Got the train, was about 3 hours. Found the pier, turns out I had missed the slow boat so had to get a hydrofoil instead, a crazy speed boat which takes the journey down to 45 mins! Cost around $10. I've heard these things could move but man was this thing a rocket! I was honestly speechless as to how it was possible to go that fasts on water. I sat at the front which being at the nose was elevated, and kept bobbing up and down and slamming into the water as we cruised towards Cat Ba. I like the adrenaline stuff but even I felt the butterflys, everyone kept screaming on the boat, especially the women! It was carnage. I wasn't too worried about that though, more the fact it kept on looking like we were heading straight for the giant metal bois. We eventually rocked up directly at cat ba town which was nice, and I found my digs at the top of the hill. Booked a tour of Halong Bay the next day.
Woke up to my tour which cost $18, what a bargain. We picked some more people up along the way, one of which being a Belgian girl called Jeanne who was also in my dorm, and we drove to a small pier 5 mins away. There was an American, a Canadian, an old Ausie couple, a Spaniard some Indonesian tourists and a geezer from Huddersfield with his American missus, my age. He'd done an exchange in America and also done a working visa in Aus. Was nice to here another northern voice and we got on like a house on fire, was interesting to here his stories.
We drove for around an hour or so amongst the thousands of karst islands, taking lots of photos. We eventually went into a secluded bay where there was a floating little house with lots of kayaks waiting for us. I was the odd one out, so didn't have anyone to share my kayak with, so it was just me in mine. I was much slower than anyone else lol. We went throught a tunnel, where there were lot of bats. We came through the other side and were in a couldisac of a bay. We spotted a gigantic jelly fish in the middle. We eventually we back through the tunnel into the large bay via the tunnel. I really really really struggled to get out, and had to paddle like non stop crazy as the water was flowing in the other direction. I had to use all my might and eventually I got out of the lip of the tunnel completely burnt out. I still had to make it all the way back to the boat, and every stroke took a gargantuan effort. There wasn't any current this time, but it was still a killer paddling all the way back.
We then had lunch which was really nice, the spring rolls were awesome. There was this giant commotion as to what the tour involved, as they wanted to leave us the floating house, drop some people off who had paid to go to Halong City instead, then come back for us. But turned out to just me a confusion and we went with them. We then drove to the cave which only some people went to as it cost more. En route me and the Yorkshire dude and a Canadian dude about real ales and beer. Awesome conversation! So instead we parked up and went swimming for a bit. We parked up next to a real expensive boat where people where having a nice meal, and completely blanked out their view, so instead their view consisted of the side of our boat lol!!
We picked a few people back up from the cave before sailing to drop them off onto another boat which would take them to Halong City on the main land (we were just going back to Cat Ba Island were we started). We then drove for a while and parked up where we jumped off the boat and went swimming, was so nice. I dived off the top lol. We then went to a floating fish market, picked some more people up and done some more swimming. Was such a nice day with an awesome background and great company. The karst cliffs were stunning and I thought to myself just how lucky I was. We eventually drove back
On the night me and Jeane went out for some dinner. Just before however, there was a NZ lass of Chinese decent who rocked up to the hostel, we asked if she could accompany us. We went to a cheap place and were sat next to some fat Aussie/American woman who had dreadlocks. This is where it all went downhill. The NZ lass revealed she's a management consultant for Heiniken, and went off on one talking about her job in such a show off manner, talking about how she worked 80 hour weeks and s***, and had to fly all over Asia blah blah blah, 'I got platinum straight away' she joked. There was no doubt she wasn't making it up as the way she conducted and held herself was really super impressive, and she was no doubt one of the most impressive people I've met on the trip, but it was still a bit too much. I didn't really mind it thought cause good on her, and it was nice hearing her story. Then we got onto what the fat lady done, and she was here for the year studying the Cat Ba langers, an endangered type of monkey which only live on the island, and there are about 55 left. MY GOD DID THIS RAMBLE ON! Never ever ever seen anything like it. This woman was happy to ramble on uninterrupted for half an hour on monkeys. Could she not sense the social awkwardness and the uniqueness of such conversation. Imagine if I held conversion for that long on Sunderland football club or something!! She would then talk about the similarities between people and monkeys, saying that humans are least favourite primate.
The other lass would then liken it to business, and she would then liken it back to primate interaction. Me and Jeanne did not say a word the whole night, and I felt so sorry for her as you could tell she was struggling to keep up with the English. Worst of all when we finally finally got up to leave, the fat American lass asked the NZ woman if she wanted to meet up for dinner the next night, and even gave her explicit directions to where to find her hotel and at what time!!!!! Man I felt so sorry for her, was meant to be her little holiday lol!
Got bus and boat and then another bus back to Hanoi with Jeanne. She eventually took a taxi back, but I knew my way and decided just to walk, and we said bye. I then bought an open bus ticket from my old hostel and got bus. Absolutely hoyed in down on the night as we all waited for our bus.