“You must wear a helmet because a foreigner died here. The mountain is dangerous, but don’t worry… more adventure for you!”
Those were the words of Valentino, our tour guide, as we arrived on Cat Ba Island. We looked at each other like he was insane. This coming from the man that flew up the jagged mountain peaks while we all struggled behind him! Obviously, his idea of adventure was pretty extreme if it involved possible death!
All of the passengers on our tour where still together at this point, although we would split up later this day. We had the choice of staying on this island in a bungalow, or going back to Cat Ba City and staying in a fancy hotel. Being the adventurers that we are, we picked the Jungle bungalows in a remote village, on the island. Of course!
We picked the bicycles we wanted, except Justin was left with the last remaining bicycle. The seat wasn’t adjustable and terribly low. We handed our backpacks to a local who would take them to our
bungalow area by motorcycle. At this point, we really didn’t know what to expect. We had seen some tiny pictures of the inside of our bungalow, however TIA (This Is Asia), so you don’t often get what you think are getting. It’s all up to luck really. So far the trip had been great, so we assumed that since we were paying the same as the people that were staying in a hotel, we should be pedaling towards something really great.
The first hill was torture. We had to stop and push our bikes for a few minutes.
This was where the fatality occurred. Presumably, that is why this above sign was erected.
“Becareful. Slopping Road, Go slowly”
The rain started to fall, and I was pretty nervous out skidding, so I rode at a decent speed. Once everyone else disappeared ahead of us, I felt bad for Justin because he had to stay behind with me. I’m sure he would have liked to go speeding of. What a loyal husband he will be! I felt so at peace riding through the jungle, rain coming down all around me. I thought of how awesome it was to be in a jungles of Vietnam, riding a bicycle in the rain. I took the time to enjoy the ride and take in the landscape of the island.
It was an unforgettable moment for me.
So much for Valentino worrying that we might die… He took a motorcycle to the village, and he didn’t come back to see where anyone was! Funny!
Viet Hai Chao Don Quy Khach
“Welcome to Viet Hai”
In the distance, the mountains were misty. It was drizzling slightly, and the air felt fresh and clean.
We had lost everyone, but we just kept following the road. We had gone over a mountain, through some fields, and we seemed to be nearing a village.
We realized that the others were not too far ahead of us. We just couldn’t see them in the mountains because of all the turns, and steep hills.
You can’t tell here but we had silly imprints on our heads from the helmets.
Whisper Nature – Bungalow and Resort
A perfect name for this place. The were no sounds except for those from the nature.
Inside our bungalow.
We parked our bikes and then sat down to rest for a few minutes.
The ride had taken about 20-30 minutes. Valentino informed us that all, but four, passengers would be returning to the boat. Only Mark, Cleo (a couple from the Netherlands), Justin, and I would be remaining in this village. In the morning, it would be up to us to wake up early, ride back to the pier, and wait for them to pick us up again. At this moment we didn’t think that would be an issue. Of course we didn’t know that the night had in store for us…
Before Valentino took the others back to the boat, he decided to take us on “another adventure”, a hike through the jungle. This time he kept saying, “Watch out for snakes and spiders. If you see one, tell me… Yup, adventure!”
What we later found out was that if we saw one that we should tell him because he didn’t want to get bitten. He wanted to stay clear of the “dangerous” animals. What a great guide!
Mark and Cleo
Justin and I started trailing off at the back again.
We would only catch up when Valentino stopped to show the group something.
Monkeys in the jungle!
Even though we had already done a hike earlier that morning, and bicycled through the mountains, Valentino had us climbing over and under things. He wouldn’t say where we were going, he just kept on with his one liners, “Yup… you follow, more adventure for you”. The path got treacherous, so we started joking that Valentino was taking us deep into the jungle to kill us all off.
No, really, where are we going Valentino??
And then finally we reached a view point.
The view was beautiful, but there wasn’t much time to stop and admire it. By the time we got to the to, Valentino had already started down the other side of the mountain.
Down we go…
Oops.. I almost fell.
Valentino showed us how to make a whistle from a leaf. I learned how to do this when I was six, but he seemed pretty impressed with it, so we went with it!
That’s the mountain he took us up, over, and then around.
The road leading back to our bungalow.
Here is a video from ATP travel about the Bungalows on Cat Ba Island, and other pictures of Ha Long Bay:
Our next blog post will be about the evening we spent at this Bungalow Resort. It was quite an adventure!