Ha Long Bay Cruise Day 2 – Cat Ba Island Activities

Travel Period: 21 Sep – 28 Sep 2014

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Hanoi Day 6 Itinerary –

To Cat Ba Island

After a sumptuous lunch and resting in our room, the announcement came through the speakers for us to meet at the deck. Again, we boarded the ferry which took us to Cat Ba Island. Alighting at the pier, the sight of green forested mountains greeted us. 

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Earlier during lunch, we had requested to sit on the motorised vehicle, a buggy. The activity planned by the Cruise operator was actually, “Biking in Cat Ba Island“. Thus, we were supposed to cycle or sit at the back of a driver on a motorcycle.

We had to pay more for the buggy but we didn’t want to cycle since the weather was really hot (we perspire a lot!). Also, Dar absolutely have to sit on a vehicle if he spots one. He would be disappointed if he doesn’t. Hence, when the staff announced that they only had one buggy to share among so many of us and hoped that we could change our mind to let the more needy take it, we didn’t budge…Even though we are strong and abled, I just couldn’t imagine myself cycling uphills along the paths. I’m also worried about the resting point being very far.

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And we were right, because the vehicle went through many uphills, downhills, winding roads and even through a tunnel! Finally, we spot the entrance of a village which is our meeting and resting point.

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I did gave a thought that maybe we should have cycled as it could be more fun to go at a slower pace to view the surrounding greenery? Then, after a long time, when we were all rested because we arrived too early, the other couple with a child who cycled all the way finally appeared, all panting and sweaty. This made me glad we didn’t take that option. 

Resting Point

We explored the little village a little and saw a dog and some plantation. One of the areas was a homestay or small resort! I was really surprised that people actually stay here overnight. I don’t see much things to do around the island nor any nice scenery when we passed by. Maybe they were located somewhere else?

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Village School

The second activity was to walk to the Village School where children are housed during the daytime like a child-care centre while their parents go off to work.

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The building was nice and were built with donations from foreigners.

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We tried to say hello to the little kids around 2-5 years old. They were very cute and looking very curiously at us group of tourists. I wasn’t sure whether they accept donations and our guide didn’t indicate anything so I didn’t ask. If you ever go on such a tour trip, maybe you can bring along some stationeries? I wasn’t prepared since I didn’t know we were visiting a village school like this. 

The rest of the tour group didn’t know what to do and why they were there…hmm.. can someone explain? I mean, if they want us to donate, go round with a money box or something for us to drop in but we were just staring at the kids, with the kids staring at us. They do not know English and we have no sweets/things to give them cos we were not informed (could have purchase somewhere?). Therefore, we broke off from those people and watched Dar play with the simple playground of a swing and a cycling merry-go-round. He was friendly to those kids but they didn’t seem to know what to do with him.

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In the end, visiting this village school became a message to Dar, showing him how fortunate he was to be flying to a foreign country at the age of six. That he’s attending such a good school with infrastructure such as a library, computers, huge artificial grassy field to play with etc. He had better appreciate his life in Singapore and study hard. 

After they chit-chatted for a while (we totally did not know what was going on with that group of tourists since the cruise guide seemed to be talking to them all the time, ignoring us). Actually, I kept feeling this way (being looked down upon since we are not Caucasian) the entire time on Cruise since we were the only Chinese on board. We were mostly left to ourselves to do activities and seldom explained to unless we asked. This is one grouse I had with the Cruise we took.

Soon, we headed back to the pier in the same vehicle again to board the ferry. Before boarding, we were chased down by a guy asking for something in his limited English and grabbing Vin by the hand quite roughly. It took us a moment to understand that he was asking for payment. We were shocked. What payment? I thought we already paid for the vehicle ride? Then, he said in limited English that we drank some drinks in the resting hut just now. What? We didn’t know that was not provided from Au Co! Argh… they just told us to take the drinks when we reached the hut and we didn’t know they cost money. If it’s so, they should just have collected there and then when we drank, instead of rudely stopping us as if we owned them money and want to run away before paying… sigh.

Actually, we really don’t mind spending. It’s small money to us and we thought it’s great to help them. Like I said, nobody explained anything to us or talk to us about what to do, ignoring us. That is why even though we were upgraded to this luxury cruise, I’m not too happy due to the inadequate attention we received. I would be much happier in a smaller boat in my opinion, with a few young people or couple to make friends with.

Compared to the great service attitude given at Calypso Hotel which I would totally recommend to anyone I meet, I was quite annoyed several times during the Au Co Cruise, even though the food and stay was great. Therefore, it really depends on who you were arranged with during the 3 days cruise, which you have no control.

This trip to Cat Ba Island was our least favourite itinerary out of the 3 days we spent in Ha Long Bay. 

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