-Written by James
Just a 30 minute ferry ride away from the industrial harbor town of Hai Phong is a quiet island called Cat Ba. It is the gateway to Ha Long Bay. The area is really stunning. Massive limestone cliffs and spires jut out of the sea for miles. We were really eager to explore it!
Naturally, we couldn’t just leave our trusty motorbike on the mainland, so we drove it up onto the ferry and explored Cat Ba Island by road on our first day. The Island itself bears similarities to The Ho Chi Minh Trail in its geology, but the people here fish rather than grow rice and raise animals.
It was time to get excited about the cruise we were going to take! The tour would last two days, allowing us to sleep on the boat in a private room. Food and kayaks are included in the price, something like 150 USD per person. Not bad!
So, many of the Vietnamese people in this area live in what they call “floating villages”, which are exactly what they sound like! Families will live on the water and fish, farm clams, etc. Some of them rent out kayaks, and double as general stores. If they run out of supplies, they just take their little longtail boats to the main island and stock up.
We had a great time on our little cruise and met some other travelers from Norway, Australia, Hong Kong, and the UK. It was nice to get out on the water and take it all in. This has been one of my favorite legs of the trip so far, because we didn’t have to worry about feeding ourselves, unpacking our bags, or entertaining ourselves. It was all inclusive!
Like all good times, it went by too quickly. We said goodbye to our new friends and got set to head back to the mainland. Ha Long Bay was awesome, but our Vietnamese visas were set to expire soon ans we had a motorbike to sell. Off to Hanoi!