We have now completed our 18 hour busdrive back from HoiAn to Halong bay.
For me (Charlie)this was a bustrip from hell. I couldn’t sleep because of the driver was honking the horn at every single driver on a scooter (and there are MANY of them in Vietnam). He also decided to chickenrace all drivers to see if he could pass them before he met oncoming traffic in the opposite lane.
The roads are very bad here and there is no real speedlimit, so you can imagine how fun it is trying to see the positive in sitting in a bus for that long. Without a toilet and a driver that snaps at you if you kindly ask him to pull over so that you can go do your busines in a whole in the bushes.
But we made it back to Hanoi in one piece. A bit late though since the bus had some technical problems and we had to pick up about 20 people on the way.
So the breakfast we planned to eat when we arrived in Hanoi was not an issue anymore. Straight onto the next bus. A four hour drive to Halong bay.
We are starting to get a bit tired of the tourists. Vietnam is a country full of attractions for tourists and the tours are hard to avoid. Even trying to get from one city to another will at some point include a tour. The touristinformation sells you a ticket from one big city to another and then an extra ticket to your next destination. What you’ll not get informed of is that the transferbus is actually a tourist-minivan that will stop at two or three places along the way to try to sell you stuff or donate money for some tempel. If you want to avoid this you should ask at the local busstation, but connections between cities and villages are not always easy to find.
Getting to Halong Bay from Hanoi to was no different. Halong bay is the outer harbour of Halong city and from here you can go to the popular Catba Island. That’s where we where going. Passing through Halong bay will give you a beautiful view of all te limestone formations that are set as one of the worlds seven wonders.
Getting through there to Catba Island should not be that difficult…….we thought wrong.
There are no locals boats, as far as we know, that takes you to the island. And arriving there with a boat will not take you to the city on the island, but to the opposite side of the island. Then the transportation would be a bus or a taxi. The bus stops running before you’ll get there so there’s no point in trying. And the taxis will make you pay an extreme amount of money since you often don’t have any other choice than to pay.
So after a while we realized that we HAD to book a tour. Wether we liked it or not. And Halong bay even has a fee that you pay to even be able to see it. This fee is not included in the ticket fee.
The scenery was beautiful with limestone mountains and steep hills and caves. The sun went down as we steered into the Catba bay harbour. A nice end to our long journey.
We met two french people about our age on the boat and we accompanied them on the tranferbus to the city to try and find a hotel. After about a 15 minute drive we stopped and they said there is a hotel in the harbour we stopped in that’s recommended by Lonely planet. So we checked it out and the frenchmen could really bargian his way to a good price for the room.
So we are now ready to get some good night sleep and get ready for a new day.