DAY 3: HANOI -> CATBA
We woke up early since we will be picked up by the van at around 8am. We were still able to have breakfast before we were picked up. By the way, we just booked this package from the hostel – they have the best staff! They took care of everything for us and we just needed to show up.
So from our hostel, we picked up the other passengers joining us and we were brought to a bigger bus that will take us to the pier. I believe we docked at Ben Pha Got and took a 10-minute ferry ride to Ben Pha Cai Vieng in Cat Ba Island. First time ko mag-roro! Hahahaha! When we got to the other side, we took another bus to take us to the town proper. The guide asked us to provide our hotel address and they took us right outside the entrance. I love it! It’s so hassle-free. I think it was around a little after noon when we got to the hotel.
We checked in at Le Pont Bungalow Hostel. I love our hotel! Our room is super cute and we have the best view! I wish they could fix the rooms a little bit because the style and design has promise. Our room has two double beds, the other one is on the loft. We didn’t use it though cause going up the stairs can be tiring. Not to say, dangerous. LOL.
It was a little bit rainy so we spent the afternoon just walking around town and appreciating the fogginess of it all. On the way, we also booked our bus going back to Haiphong 2 days later.
We were planning to just buy food from the grocery but ended up having early dinner at Cafe My Way. I had another egg banh mi and some frappe. Gahd, I barely remember what I ordered. I love how Catba is such a small town, it’s the perfect place to just chill and it’s one of the entry points of Halong Bay.
After dinner, we took a mini bus (I forgot what they call them.) and only paid VND10,000 each instead of walking back to our hostel. We are titas like that. Hahaha. It was really fun though!
More pictures in our hostel!
At least I’m more creative with my poses this time around. I’m even channeling Glico Man LOL
This is too funny! My friend was taking photos of me. Then I stared her down. Then I started taking photos HAHAHAHA
Na-Rihanna ako ni Edz HAHAHA
We just stayed in our room the whole night, had beer (tried local different Vietnam brands!) and watched some Korean show about Cat Ba.
It’s the day of our Halong Bay tour! We booked this through our hostel. So same drill, they book it for you, you just need to show up and they will pick you up at the hotel. This hostel has an amazing staff as well. It was a gloomy morning so we were worried if the tour would actually push through. Lo and behold, it did!
The van took us to this cafe near the pier while waiting for the other people joining the tour. I think there are almost 30 of us on the tour. Our first stop was the Monkey Island. Edz was scared of monkey so she didn’t go down the boat. I, too, am not fond of monkeys but I don’t want to pass up on the experience. I never go hiking. But I did today, braved those rocks, in flipflops! I was so not prepared but I must say that the view was so worth it!
Ano pa ba kaseng kelangan kong patunayan sa pagkakayak? After last year’s 3 hours in Vang Vieng, it’s 1 1/2 hours in Halong Bay. I just don’t understand why we need to row really fast. It would’ve been nicer if we could take our time and enjoy the scenery. I blame our drunk tour guide for this.
It was lunch after kayaking and I think after that time, my day is already finished. I felt tired and sleepy so my friend and I just took a rest on the boat. I thought we were still going to a few beaches but we went to a really small one, and you need to swim over so you can get there. Had I known that, I should have played around at the beach in Monkey Island. So we stayed on the boat until we decided to return to the town proper.
We took some rest and took a shower after returning to the hotel. We were planning to go to Flightless Bird for dinner, drinks, and massages but it’s no longer in that location. There’s a construction going on. Since we already walked that far, we decided to settle at the cafe next to it, which is called Like Coffee.
I was greeted by this cat, who’s super cuuuuute! The menu in Like Coffee is quite limited, so we ordered this banh mi, that’s totally not simple. It’s so extra! Hahaha! It was funny though, cause we were looking at the English menu, then all of a sudden, it was snatched from us and replaced with a Vietnamese one. We had to explain that we’re not from there and we need the English menu. LOL. When travelling in Southeast Asia, this happens a lot but this is by far the funniest one. It took us a while to finish our food cause it was huge!
We called it a night after dinner cause our bus going back to Haiphong the next morning will leave at 8am.
