Home > Vietnam > Cat Ba Island and the green lagoons

Cat Ba Island and the green lagoons

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

As usual, we parted company with the tour and stayed behind on the island, taking some rickety old bikes (with Theo tied to an little bike seat with an old bike inner tube) up into the national park to stay in a small village in the valley. Basic was the name of the game, but once the cockroaches had been eliminated, the rustic charm came through.

 

 

the remote valley where we stayed over, complete with water buffalo

Whilst in the breeze block bungalows we met a very nice German/Persian couple. Rafael was a technical boffin for Canon, so whilst we trudged up to the top of the tallest mountain in the area, I gained a huge amount of knowledge on Canon lenses/cameras/techniques etc – thank you Rafael. The walk was a whole load of fun, with wet clay mud, steep slopes and rocky traverses, we clambered up until we were rewarded with beautiful views over Halong Bay. Whilst it was a bit misty (wrong time of the year), it made for a great walk and definitely earnt a few beers for when we returned.

View from the summit of Cat Ba over Halong Bay

 

The valley also gave us the best sense of village life in Vietnam. Clearly not many tourists come here, and being a remote island meant that we had a pretty authentic glimpse into a past life, water buffalo still ploughing the rice fields, ladies in their traditional hats planting out the seedlings and generally everyone working the land. We also had the pleasure of the communist local radio blaring through the loudspeakers on every corner, apparently giving out information on the weather, the price of rice and fish and what jobs needed to be done around the village. It was like a flashback behind the iron curtain in 1978.

Whilst we wished we had booked  the village idyll for longer, we already had our trip sorted to take us out into some remote lagoons with a few kayaks, so with a quick bike ride to the pier we were on our boat into the Bay.

 

Heading for the caves

Grannie powering out of the last series of caves into the calm of the final lagoon

deep in the caves - notice who is doing all the work!

loving the paddling

Before we were allowed to kayak, the poor westerners obviously needed feeding up, and in true style we had a seafood feast, oysters, squid, cuttlefish, prawns and a big grilled fish. For most of us the oysters were a bit like hard work, but we made sure we were polite and made a valiant effort; as far as the squid, luckily we had Kai the garbage bin to hoover them up together with the tentacles, proclaiming that the tentacles were definitely the best bit.

YUM YUM - not sure whether it was a squid, octupus or bird embryo - but it all went down OK. Elena was not so keen!!!

 

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