Day 24 - Rock The Cat BaMarch 4, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C
Last night out tour guide Tiger suggested that some people like to get up to watch the sun rise and if we did to set our alarms for 5.45. I happily would have taken the extra sleep time but Matt wanted to get up to watch and I hate missing out so for fear of it being the best sun rise ever I got up. Lesson learnt - always listen to your gut and stay in bed. It was really cloudy so we didn't see anything. Grumpily we went to breakfast at 7am. Luckily there was cheese spread and fried eggs which perked me up considerably plus gave us the energy we needed to climb to the viewing point at Ti Top island, the first stop of our day.
The walk up was 425 steps - I know, I counted. And to be honest the view was nice but as it was cloudy it wasn't the best. But being positive there was a geocache up there - my first proper one in Vietnam. On the way back down two Chinese ladies also stopped me and took it in turns to have pictures with me and my sweaty face. I hope I adorn a photo album or even better a prime wall position some day soon.
After this everyone doing the 2 night tour swapped boats and say bye to the 1 nighters. The new boat isn't a sleeper boat and a bit less glamorous (no fake grass anyway) but still has beer of course. We sailed for a while to Cat Ba island. The island is fairly large, around 13000 people live there and in the summer apparently gets packed out. We picked up some bikes which have seen better days, stocked up on water and cycled for about 20 minutes to a small village. I've not cycled in about 5 years so took a while to get back into the swing of it (and I'm now pretty saddle sore) but Matt was happy on his. There were many hazards and distractions like dogs sleeping in the road, electric carts using the roads and random goats walking along to negotiate. First stop was for rice wine. We started with a hibiscus rice wine, all nice and normal. Flowers in with the wine, great. Then we moved on to snake rice wine. So rice wine with about 10-15 dead snakes in it. That they leave in the jar. Just vile (see photos).
A further 5 minute cycle (luckily not too drunk from the wine) we left the bikes and went for a trek through the jungle for an hour. We saw a tiny squirrel and went through a bat cave - though luckily the bats spend dry season elsewhere. There was some cool formations full of snail shells from when the sea level was higher and filled the cave. After some easy rock climbing with the drifting sounds of people in the village doing karaoke (at 12.30pm) we got back on the bikes and cycled back to the boat for a well needed lunch. I ate a Vietnamese special of teeny tiny prawns (Matt won't eat prawns of any size) which felt a bit grim for some reason. After lunch we had the option of kayaking again around the boat but we were all tired and lethargic so napped on the sun deck of the boat. Matt decided to jump in from the top deck a few times with mixed success (see video on Facebook...). Then it was time to carry on sailing around Cat Ba to the main built up town.
We met for dinner and headed to a place one of Tiger's friend's owns. You would never, ever find it if you didn't know it existed despite it being large. It was down a couple of alleys, up some metal steps and into a really big, bare room with plastic chairs and a small BBQ in the corner. It was a hot pot restaurant so each table had a couple of gas stoves on them to cook your fresh sea food. They brought over a cooler of beer and more rice wine. The rice wine was in a re-used big water bottle, the Vietnamese equivalent of home brew. Tiger and Thuy cooked the barely dead crabs (I think I saw a couple move), squid, clams and prawns for us as well as some fish, tofu and veg. It was all delicious once you figured out how to eat it. It was an unusual place, very much a casual affair. While we were eating a group of women came in to practise singing, apparently in preparation for a performance at International Women's Day celebrations. When you needed the toilet you were taken to the person who owns the restaurant's house and I literally went through the bedroom of an old man in bed watching TV to use the loo. When Matt went another old man got kicked out of the bathroom whilst he was brushing his teeth. Quite the experience. And all for about £5 each. As were the draft beers we had on the way home - about 30p a pint! Needless to say we're having a great time on this tour.Read more