I went to Vietnam this past weekend and it was a lot of fun! I flew into Hai Phong on Thursday night after work. I was definitely pretty tired. I got in around 10 on Friday. Before I came I was really worried that I’d have a tough time figuring out how to get from point A to B. Turns out it was really simple and I was basically guided and probably ripped off from as soon as I touched down. I’m not complaining though everything was super cheap. At least I think it was.
I was going to Cat Ba island which like the name sounds is an island. So I had to take a boat to get there. The boat was basically a barge, it was pretty darn slow, and the seats were literally falling apart. Either way there were quite a few other tourists there mostly French which was a theme for the whole trip. Al together the ride took somewhere between 2 or 2/30 hours to get where I was going. So it was a bit long but that’s ok. I was able to go outside and see everything. I also met a Korean on the boat and we ended up hanging out all weekend. Also thankfully the weather was really nice.
1st look of Cat Ba from the dock
Once I got in I found the Hostel where I was staying. It was ok. The guy who checked me in sounded peeved that anyone was talking to him. He was also really strange. It wasn’t bad though not like I was spending any time there anyways. After throwing my stuff down I went and looked for something to eat. Wasn’t that hard to find something. Got some Pho Bo that was just awesome, and it was like $2. I went back there again. I spent most of the time just walking around and being asked by everyone if I wanted to rent a motor bike or mota bye.
Didn’t do much day one. Just walked up to cannon fort for a little bit. Cannon fort was made by the Japanese and then used by the French and Vietnamese. It gave a pretty good view of the island.
See cannons. I have mixed opinions on the green army guys.
Second day I went on a boat tour. Continuing the trend of the trip it was packed with Europeans who were on week or month long trips through the country. The sky was pretty overcast which I am kind of happy about. It was still warm out and the water wasn’t cold either so it worked out and I wasn’t baking all day.
A community of around 1,600 people live on Hạ Long Bay in four fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tàu and Vông Viêng in Hùng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. They live on floating houses. wiki
We went through a fishing village on the way and back from wherever we went. My question is how did people end up living there in the first place? Did they just wake up one day with their houses floating in the water after being carried off by a flood? Then they just decided why not stay? Also went Kayaking. Which was probably the best thing on the trip.
After scooting around for awhile on the boat we went swimming/snorkeling. Got to jump off the boat too. It had more of an impact than I was expecting. The whole area was pretty cool. I found that I was taking the same picture over and over. Almost all of them looked the same. That being said it was just really nice looking so I couldn’t help it!
All of the rocks were thinner on the bottom from the water and there were also lots of little caves and things pretty cool stuff.
The bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Wiki
Also went to a place called monkey island. Presumably because there are monkeys. I’ve seen tours being sold to go there. I would never recommend getting a tour there. Especially not for ₩150,000. The whole thing is a 10-12 minute walk up some really pointy rocks then you go down trying not to die so you can watch monkeys steal things off German teenagers.
By far one of the coolest things I did or ever have done is rent a motor bike and ride around. It was way easier than I thought it would be and there was pretty much no traffic to speak off, there were also no driving rules it looked like. It was just really awesome.
The first place that we stopped at was the cave hospital that the Vietnamese used during the war.
There were two entrances and this was the exit but it looked like this on the other side too. My first reaction was wondering if this really was it. Kind of lame, it’s a cave and a room yay. Turns out it’s a lot bigger than one room and is pretty huge. Really surprising. Kind of gave me an appreciation for what people are talking about when they mention the Viet Cong having tunnels all around. These things could be really substantial bases.
The thing was still a giant rectangle though built underneath a giant cave. So the second floor to it was just walking around on the roof of the concrete box with the natural cave wall above.
The coolest thing about the whole ride though was the drive. Going up and down the hills and through the valleys was really cool. It was kind of like the day before but on land and a lot more majestic. Going through the hills though was pretty freaky though. Sure it looked really cool but there were lots of zigs and zags and I was having trouble going around all of them. So I went about 2mph and drifted down while my friend raced around the turns.
Top of the national park
I also went to the national park. It was a lot longer of a hike and a lot harder of one too. I was dying out there!
My favorite part though was getting to the other side of the island.
We came down from the hills on the far side of the picture and it was sweet. Looking out before making my way down I could see the inlet and the road winding and flowing next to the water. It felt like I was in Monte Carlo or some James Bond movie, racing next to the water. However the road was quite bad so I went pretty slow, it was still cool either way.
Pretty much the same thing
After this we bustled back to the rental because we had to catch the last boat out. The boat out was a speed boat and only took 45 minutes to get back. Being back in Hai Phong we still had about 6 hours till the plane left at 11.
Didn’t really do much. Got a cab to Big C which is like a Vietnamese Walmart. They had Lotteria too! Lots of chicken. So we just messed around there then walked to a street and got something to eat. When all was said and done we had like 3 hours so we just went to the airport. Pro tip: give them your ARC (residency card) with your passport. Thankfully we were ahead of schedule and we landed in Incheon at 5 instead of 6 on Monday morning.
A few things I found interesting was the obsession with the USD and how important it was. Also how many Europeans were around I was expecting a lot more people from English speaking countries. Then the fishing boats and everywhere else were decked out in Vietnam flags.
Overall the trip was really awesome and I’m glad I went. Like I said in the beginning I was pretty nervous about everything, but I really had no trouble with a thing. It all worked out in the end.
Don’t forget the Pens just beat the Blue Jackets and won the series! Rooting for Nashville too.