readily agreed.
  • We all had an omelette breakfast at our hostel then Dries made a trip to the market to stock up on food for the day.
  • We walked to Ben Beo Harbour and rented a double kayak for me and Cory (150K VND) and a single kayak for Dries (100K VND).
  • The first part of our journey took us through the narrow water alleys of the fishing villages that have built up in between the limestone mountain islands. Anywhere that we got too close to the walkways, guard dogs would rush to the edge of the wooden planks barking and snarling in a fury. The first time that it happened we were convinced that the dog was going to take a flying leap into the kayak.
  • Otherwise it was a very cool view into life lived on the water. We passed families making baskets, cleaning their boats, and eating on their hut floors. The most striking vessels were the giant squid boats that had hundreds of lamps hanging from their masts like some perverse chandelier.
  • The next 3 hours were spent exploring the beautiful islands of Lan Ha Bay, finding our own path through the islands and into the hundreds of deserted inlets with tranquil untouched coves.
  • We looped back towards Ben Beo Harbour and stopped on an empty beach to cook up a late lunch.
  • We gathered wood and before long Dries was cooking up veggies, noodles, and eggs in his frying pan; an eclectic feast worthy of the adventurous day.
  • Unfortunately (though over dinner we would revise it to “fortunately”) we mistimed the trip home and the sun dipped below the horizon while we were still eating.
  • Luckily we made it to a familiar reference point before it turned pitch black and we were able to navigate the floating village by moonlight and the occasional lamplight shining through the windows of a hut.
  • We returned the kayaks and walked back to our hostel where we were rewarded with a hot shower and clean clothes.
  • We all sat down to dinner in the hostel lobby (leftover dishes from a peckish tour group) then had a celebratory Tiger beer and banana chocolate pancake for dessert.
  • Finally we returned to the hostel for some rest after a full day of activity in the sun.

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