Last day on Cát Bà, till next time Vietnam!

We had some time before our water taxi back to the main island, so we took a hike to a hidden cove behind the island some. A friendly local worker guided us to the trailhead and we walked through a lovely forest to get to it.

The flag marked the way.

There was a structure on the beach, which could have been some fisherman’s dwelling.

Mitsy points to an unoccupied cove, “We could live on that spot there” she says.

It’s not easy to see, but the hillside in the photo above was thick with dragonfly swarms.

Back in the area of the hotel, we wait at the dock and wave good bye to Cat Ong!

The light fishing boat was on when we passed by, it’s very bright even during the day.

We take a bus back to Hanoi, and wander around the night markets looking for gifts for our loved ones. The streets were busy with dancing, shopping, eating and just hanging out. It was awesome to see such a vibrant scene.

Back in Tokyo now, we take some time for some R&R, eating good food, hitting up our favorite food marts (7Eleven is bomb in Japan) and then checked out Disney Sea!

Cát Ông Island

We traveled to another nook of the Cat Ba area, this time a ‘private’ island. Having spent some time in the city, and dropping off some laundry, we took another water taxi to the island. We were greeted with party music and what seemed to be the manager of the operation.

Large light fishing vessel above. After settling into the room, we went for a little walk around the eastern part of the island.

We noticed a family of at least three goats on one of the small islands.

Half of the place was still under construction. Below, we spent a lot of time just lounging around on the beach.

We hung out on the balcony, and I got a few cocktails.

Before sunset, the bartender told me he was throwing a party for us all, he said there would be alcohol with a sparkle in his eye. I think the rest of the people staying there just wanted to hang out in their cottages, because the place was a ghost town haha.

The massive light in the horizon is one of those light fishing boats. Lights attract the small critters, and they attract small fish, small fish attract bigger fish. It’s a simple but effective mechanic.

Floating homestay back to Cát Bà Island

Excellent sunrise, and a very quiet morning. The water was still as a lake, although we did wake up in the night to a sudden increase in the ferocity of the wind which lasted an hour or two. These mountains must have some wind dampening effect.

The days start with a visit from a woman with some wares on her vending boat. The guys check out a few things and even buy a few things.

Breakfast was awesome, glass noodles, egg, fried onions and peanuts with some greens.

As the woman paddles away, our host Chuck paddles to a fishing boat just a stonesthrow away to see what the catch was.

We take a look at the net to see what fishies our hosts already have caught.

In the morning, a boat taxi picks us up as well as Chuck’s friends. We head back to Ben Beo harbor and walk to the main part of Cat Ba island.

The floating grocery store above.

Also, time to let Mitsy to try the famous Vietnamese egg coffee.

Night on the Inner X Floating Homestay, Lan Ha bay, Cat Ba

The view from inside our little home for the night was great, we spent so much time just gazing into the island mountains. Below is our host for the night, Chuck. The man spoke better English than some of my coworkers, and was a joy to talk to.

Mitsy washes her hands :P

Chuck was a very good chef, here he is making us french fries, twice fried for extra delicious crunchiness.

Plenty of stars out. There were faint sounds of conversation, and generators in the distance. It was very quiet though. Below, Chuck fishes out our dinner from the water and then prepares it for a big hot pot.

Below are some of the inside parts of the squid, he wouldn’t tell me what they were before I tried it, I later found it’s all the reproductive organs and liver. Interesting texture but it tasted good.

One of Chuck’s friends tried to eat the meat around the beak of the cuttlefish, it was a little tough.

It was an awesome night hanging out with these fellas, drinking Chuck’s dad’s rice wine, saying the Vietnamese version of cheers every time we took a sip (sounded like zo!).

Hanoi to Cát Bà island

Two nights before, I was browsing through Air B&B listings in Ha Long Bay because I was told once that this was an amazing place. I noticed a large island South of the area called Cát Bà, and found the most amazing looking experience. For the small price of 25$ a night, you could stay on somebody’s floating home amongst the scattered fishing villages in the chain of islands surrounding the main island. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and although getting there was a complete mystery, I had faith we’d figure it out. It ended up being one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Truly.

Along the roadside these placards were posted, North Korean and Vietnamese flags at the top.

The long stretches of mudflats made me think of the wasteland in Mad Max.

Our huge bus loaded onto a similar looking ferry for a small thirty minute ride to Cát Bà Island.

Thank god I only had to wiz.

Up to code?

The quiet road at Ben Beo harbor, the launchpad to our place for the night.

Friendly boat taxi driver took us to our stay for the night. I would recommend InnerX floating homestay to anybody looking for an amazing experience.

Once landing on our floating home, we immediately took the proprietor up on the opportunity to kayak all over, two solid hours of kayaking showed us an unforgettable world we never knew existed. Floating fishing villages all over, and coves that were reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean. This place was badass.

From the distance, I saw many abandoned vessels in this cove, I had to check it out.

We were returning to our floating pad for the night, the yellow building to the left. The gentle waters were amazing for kayaking, with almost no wind to speak of.

Adventure to North Vietnam, Hanoi

Mitsy and I take our honeymoon trip to the country where I had one of the most amazing experience just a few years ago. I always vowed to return to Vietnam, and since my newly minted wife was feeling the travel bug, we decided to go to Northern Vietnam, to spend a night in Hanoi and travel to the coast to see one of the most impressive natural wonders on the globe.

The city was very much like Ho Chi Minh City (old Saigon) and we spent our first day here walking around and putting on the miles. Our Air B&B for the night was excellent, with a view of Trúc Bạch Lake from the balcony.

Cute old guys holding hands above, and the nonstop hum of traffic around us at all times.

The smokey sunset was awesome.

Above is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the man that changed this country so much and was the leader behind the movement that finally nabbed this country’s independence away from the French.

This was an interesting moment, we had noticed a street closure where google had told us a recommended restaurant was located. We walked past the motorist barricades as allowed by the police, we were hungry so we didn’t mind walking into the unknown situation. When we realized the restaurant wasn’t going to work we walked further down the road to a large crowd of people. Being curious we stuck around realizing this was the path of the presidential convoy (I’m assuming it was Trump, given that the cars were decorated with US emblems and loaded with special forces). Below, you can see what I think was the presidents own vehicle, perhaps with Trump sitting inside. The crowd surprisingly cheered the convoy on, and being told later by a local, they were cheering for the peaceful resolution of Trump and Kim who were meeting for peace talks. I later discovered the talks didn’t really resolve much though.

Streets were amazingly free from scooters, for just a moment before the barricades were reopened.

Of course, shops took advantage of the commotion by selling shirts commemorating these peace talks haha…

Finally making it back to our neighborhood for the night.