DAY 5: CATBA -> HAIPHONG -> SAIGON
It was our last day in CatBa and I was able to take a walk around. I finally saw the sunrise at Catba Sunrise Resort! (Maybe that’s why it’s named like that LOL)
I was also able to climb the stairs in our hostel, which gives you a good view of the bay. I was actually quite scared of climbing up and down cause there’s nothing to hold on to and my legs felt weak from the previous days’ activities. But I was able to get down unscathed 🙂
Time for some weather report LOL
Then, it was back at the hostel to take a shower and prepare to leave. We had time for breakfast before we asked the receptionist to call a green car for us, which will take us to the pickup point. The bus then took us to the pier, rode the boat, and then took another bus. We arrived at Cat Bi International Airport in Haiphong in one piece! The Hadeco bus was supposed to take us to Ben Binh, then we were supposed to take a taxi from there to the airport. But when we got to this rotonda where we saw that it’s just one straight road going to the airport, we decided to get off and asked people around the way to the airport. Good thing there’s a supermarket in the area and there were taxis waiting outside. The taxi driver was also not a scammer – he used the meter! I really trust pink taxis. We saved half the taxi fare – love it! So if you’re planning to take this route and going to the airport, have Google Maps open so you know when to get off. It will save you money and time, trust me.
We got there really early but then that’s so much better than cramming, worrying if you’ll make your flight or not. Actually, the hotel staff suggested that we take the 10am bus, but then based on my estimate, it will be cutting in too close. The perfect time to leave is 9am, but there’s no such schedule so we went with 8am.
We were at the Cat Bi Airport for quite a long time because aside from being early, our flight was delayed! We were supposed to leave at 1:10 pm but I think it got delayed for over an hour. This is one of the most stressful flights I’ve ever been on. I’m just not going to elaborate on it anymore, so as not to offend anyone.
We booked an Uber to Giang Son 2 Hotel, which is in the Pham Ngu Lao area. We splurged a little bit here and I must say that this a good hotel. The location is good and there’s a television in the room – finally! Haha! I lost one of my shirts when we moved on our third day (after Edline) left. I told the girl at the reception about it and they were able to find it through their cleaners. That’s pretty amazing. They also helped us with booking our Mekong Delta tour, and nice enough to pack our breakfast to go. The only downside though is the stairs. Hahaha. See, we were already on our 5th day of travelling when we arrived in HCMC and our legs are pretty tired. Our room was on the 3rd floor and it was such a pain going up and down. On our last day, we requested for a room on a lower floor, 2nd floor is not too bad. LOL.
Celine arrived in HCMC at around 9pm and while waiting for her, Edline and I decide to start our shopping. Also because she’s leaving the next evening. We visited Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Post office first before walking to Saigon Square. It was almost closing time and we’re a little disappointed because there’s really not much to choose from and it’s not very cheap. We then walked to Saigon Centre, which is just right next to it. It’s a more luxurious shopping mall. Great for photo ops though. I really wanted to take photos at Takashimaya but we were kind of in a hurry. I think though it’s a good place to chill if you want to take a break from tourist-ing. There are coffee shops at the basement, where the supermarket is. I think I would compare it to Central at Bonfacio High Street, where the Marketplace is. Hahaha. Since we weren’t able to get any shopping done, we decided to walk to Ben Thanh Market instead.
So Ben Thanh Market is like 168 Mall during the day but then when that place closes, the stalls outside on the street opens so it’s like a night market. There’s an area for shopping and there’s an area with tables and food stalls in case you get hungry or just in the mood for some street food. I just bought some soft pants here, which I used when we went to Angkor Wat. Since it’s a popular place for tourists, I think some of the stuff are overpriced, but there are some stalls where you can haggle to the max.
After doing some shopping, we went back to the hotel and waited for Celine. We only went out when Celine finally arrived! They had to do some currency exchange so we went to Bui Vien Street. We were told that there’s a Western Union there so off we went. Ohmigoodness, I was so not prepared for the craziness. You can barely walk on the streets cause there were too many people and the tables of the bars are already occupying the streets. I cannot believe there are still vehicles passing through. It was a little bit stressful cause man, it was noisy. Not even halfway through, we have decided we’d like to go somewhere else more peaceful.
Finally with Celine!
We were able to find a restaurant on a street adjacent to Bui Vien. It was thankfully still open cause I think it was already 11pm at the time.