With our body clock still out of whack, we were up before sunrise. However this did mean we were able to watch a full sunrise sat on the top deck of the junk and chill for a few hours before people woke and breakfast was served.
A huge (not so Asian) breakfast was served at 7am whilst cruising towards our morning activity; a floating Pearl Farm, tucked away between some limestone rocks.
To my surprise it was very interesting! Just like Disney Land however, you have to walk through a gift shop at the end of the tour to get back to the junk.
We got away lightly, with a $15 pair of Pearl earrings for Siobh.
Although that's lunch money for 3 days gone! ;)
After being transferred to a small day boat, and a 45min sail, we made it to this evenings' accommodation.
The boat pulled around a large limestone formation to reveal a small, idyllic white sandy beach with no more than 10 stilted-huts; some on land, some in the ocean. We had found Nam Cat Resort.
There were just a few sun loungers on shore, a volleyball net, and a handful of kayakers in and around what looked like the movie set for 'The Beach'...!!!!
To say we had arrived in heaven was an understatement!
Room keys were handed out, and as mentioned before there could have been no more than 10 huts, therefor maybe 20-25 people on this completely deserted island! Siobh and I had booked the cheapest option and expected a bungalow/hut set back behind the beach within the slight jungle. When handed our key, and given a little comment by the little Vietnamese host "Hey you, you know my brudder...? I give you best room!", we located our hut.
It was INCREDIBLE!!!
Our hut was the furthest out at sea from the beach! The room was spacious with a double AND a single bed (again), a couple of wall-mounted fans (of which we actually prefer to aircon now) and a wet room bathroom that was pretty dated but we really didn't care, we were in heaven!
Even in Vietnam, it pays to 'know' people ;)
Once settled in we hit the beach for a quick swim before lunch.
In the afternoon I took the chance to go on a 3hour bike ride to a village on a separate island while Siobh sat on the beach and lazed around. Suited us both grand!
I jumped on a small boat with a handful of others and we set off to the very small dock of a even smaller village in the jungle of Cat Ba. At the dock we were greeted with our Chinese granny bikes equip with front basket, a meaty looking bike stand and no brakes. We set off on our 6km ride along the sea wall and into the bush. After shoeing the goats and passing through a mountain tunnel we found ourselves in a large valley of lush green vegetation. It was like the setting of Jurassic park or Lost. A few more km into the valley and we arrived at Viet Tai, a very small village. All of a sudden it really felt like I was in real Vietnam. We cycled through the village, stopped for a rest, a drink and had a look around. After our break the guide came back from his 'tobacco' break extremely happy and playful. I'm not sure it was tobacco he was smoking! Back along the same trail to the boat and then back to our deserted island for the evening.
A good BBQ on the beach was served for dinner, along with a few cheeky Tiger bears.
Back to our floating (and best) hut after dinner for a few more beers on the deck; great company was found in our Ozzy neighbours, and after an hour in the guitar playing started :))))))