Cat Ba is beautiful. It’s a little island off the coast of Hai Phong. I’ve got a bit of family there. My aunt and all of her children and grand children are there. My aunt owned the ice factory that’s there and her kids (and my other aunt) own hotels and cafe/restaurants there. My parents bought a plot of land a little ways off from the main strip and plan to move there when their parental duties here are over. It’s a scary thought, yes, I have quite a bit of ties to the place.
We were in Vietnam for just under three weeks, and because I didn’t plan my itinerary there, I was constantly hustled hither thither and after a bit of begging my parents, they finally found some time for us to go to visit Cat Ba, although we only spent one night there. We got on the ferryboat at around 10 am, after breakfast. The ride actually only takes about 20-30 minutes, so the island isn’t too far away.
It was a very impromptu trip. We basically decided after we finished eating, that we’d go to Cat Ba for the day, ergo I didn’t have a proper camera on me, only my phone. So here’s a small snapshot of what kind of tiny islands you pass on the way there. The first time my mom’s family tried to send her away as a refugee to Hong Kong (and subsequently Canada), they put her on a boat off of Cat Ba in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, there were coast guard equivalents patrolling the area and my mom got let off on one of these islands. “Monkey Island,” they called it. That was her first unsuccessful attempt to get out of the country, but I digress. These mountainous islands are gorgeous.
Most of the people living on this island are by the coast, where the ferry docks are. There are two main streets, perpendicular to each other, that really is all that the island has to offer. It’s a popular tourist attraction, so you’ll see a lot of white people there. The main strip is just one road and it’s not that long. It might take you 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other (if you don’t go between the hills towards the beaches).
Close by is the famous Ha Long Bay, which we went to about 7 years ago, last time I was in Vietnam. There were a lot of stairs, and then we walked down into this huuuuge cave, all lit up with lights and things. We didn’t have much time this time though. We spent one night there and left the next day at around noon. Sad.
I took a short video of us on top of the boat on the way to Cat Ba: