By the end of our first day in Hanoi, we’d already decided to head away from the city. The water, that will be our first destination. CatBa island. Ha Long Bay.
There’s many tourist outfits in Hanoi (around the Old Town neighbourhood) who provide single/multi day trips to the famed HaLong Bay and trout their beautiful boat trips and such, but we had read about CatBa Island as being an alternative option. Anna had looked up descriptions, and googled a bus company that would do a combined bus-boat-shuttle trip, but when we asked the hostel desk about getting to that bus, they gave us an impression that they wanted us to go through a taxi. In the first of what was soon to be a routine act of defiance, we put on our backpacks and headed towards Luong Yen bus station in hopes of seeking our own way there.
About 10 minutes of walking later, we stopped at a intersection to try and catch a local bus to the (intercity) station. Our luck had made us stop in front of a government conducted tourist booth, and the employee there was quite interested in talking to us. He also told us that the Luong Yen station is currently closed for repairs. Not sure where the CatBa transport we were trying to catch ran from currently. Yikes. We could go to another bus station (Gia Lâm station) to catch a bus to HaiPhong, then go to the CatBa ferry from there. As he was saying this, a local bus headed to Gia Lâm showed up and before we knew it, we were on it, miming and mimicking our destination to the bus employee. Everyone on the bus was amused.
Haiphong city-negotiated with some old men to take us on their “motobike” to the ferry station, rode on the back of bikes across the city -the first of many such rides, got tickets for the ferry, got put on a bus that waited until another bunch of foreigners from Hanoi showed up, it took us to the ferry, and a 40 min ride later, we reached CatBa island. From the ferry drop-off, we got into another 30 minute ride that took us to the actual CatBa town. “Where are you staying?” a local, impromptu guide asked us. “Mr.Zoom” said Anna (she had done her research here; no need for me to doubt her choices). Thus, we ended up checking into Mr.Zoom’s Climbing Backpacker’s Hostel.
Swimming, Kayaking, Deep Water Solo-ing.
More details to come.