Leaving Hanoi via motorbike was about as much as fun as one could think. I couldn’t help but to be thrilled, thinking “I did it. I bought a motorcycle in Vietnam and touring around the countryside!” This has definitely been a dream of mine and it is coming true. As you can imagine there were few hiccups leaving but I got those sorted. But I finally got on the road. Trying to navigate through busy streets and highways all the while looking at my phone GPS which is in a semi-waterproof case around my neck is a challenge. From researching online, I knew that there was a ferry from Hai Phong to Cat Hai Island and then there was another from Cat Hai to Cat Ba Island. I didn’t know the schedule or how long it would take me to get there but I knew I would manage. So after a few wrong turns, my journey set out to the unknown. I didn’t know how long the ride was going to take me so I was prepared to stay anywhere along the way.
Most of the way to Hai Phong was highway after the city. Cruising on the green machine felt good. The engine was running smoothly, my bags were bungeed in, and I was on a mental high. It took a majority of the day to reach the destination and I stopped for lunch along the way. A local asked me to join him for tea for lunch but I needed to get moving. I politely declined and as I am learning the Vietnamese are very friendly and have a very welcoming culture up north. After Hai Phong, I had to cruise through an industrial area similar to the Houston ship channel, dodging huge trucks who undoubtedly could not see me. I felt like a gnat that was ready to be squashed at any moment. When I finally arrived at the ferry station, I told the ticket agent “Cat Ba! Cat Ba!” She nodded and pointed to the boat. Then a progression of other locals started pointing….everyone in Vietnam helps you! I drove the “angry pickle” in the direction of the pointing locals onto an empty ferry platform. The boat hurriedly launched off. The boat was empty. Hmm…”okay am I on the right boat? I said Cat Ba. She nodded. Did she understand? Where is everyone?” When traveling, your mind seems to always have a lot of questions. So I rode my private boat and luckily it docked on Cat Hai. I didn’t know if Cat Hai was where I was going to be staying for the night or if I was going to make it to Cat Ba. I was prepared for anything. The nice thing about this island is that there is only one road so I knew that the ferry was at the end of the road. So I cruised the angry pickle through the island and received a lot of friendly waves from the locals. I really really like this!!!! I have to wonder if Americans would be so nice as to wave to a strange foreigner cruising through their island on motorbike like this? I would certainly hope so. As I reached the other side of the island, the next ferry was waiting. “YES, I made it!!!”
I really had a good time on Cat Ba. I stayed at a really cool hostel with a bunch of good people. It is always nice to make new friends. The hostel also had AC and really comfy beds which was a huge plus. The town itself is a big Vietnamese tourist destination so I thought it was kind of fun to see what the Vietnamese tourist are like when they are on vacation. There were literally hundreds of tandem bikes (2 person bicycles) cruising around with sometimes 4 people on them. It was hilarious to see these tandem bicycle gangs cruising the streets with Vietnamese yelling and laughing everywhere. It cracked me up. Unfortunately I did not have any travelers who would take me up on my offer to share a bike. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of these bikes for the blog. I did get some video though.
Ha Long Bay
Monkey Island. A day trip Vietnamese touristy destination. I think there was only one monkey…hahaha.
Here the Vietnamese were playing some game. I never understood what they were doing or saying but it was funny to watch.