Okay. Sapa to Hanoi to Halong Bay to Cat Ba Island (the only inhabited island in Halong Bay). Not a great journey...maybe one of our worst. I stupidly suggested we get a seat on the overnight train ride from Sapa- as opposed to a sleeper- in order to save money. Terrible Idea. It was hot, uncomfortable, hellishly noisy and took forever. And we only saved $10.
When we arrived in Hanoi we were hungry and exhuasted, having walked the kilometre from the train station, so we decided to book our bus ticket to Halong Bay from the hotel even though it was twice as expensive as from the bus station. Turns out it was so expensive because we ended up on a tour bus and the driver, upon our arrival in Halong Bay, tried to get us to go on a tour of the bay with him (and inevitably give him more money); obviously we didn't do that.
Our trusty Lonely Planet Asia book promised booking a passage to Cat Ba Island on a tourist boat (as opposed to an organised tour) would be relatively cheap and easy. Hahahahahaa! Not really! The first man we asked told us locals didn't go to Cat Ba anymore and the only way to get there was on a tour, specifically HIS tour. Then he yelled at us when we said we didn't want to. When we asked the lady at the ticket office she just said no, there isn't and then ignored us. And basically everybody else ignored us also. We were both about to completely lose it and just start attacking random people or wailing inconsolably into our hands when somebody finally told us we could catch a local ferry from the marina. So we did. It was only $2 each and took an hour. We were very self-congratulatory. Until we arrived on the island and we were a 40 minute drive (and an impossibly long walk) to the town. Then it cost us $8 each to get a ride on a motorbike. I'm not even sure if it was worth it in the end.
On the ferry...
Things did start to get slightly better when we got to the town though (apart from the man that swore at us when we said we didn't want to eat at his restaurant and the fact that both the atm's weren't working the entire time we were there).
We were there for two days only...the first day hired a motorbike -it's our new fave thing to do- and drove to the beach, then to a national park where we climbed to the top of a mountain (a small mountain) and saw a snake and a lemur and a really long worm.
Almost at the top of the really high, really old looking structure on the top of the mountain we climbed...was it safe? Who knows...it's Asia.
The second day we went on a cruise of Halong Bay which included a seafood lunch on the boat, some kayaking and a stop at monkey beach where the monkeys were incredibly hostile and chased us around baring their teeth until we left them alone. It is mostly terrifying because we wouldn't much like to get rabies. We watched the sunset on monkey beach (away from the monkeys) and then boated back to town.
The boats of Halong Bay
We decided to book a combined ticket for our journey back to the mainland rather than suffer the hassle of doing it all separately again. We made it to Hanoi, then to the train station, then to Hue on the overnight train (on sleepers!) all with ease.
And that is where we are now. The weather isn't great so we are hiding in a cafe...I am writing (hence this blog) and Will is playing solitaire. Later we may do some sightseeing, but only if it tickles our fancy...after two and a half months of travel and a lot of moving around sometimes it is much nicer just to sit and not do anything than to traipse all around checking sites off a list (that's what I think anyway, maybe I'm just lazy).