Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island
Halong City, Vietnam
From Hanoi we headed to the coast to take an overnight cruise on the “Phuong Dong 06″ through Halong Bay, an area home to over 1600 uninhabited limestone islands. We set sail with a dozen other people and four crew members, leaving a pier full of wooden tourists ships and were alone at sea within a half hour.
The ride was very relaxing – Sarah and I read and enjoyed the scenery while others relaxed on the deck.
Karst islands surrounded us in every direction.
We docked to visit the Dau Go Cave. While not as big as Mammoth and lacking bats like Mulu, Dau Go was illuminated with colorful lights highlighting the stalactites and stalagmites. The most impressive section was a beam of natural light angled down from an opening at the top of the cave.
After walking through we sailed for another few hours before anchoring for the night. A bunch of us jumped out to swim in the warm and salty water. Sarah remained safely on deck while I swam around (although I didn’t get the courage to jump off the top of the ship).
While we were swimming, one local entrepreneur rowed up besides us to hawk food, alcohol, and cigarettes.
After drying off, we watched the sunset on the top of the boat.
Dinner was cooked fresh and served in the boat’s dining room.
Our plans (and everyone else’s) to wake up the following morning for sunrise didn’t materialize but we figured it wouldn’t have been much different than sunset. Sarah and I and two other people – one French woman our age, and a 22 year old Japanese medical student – left the boat that morning to spend a day visiting Cat Ba Island. We first visited Cat Ba National Park, unfortunately at the same time that several busses full of Chinese tourists pulled up. The trail was way too crowded and we reached the top of the mountain only to have to wait in line to return.
But after checking into our hotel in Catba, the four of us had a great time discussing our travels and vastly different cultures before returning to Hanoi the following day.