Tag Archives: Northvietnam

Goodbye Vietnam – Cát Bà Island… Vietnam Post 5/5

… is the biggest island in the Halong Bay in the north of Vietnam. The three of us were thinking for a long time about how intensive we wanted to visit Halong Bay.

Of course, the first question was how much time we will have in the end. The boat tours vary from one day trips, two-night, three-night boat tours and you should book in advance. And they vary from 20USD to several thousand… Wonder what that would include… On one hand, we said to ourselves that such a little luxury tour at the end and at the farewell could be quite nice. On the other hand, we wondered if we would really enjoy being ‘locked up’ for 2 or 3 days with other tourists… Sometime from somebody we heard about Cát Bà Island and that it is possible to do tours from there. We didn’t book anything until the end and found us one afternoon on the ferry to Cát Bà Island. The sun was shining, the sea air blew around our noses. We decided not to drive all the way into town to look for accommodation, but to look somewhere out of town before. We found an idyllic FUNtastic homestay on the mountainside in a small village with a small beach.

There was everything you need, good food with vegetables from the garden, cold drinks, nice little bungalows and even a pool table (Where the owner challenged Sascha every day, and Sascha let him win (from time to time…). We made a little sunset tour into town and when returned we met our bungalow neighbors, a French couple. We exchanged our information about any boat trips and prices, as our host interferes. He could also organize a “private” boat, one just for the five of us. It did not take long before we had agreed on a fair price for everyone and a private boat day tour for the next day was on the go! Time for a toast! [Sascha speaks and opens up another bottle of beer and goes, more or less straight, to the pool table]

We spent a wonderful day together in the Halong Bay, with stops for canoeing, super delicious lunch prepared by the captain, swimming time, a visit to Monkey Island (where Sascha got attacked by that F….g Monkeys!!!) and above all in super nice little company.

The last day before we had to go back to Hanoi, we used to discover the rest of the island. We explored the fort which was fantastic, drive up the paths to the viewpoints and get to know the other end of the island. We had done everything right. We enjoyed this island and until the last minute.

In Hanoi we now had to return the motorcycles and say goodbye to David – as usual with tacos and happy hour 1 margarita bowls. Now it was finally time to say goodbye to George – the good times always go by way too fast! George (the lucky f…er.) had time to stay in South East Asia as long as he wanted. He kept the motorcycle and travelled through Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam.

We wished him a lot of fun and planned that he might come to Europe in spring with his BMW. (But then this Corona thingy came up. Hint to remember when we read this in 10 years from now: That was the very time when first all the super-honk-rednecks bought all the toilet paper they could get hold on and then went all mad into this conspiracy theories and ran around with the aluminum hats on their head!… Unreal…) In Hanoi we visited the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater and that was a great show. It has its roots in an art form that dates back to the 11th century.

The tradition of water puppet theatre origines in a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would entertain by standing in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing on long sticks over the water.

Performances are accompanied by a Vietnamese orchestra playing traditional music using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. The music you can hear in this video:

We all know what happened then. Travel plans of any kind are on hold. George is back in the States right now, we are in Hamburg, Germany, working in our “home office”. Nobody knows how exactly it will go on, we don’t want to talk too much about it at this point. We hope you have some fun with our report and the attached photos. We are making ourselves as comfortable as possible at home. We realize how lucky we have been during all our travel stages regarding riots, border closings, illnesses or like now facing a pandemic. Moreover, we are grateful that we do have a cozy comfortable place to stay right now. Time to remember or to let new travel plans mature.

We send our best regards to all corners of this wonderful planet and hope you all stay well! Still don’t forget to dream and even more: don’t forget to turn your dreams into action. Remember: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! (a famous Chinese proverb千里之行,始於足下, Chapter 64 of Dao De Jing by Laozi)    😉

Take care,

Kerstin and Sascha

What can we recommend? Post 3 / 5

We especially liked the deserted border regions in the north with China. The road conditions are generally not the worst, but you should be aware that this could change quickly. You cannot rely on the weather forecast, so we drove on despite the bad forecast and had bright sunshine; and vice versa…

A heavy rain shower or a thunderstorm can not only turn the roads into a mud battle, but also make them impassable, due to landslides or destroyed bridges. Even the cold fog can quickly take away your complete view, so that it is not only a real ride into the unknown. No, you are rapidly soaked and frozen and it is annoying not to be able to see anything of the breathtaking environment. Because that is what this landscape up there really is: gorgeous. High peaks, rice terraces, waterfalls, canyons, caves, caves and again caves, mountain villages, friendly people from different cultures. It is worth it; the north remains our favorite of what we have seen!

We had the one or other rainy and fogy days, which made us turn to the south earlier. The Ho Chi Minh Road is for sure another highlight. Outside the few villages, we hardly met any people on that road. What should not let you become unfocused, since there are all the cows, water buffalos, chickens, pigs, ducks and you never know whether a cuddle or a truck in the next bend is coming towards us on your side?

Speaking of traffic. Compared to Jakarta, Indonesia or the traffic of Lima, Peru we found the traffic quite humane. You must adapt, think for others and go with the flow. The traffic flow works; you shouldn’t be too impressed by the crowd. The main intercity roads are supply roads and full of trucks and intercity buses that afford to race. You should avoid these roads or drive with great care. It makes little sense to insist on your right, because here the law of the bigger, the stronger applies. You also always have to expect oncoming traffic on your own side and everywhere.

This is not taken too seriously here; according to the motto: ‘Nothing came yesterday, and then there will be certainly nothing today as well’. In a hairpin bend Kerstin could only avoid a truck in the ditch, which caused her a 2-day break, a lot of pain and still problems with her ankle joint. Even though complete motorcycle protection clothing, without the gear it would have been a total disaster!  

Yes, we have been on the road with light luggage. Nevertheless, however, always in complete motorcycle protective clothing (boots, jacket, trousers, gloves and helmet).

One of our principles, fortunately as it turns out. Almost all tourists in Vietnam (or Southeast Asia) wear rarely any protective clothing. Although many of them do not even have driving experience.

From our point of view incomprehensible, especially since most accidents of this kind can be fatal. (And they sadly are from time to time, just two weeks after we came home there was a couple on their bike which didn’t make it home again)