June 2-3rd Cat Ba Island/Halong Bay, Vietnam

by - June 05, 2019

June 2nd
The bus picked us up from our hostel around 8 a.m.  It was a cluster from the beginning.  First someone working at the hostel walked us to the end of the street only to realize we didn't need a taxi, but instead that we booked a tour through their company.  Then a random man came down the alley and told us to follow him.  We walked to the main road and got onto a tiny bus.  Bart's long legs were not meant for this bus.  It took a couple hours to get to the ferry where we were corralled off the bus, down the road, and finally onto a ferry.  Then we were put onto another bus that took us to a small town on the southern corner of Cat Ba Island.  We checked into our hotel and then went to Yummy restaurant for lunch.  Bart enjoyed some clams in a lemongrass and chili broth and I tried the Vietnamese style pad Thai.  We rented a motorbike and went into Cat Ba National Park.  We did the 2 hour hike up to the top.  It was a sweaty hike.  Then we took the motorbike down a random trail to another small hike.  We saw locals picking rice by hand and many goats along the way.  It was a really beautiful park.  We went to a different Yummy Restaurant for dinner.  I discovered my new favorite thing-coconut milkshakes.  We enjoyed the sunset on a balcony of the hotel.  We were lulled to sleep by some loud music along with someone singing karaoke.

June 3rd
We met at 8 a.m. at the Full Moon Hostel to head out to Halong Bay.  We were taken by car to the ferry.  There was four of us including two girls from the Netherlands.  One of them was recovering from dengue fever.  They gave us tickets and herded us onto the ferry.  It was packed...full of local tourists...and children.  They took us along a floating fishing village, which was pretty cool to see.  The scenery in general was amazing.  I have to mention guy who was running the show because he plays a big part in how bad this day gets.  First he runs around and demands everyone give back their tickets, which makes no sense.  Then he walks around and basically crushes everyone's dreams.  One couple thought they were going to some bat cave, which we weren't.  Another girl thought she was going to be fishing and cooking the catch of the day for lunch, which she woulnd't be.  And we thought we would be snorkeling, which we would not be.  After all that settles we arrived at the kayaking area.  We were gathered and given a huge speech about not swimming and about the areas we were allowed to go.  One guy got yelled at for not wearing his life jacket(on the dock).  We all couldn't stop laughing because this guy was so serious about such ridiculous things.  There was a kid crying because they wouldn't let him go kayaking because he was not behaving.  Did I mention here were about 5 other boats here unloading their passengers to kayak at the same time?  We all put the wet smelly life jackets on and got into our kayaks.  Everyone was ramming into each other trying to get away from the crowd.  We strayed off into a bay to the left.  The water was filled with garbage.  We did get up close with some jellyfish.  Apparently the locals eat them.  Once we got back into the boat they served lunch.  It wasn't very good.  I bought some beers from a different boat since they were three times cheaper.  Our guy wasn't happy about it.  He told me I needed to buy beer from their boat.  After I explained to him that it is much cheaper there, he lowered the price.  What a scam.  After way too long we finally got back on the water.  We went to the swimming area.  Some people jumped off the boat.  We opted out since we could see the jellyfish the size of basketballs next to the boat.  It was no surprise that someone got stung.  Then we went to monkey island where we would be hiking with monkeys.  We saw no monkeys.  The hike was a bit treacherous.  The view was nice up top.  Then we went swimming and relaxed.  We got back to town around 5 p.m.  We relaxed and then had dinner.

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