Written By Kasha. Age 12.
Taking a bus-boat-bus trip from Hanoi, we arrived at the gorgeous Cat Ba Island. Ready for a change from the cold, we were hoping for nice, warm weather. Super excited to explore Ha Long Bay, the kind of Vietnam you see in postcards, we decided to explore the town and get to know our surroundings. Walking along the harbor we met up with a local, who offered to take us on a tour of Ha Long Bay the next day. The parents negotiated while the kids played on the giant stage. In the end we decided to go for it. A price was settled, deposit paid, and we arranged to meet there the next day. Hoping it would turn out all right, we headed back for an early night, taking in the beautiful scenery around us.
An early start and a quick breakfast enabled us to be there by 9am. Bundled in our new jackets we set off, worrying whether or not he would be there. And he was! Not wanting to waste a second we scrambled onto the boat and cruised out of the harbor. The view was magnificent. Mum whipped out the go-pro straight away and started photographing the islands, with their caves and cliffs. Some looked like they would fall off into the sea, the bottoms were sloping inwards where the sea had washed away the limestone karst. There was also the occasional goat prancing around the mountains, which the boys enjoyed spotting. We had seen several on the bus trip when we first arrived and I was considering the best way to smuggle one of the smaller ones into my backpack.
Once we were out of the harbor we only saw a couple of boats as we headed to Monkey Island. True to its name, monkeys inhabited the island’s jungle and came prowling along the beach. The water was crystal clear and I was all ready to run in, despite the cold chill, but Mum put her foot down. So we shed our jackets and ran along the beach and drew in the sand. Our littlest member loves collecting “special rocks” so he wandered down the beach selecting the best ones and stuffing them into his pocket. Our jackets, left unattended in a pile, attracted attention from some locals. A mother monkey and her little baby came scampering down to investigate. After pawing at the top one, she decided it wouldn’t be of use to her and there was obviously no food so she then returned to her perch on a nearby tree. Quickly grabbing our jackets so none of the others would get the same idea, we edged up to the tree and watched as the baby played around in the sand. As more monkeys appeared further down the beach, we decided to leave. None of us wanted to stick around with angry monkeys on the lose.
The rest of the day was amazing. We still couldn’t get over the beauty of the islands surrounding us. Small beaches, hidden coves, caves and tunnels would captivate us at every turn. People would wave and dogs would bark from other boats and the floating fishing villages. We stopped off at one and went kayaking to a small island with a nice looking beach. Once again Mum said no swimming, but we had a little wade while she was fussing over the Go-Pro. After a quick selfie, we headed back for cokes, coffee and Fanta. After leaving the fishing village we asked our boat driver to stop so we could do bombs off the front of the boat. Even Mr.3 had a quick dip! It was an awesome day and was filled with excitement from driving the boat, to seeing a giant fish and writing our names in the sand of an island in Ha Long Bay.
While in Cat Ba Island we did other things too. We walked up to the Cannon Fort and had fun “firing” the cannon. Triton and Mum had tired legs that night because they walked up the wrong hill at first. Signing our names in the soldiers book, running through tunnels and spotting ships out the telescope were the highlights of that day. We all learned some interesting history and saw some more goats on the way down. That led to a discussion about what animal we would want as a pet. It ended with the littlest declaring he wanted a baby elephant called Bob. After seeing all that, we made plans to visit the Hospital Cave the next day. We rented motorbikes from our hostel, fueled up on food for ourselves and gas for the bikes, then headed out. With the 2 big boys loaded on with Dad and the two girls had our little guy wedged between us. We got passed by a couple of bikes and a bus. We overshot our turnoff a bit and ended up having to turn around. The cave itself was really cool and there were manikins and guns in some rooms. It was really fun fantasizing about the Vietnamese soldiers trekking up here to get treated and how you should never declare war on Vietnam unless you are prepared to get seriously whomped.
So after learning all that history we decided to chill at the beach for the rest of our time in Cat Ba. Our favorite beach was Cat Ba 2. The first day we went it was cloudy and cold but that didn’t stop us from swimming. We were lucky and got great weather for the rest of our time. Picnic lunches, volleyball and soccer tournaments, swimming and sand castles. Family time. This is what we’re all about.
Cat Ba, you were totally amaze balls. History, adventure, fun and family. Our bus ride back to Hanoi was disastrous but we were filled with happy memories. We leave with a Go-Pro full of photos, a head full of dreams and minus a small green skim ball and 1 pair of 3 year old jandles. Already making plans to come back. So heres to our last place in Vietnam.