A Cat Ba Island experience

Trip Start Feb 16, 2010
Trip End Mar 09, 2010

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Woke up to the gentle rumbling and vibrating of the boat generator. It was so nice if I could snooze on further. had breakfast and was glad later that I ate alot for what was going to come.
The junk boat headed back to Cat Ba Island's jetty on the north where we swopped for a bus. Some of the guys headed back to Halong City as per their itinerary. Met more good folks with the same itinerary - Amy (spent 2 weeks volunteering at Mekong Delta and was finishing up her trip from south to north), Celeste (who is travelling Asia and Europe for the next 6 months) and Rachel & Stephen (backpacking the world).
We stopped at Cat Ba national Park and trekked up to the peak. Took the adventurous option and the trail was on largely rocky grounds and quite challenging. Got up to the peak to realise that the way down is one and the same route. It was crowded and the trail is not spacious. At the peak laid a rusty filmsy steel viewing platform accessible by equally rusty steel stairs. Views at the top were fantastic. A canadian bloke even made his way up the roof - he probably paid alot for insurance.
The way down was a bit of a challenge too. My stomach was rumbling when I got to the bus. Lunch was about 1 hour away until we reached Cat Ba Town. Arrived, had lunch and headed straight to Monkey Island. We had to take a junk boat out for about 30 mins, passing many fishing farm villages, nestled around the rocky islands . Truly an amazing sight.
Upon arriving on Monkey Island we swopped the junk boat for kayaks. 5 of us kayaked around Monkey island which took about 1 hour. I almost got swept away when strong winds kept turning my kayak around from the direction I was going and was taking me away towards the open sea. But I got real close to the rocky islands particularly at the channel that opens out to the open sea, which was awesome.
Unfortunately I could not take my camera on the kayak, so no photos here. On the way back to Cat Ba Island however, the camera was non stop in action. Back at Cat Ba town, I explored further and went to the fishing port and discovered a fish sauce brewing place. It was rottening fishes in big concrete "tombs" and big urn pots. The stench was uber salty and pungent but I took some nice shots which I was happy about.
After dinner, the 2 chinese undergrads followed me to a nearby seafood stall and ordered some great seafood dishes - prawns, sea mantis and sentinel crabs - all grilled to satisfaction. The sea mantis were surprisingly tasty but they looked like oversized centipedes/prawns. It was about 390 000 VND for the 3 of us, which is about US$7.50 each. Big swollen lips as usual from all these seafood.
Took a nice stroll at the narbour before heading back to room. Cat Ba town felt pretty small however it was beautifully framed by tall hills and the sea.
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