Liz and I have spent a couple of wonderful days exploring Cat Ba Island to the south of Hanoi. Cat Ba’s main attraction is its proximity to Lan Ha Bay, but the island is also home to a number of pleasant beaches, as well as a large national park.
We took the night bus from Sapa (miserable), but then found breakfast on the waterfront (lovely).
Perfect weather for a beach day. Loungers cost 100,000 dong each ($4), a preposterous price here. We left partway through the day to go check into the hotel, get lunch, etc, but when I came back later while Liz took a nap I tried to reuse the same ticket. They found and kicked me out, so I just sat on the public beach and drank the 15,000 dong gas station beers I had stowed in my bag like the tightwad I am.
Cat Ba gets one of the few ocean sunsets in Vietnam.
We went for a nice seafood dinner, clams and stirfried veggies on the waterfront. Liz was fine, but the clams didn’t treat me right and I spent the rest of the evening getting rid of them. It’s not the first time I’ve eaten mollusks and then spent the night singing rainbows, so I think shellfish are a no for me going forward.
The next day we booked a day cruise of marvelous Lan Ha Bay. Unfortunately someone didn’t read the description fully, and we actually had to leave Cat Ba Island to find the boat. Oops.
Lan Ha Bay (and more famous Ha Long Bay to the north) are known for striking limestone mountains jutting up out of a perfectly still bay.
We stopped midway through for some kayaking and swimming, and I found an opportunity to dust off my lifeguard skills. One of the other guests wasn’t a strong swimmer and got panicked by the salt water, and I ended up helping him out a bit until someone tossed in a life ring.
There was a short cooking class on the boat. Fresh rolls again, huzzah!
So long Cat Ba!