How long to Halong (Cat Ba Island, Monkey Island)

Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
Trip End Mar 16, 2011

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Where I stayed
on a junk
Sunflower Hotel 1, Cat Ba Island

Flag of Vietnam  , Quảng Ninh,
Thursday, March 25, 2010

25 MARCH 2010 - We spent about 3 hrs on a minibus to get to Halong Bay.  The drivers in Vietnam are absolutely god damn f**en idiots on the road.  They spend most of the time on the wrong side of the road. The speeding isn't too bad but the overtaking is scary.  After a while I think we just had to stop looking and not sit at the front or back of the bus.  Troy noticed that I had to shut my eyes several times and tried to distract me by saying "lovely scenery Mary" while I could feel my heart beat racing.  Seriously it is scary when you see a big truck coming for you or a scooter and you think oh my god why do they overtake so much, they miss each other by only centimetres, its crazy.  I feel for the scooter riders they don't get much room on the road, its like the smaller you are the less respect you get on the road.  We arrived at the wharf at Halong Bay and there were millions of junks.  It was gorgeous.  We finally got on our junk and sailed off for our overnight cruise.  The weather wasn't great, very overcast but the views were still absolutely stunning, unbelievable it could be this beautiful.  The junk was great too, we went for a 'luxury cruise' because we heard that the cheaper cruises are crap and many people get disappointed going for the cheaper cruise so its worth paying a bit more for better junk, food and accommodation.  The luxury one was still very cheap so we thought why not.  

I don't think I can describe what the sailing was like through Halong Bay.  It was unbelievable, nothing beats it for sure.  I would of loved to stay on for a while just to relax and chill out and it was so peaceful compared to crazy Hanoi. 
We had lunch on the junk and then sailed to see a cave.  We walked around the cave and saw some interesting shapes in this cave, one that looked very much like a mans you know what, it was very erect.  We got some great scenic shots and then Troy went kayaking.  We then went back on board our junk and chilled out for a while and then had dinner.  Dinner was nice but so much food.  After that we chilled out even more and it looked great watching all the boats around us lit up at night.  It was beautiful. 

26 MARCH 2010 - After breakfast we sailed thru more beautiful karst mountains and then went to Cat Ba Island where we went to the Cat Ba National Park where we went hiking up the mountain to see the views of the valley. Mary gave up after a while and went back to the bus and walked around checking out the scenery and waiting for 2 hrs for the group to return. We then checked into our hotel for the night - Sunflower 1 Hotel in Cat Ba Island, absolutely god damn minus 10 star hotel.  Our bed was hard as a rock and I mean hard as. Troy describes the place as 'a shit hole'.  Wires hanging from ceiling and wall and it was musty and the water from the shower ran out on the floor from the hole in the bath tub and down another hole away from the shower, mmm hard to describe.  The lunch and dinner wasn't too bad but the breakfast was crap, cold fried eggs wasn't appealing and I don't know why when you want white tea you get it with condensed milk in it not fresh milk, yuck especially when you don't have sugar in your tea, I still cannot get used to it.  

We got back to Hanoi and we knew about it - the traffic.  At one stage we were in a traffic jam, us in one lane of many and then trucks heading right next to us towards us and then scooters down the middle sort of in a V shape, I was only centimetres away from the scooter rider and trucks very close to us too, I could have leaned out my window and kissed the guy on the scooter he was so close.  I wasnt quick enough to get a photo of it, it was insane.  This is where I think I had to shut my eyes again, crazy bastards!  Driving along the highway you see heaps of women selling big baguettes on the side of the road, who would want one with all the fumes.  

We got back to Hanoi guesthouse where it was like home again, where we only spent a few hours repacking our overnight bags and then got the overnight train to Sa Pa.




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