We left for Ha Long Bay quite early and got on to a packed mini-bus, the journey took about 3 hours with one stop. When we arrived at the dock we were told that our tour had been changed slightly, we were now going to spend our first night on Cat Ba Island rather than on the Junk boat as it was full.This was fine with us as we would just do the tour the other way round.
Once on the boat we sailed out into the bay and toward the limestone pinnacles, there are apparently nearly 2000 islands in the bay.It was really relaxing and the scenery was lovely and the ride was really relaxing.We made our first stop at a fishing village, which we both thought would be on one of the islands, but the village is actually a floating village.Lots of floating houses and the fishing village is a big raft with pools cut out to hold the fish.You can walk around the raft and if you want buy fish to be cooked on the boat. We got back on the boat for a seafood lunch which was really tasty.Our next stop saw us all get off of the junk and onto a small boat, we were taken through a low cave and into an open area of water surrounded by rocks, we were taken back to the junk past a floating school.Our next stop of the day was Hang Dau Go a grotto/cave which was massive we had to climb a large number of steps to enter and then we there are lots of walkways through the stalactites and stalagmites, the cave has been lit and has a very mystical air.We then boarded the boat and were taken to Cat Ba Island, the island is not very big and to get to the town, we had to be taken over the hills in a minibus.We checked into our guesthouse and we all headed for dinner at a nearby hotel, the meal was again seafood with exactly the same dishes we had for lunch.We were going to meet some of the people from the tour for a few drinks, but we fell asleep at about 9.30, think we needed it.
Day 2 - We woke on Cat Ba Island and went for lunch at the hotel down the road, we were meant to be going trekking in Cat Ba National Park, but our guide told us that it was too wet to go.Instead we had a couple of free hours so we went and rented a tandem pushbike to get to the beach. We headed off, but we had to go up a hill to the beach and ended up both getting off and pushing the bike!At the beach we didn't swim, but just sat on the sand and chilled out. After about an hour the sky turned really dark and we could see the rain heading for the beach so we cycled back to the town, it was really funny as we now had to go downhill, so we were just free-wheeling and as Wayne was driving he forgot that we should have been on the other side of the road, so there we were flying along on this tandem with traffic heading towards us.As we got back the heavens opened so we took shelter and we found out that this was the first lot of rain in 20 days.We met for a seafood lunch and then we were told that we had another 2 hours before the bus was picking us up to take us to the junk, as there was not much to do we headed to an Internet Cafe.We got to the dock to board the boat but had to hang around again for 45 minutes as it was not there.We were taken to our room, which was quite cosy and then we sat in the shade with an American guy called Brad, who had been on the boat for the day.The weather had brightened up and it was a lovely afternoon to sail around the islands.After about an hour we arrived at the kayaking area and there were lots of other tourist boats there and lots of people kayaking around the islands.We had an hour in the kayak, but my co-ordination is crap so Wayne ended up rowing us nearly the whole time, but he said it was easier than letting me try and help!After the kayaking the boat moored up in a bay and we were allowed to swim, it was really refreshing and a nice atmosphere as it was just getting dark and everyone had been waiting all day to swim.We only had about 20 minutes for swimming as dinner was being served on the boat, again seafood, but very tasty and a wider selection this was accompanied by a glass of nice red wine.After dinner we went on to the top of the boat and led on the sun loungers.It was brilliant; a full moon nestled between two of the pinnacles, lots of shining stars and lots of quiet.It was so peaceful we all just led there in silence.
Day 3 - was an early start breakfast at 7.30am, this consisted of hard fried egg with some bread followed by dragon fruit.We then headed back to Cat Ba Island to pick up some people from the tour that had stayed 2 nights in Cat Ba and then we headed back to Ha Long port.The whole group including us thought the tour was a little disappointing as the itinerary that we booked included more time for swimming in the bay, a visit to Monkey Island and also the trek through Cat Ba national park, none of this we did.The guide said that there was no time because we stayed on the Island the first night but he could not see that, that was not our fault.He just said we should complain to our tour agent, we did but the boss was conveniently not around for the 2 days after we got back and the people there were not going to help us, so it all tainted the trip.Although the time we did have on the boat was lovely it is just a shame we did not arrange to stay on the boat for 2 nights.