On the 10th of September we finally left Hanoi. Jamie and I both were more than ready to leave the city and find a beach.
You can book your journey through a tour operator from Hanoi- so they look after everything for you: taxi to train station (or bus ride) to Hai Phong, and then the hydrofoil to Cat Ba, and there to your hotel. We decided to book it all on our own- its a fraction of the cost and easy enough to plan.
Our hotel was right on the front of a very pretty harbour, there are palm trees and bars/restuarants all along the walk. We stayed at the Duc Tuan (about £10 per night per room), we had two double beds, loads of room and an wonderful view.
We went out for a few cockatils at the Good Bar the first night and the next day we rented bikes and rode all around the island. This was my first time on a moped (I had an automatic Honda Airblade- 110cc). I can’t lie here, I was absolutely scared stiff- I always knew that our plan was to buy bikes in Hue and ride to Saigon, Cat Ba is relatively quiet so a perfect place to practice. Jamie, Dan and Bell are all experienced riders (and they’re all more confident than me!!). That morning I remember thinking to myself that I would give it a go and if I didn’t like it I’d just tell them straight that it wasn’t for me— This photo is me (looking really worried) about to start off:
I loved it! Jamie says I’m like a Granny out on a Sunday drive but I felt like it was fast- my speedometer didn’t work so I’ll never know! We went to the hospital cave: a secret, bomb proof hospital, and a safe-house for Viet Cong leaders during the American war. The cave has three floors and about seventeen rooms; an operating theatre, quick escape routes that involved jumping a floor down into a plunge pool of water, training areas for soldiers and a huge natural cavern. We hired a local guide- for about £1 and well worth it. The cave is half way up a hill, and sits under 40m of rock.
After the cave we rode around the island, the scenery was breathtaking. We stopped by a lake and decided to venture out onto a wobbly wooden bridge across the water- turns out that at the end is just someone’s house! Good fun though, it wobbled more when the boys were on it!
We stopped off for a quick swim at the beach before going home, then went our for more cocktails and well earned dinner. My hands were bruised from gripping the bike so hard! Such good fun though, its made our minds up to definitely buy bikes in Hue and ride down xxx