We spent our second and third nights in Halong Bay on Cat Ba island. Cat Ba is a fairly large island by Halong standards… complete with a town, several small villages, and, for two memorable nights, a couple of jolly American travelers.
Our first taste of Cat Ba was a bike ride on the far side of the island. Our boat dropped us off in a little inlet and we picked up bikes for the one hour ride to the tiny village of Viet Hai. The ride took us along the water, through a jungle, over the river and through the woods. It was also our first real taste of the humidity for which Vietnam is famous. Sticky work, but we love biking so it was a brilliant way to start our day!
After we biked back to the inlet we had lunch on the boat. Then…. we just sat there. For over an hour. Fog had rolled in whilst we were eating and visibility was zero. Honestly, it was as if the whole boat had been wrapped in cotton balls. Complete white out. This meant that we got a bit thrown off our schedule for the day and had to skip the visit to Monkey Island. I was NOT disappointed. An hour walk amongst reportedly aggressive monkeys was not actually something I was keen on. Adios, Monkey Island.
Once the fog had cleared enough to keep us from crashing into large rocks and other boats, we made our way to the other side of the island and Cat Ba town. We checked into our tour-guide-assigned-and-approved-hotel-for-great-giant-tourists, walked around the city, had a quick dinner and an early night. We’re so exotic and exciting!
Our second day on Cat Ba island will forever be known as The Day Andy Drove Us Around Vietnam on a Motobike! It was so exciting!! I’d never been on a motobike before so I was a bit nervous. But, there was no need for nerves! Andy drove it like he stole it!
We spent about an hour driving along the small coastal roads until we reached Hospital Cave. A huge natural cave that the Vietnamese used during the war, Hospital Cave boasts a full hospital with operating rooms, a cinema, a therapeutic swimming pool and a special secret meeting room for high ranking officials, government men and Dr. Evil… all hidden inside an innocuous looking mountain. Clever!
We puttered back to Cat Ba town under a bright blue sky and took the motobike further out the coast to a small beach. There we enjoyed a cold beer as a reward for an excellent day of not dying on a motobike.
The next morning all the great-giant-tourists-with-backpacks-and-sturdy-footwear were rounded up and we began the epic four hour boat ride and four hour bus ride to get back to Ha Noi. The clear weather continued for much of the drive back… but, the minute we crossed the Ha Noi city limits, the sky turned grey again. We’d left Halong Bay far behind…