Cat Ba: natural park, limestone rocks archipelago and caves.

Dear explorers, after some inland exploration now it is time to switch into a different landscape of Vietnam, so I moved from the inland to the island of Cat Ba by travelling over night from Sapa town.

I want to start by saying that May is not the ‘ideal’ month for the weather conditions, as I arrived on the island an early-morning rain greeted me, however it didn’t bother me much, no matter what the weather, it will always be a riveting challenge! Here below you can look at a picture from my accommodation in the centre and an overview map of the island itself.

View from the main street in Cat Ba

My main desire was to go for a two-days trip which covered off the visit to the national park by ending up at the Viet farm village and then get transferred to a boat to reach a floating home-stay to sleep overnight, and then continue on the second day with a boat trip including kayaking and few secluded spots such as caves and lagoon, the tour agent is Cat Ba Green trail, here below I share the link to the trip schedule in detail: https://www.catbagreentrail.com/plan-your-trip/2-day-tour/17-cat-ba-national-park-lan-ha-bay-ha-long-bay-2-days-1-night-trekking-cycling-kyaking-swimming-tour.html

However, because of the rainy weather and that the previous day was 1st of May bank holiday their office was closed and nobody signed up in advance for such a trip. As a result, I got to flexibly adjust my action plan: I rented a motorbike for the first day to explore the natural park on my own and later on the second day I joined their one-day tour which I link it below: https://www.catbagreentrail.com/plan-your-trip/1-day-tour/14-lan-ha-bay-ha-long-bay-monkey-island-boat-tour.html

In spite of the grey clouds and the light rain, the passing scenery was generous. Look at below:

Once arrived at he national park the terrains were rather wet, however the visit was still worthy 101% and to cap it all the top view point is simply spectacular no matter what the weather is, it just requires some great willingness to trek up to there 🙂

After enjoying such a panorama, since the entrance ticket included also a visit to the Trung Trang caves, I headed straight there and I really was surprised how long the cave was all the way through. Few pictures will be available later on Flickr.

The next day started early, at 7:00am I gathered at the Cat Ba Green trail office with other participants, we were fourteen of us, the right number to be all in-pair when kayaking! Since the very beginning the tour guide was very professional as well as humorous and well-mannered: he explained all us few basic things about the tour such as the importance of starting at 7:30am which was on the purpose to avoid the rushing (usually all the other tours start at 8:00am). We got on the boat from the Beo pier, and the first hour of shipping was just spent chilling and take some photos.

After that, our tour guide approached us and started telling about his life story, how he ran the business and then told us some historical background of La Han Bay as well as Ha Long Bay, as he was mentioning us such detail, the boat was approaching the first floating houses and so he also told us more about people living in such places. Here below I have linked the video about the passing landscape bay:

Surrounding scenery from the boat

The more the boat was sailing, more floating houses were all around, out tour guide mentioned that those houses are usually set up close to the big rocks in order to be safely repaired from the storms of high waves coming through, moreover for those people in order to be settled there they had to get a permission from the state; finally the ones who have children, they send them to a school close to the harbour by a private boat each day and on the way back to the floating house they also have to wait for the scheduled private boat. See below few pictures about the floating village(s).

After getting over the floating village, we approached the area of the caves (dark, bat and bright cave), here we started the kayaking session by first getting off the boat at a small jetty to get into the kayak, that was my third time kayaking in my life, even I struggled a bit at the beginning in keeping the kayak straight I managed not to flip it over 😀

After kayaking, the boat shortly stop at a dive snorkeling point where there were also some harmless jellyfishes, however because of the weather the view of seabed was rather disappointing, all lasted very few minutes. Finally, we had lunch with served food on the boat was really delicious, congrats to the sailors! And just pity that I did not take any picture of the buffet!

The next destination for the afternoon was Monkeys’ island, by the time we arrived there were some flashes of sunshine which made the landscapes looking with more vivid colours as well as brighty. It was time for some rock-climbing by using the hands (not with the ropes). All of us climbed up to the top viewpoint to enjoy the sunshiny part of the trip.

Finally, the name itself monkeys’ island, Yes, monkey were there at the bottom among the trees jumping around, we did not miss chance to record some of them who indeed played some naughty games, see the pictures below:

In conclusion, the one-day trip was fairly enough with a professional and friendly tour guide, I just cannot remember his name, however you can check their website for any other available tour (the ink is at the bottom). Just be aware that favorable weather conditions in the island are on October-November and March-April, after that rains are frequent, but if you are not that paranoid then you’ll enjoy the Cat Ba experience regardless the weather 😉

For further details about their tours just refer to their web page: https://www.catbagreentrail.com/about-us/contact-us.html

Any remark and comments are warmly welcomed!

Giuseppe

Langkawi: one day spent on the waterfalls by facing troubles with the wild monkeys

One day later than the riveting kayaking experience that I described in my previous article, at a good morning time I went for the Temurun waterfalls which are situated in the north-west side of the island, although the way to get there might seem long and juicy I had no rush since after the kayaking this was just a chilling trip with some hiking involved 🙂

I arrived first at a sport which was characterized by red rocks and some water pools both at the bottom and top side of the rocks as shown below:

DSC04737

Being an attractive spot, I stop by, and I took some pictures of the scenery with the rocks on the left side of the road, meanwhile some monkeys were nearby among the rocks, they looked like they were just woke up from sleeping therefore hungry and seeking for food as they usually do over the morning time, they were moving around and me as a keen of recording ‘wild animals in action’, I started shooting some pictures as they were getting close; one of them came to the edge of the road, still I couldn’t resist in doing further practice by zooming in my lens to make a proper foreground for him so that I slightly stepped away from the motorbike I rode and guess what next?  He targeted the motorbike by jumping into it, so that he gave me a further chance to take one more picture of him sitting on the saddle of the motorbike! 😀

So far, everything may just look like funny and harmless, but as he jumped out of the motorbike he turned out with a funny and unpleasant joke, guess what?

He ripped off my smartphone which I accidentally left placed on the open slot-pockets of the motorbike, I’d have never imagined they would have grabbed my smartphone by believing that it was something eatable :O

My first reaction to such a funny ripping was to call the attention of the monkey to convince him to give up the booty, however there was nothing to do and instead he was turning into an aggressive way by showing off his teeth like to say ‘Do not dare to step into me otherwise I’ll bite you!’. Unfortunately there were no natural weapons to hunt him 😀 , moreover one more monkey joined the thief monkey so I was in minority, all I could do was to let them to go and hopefully he’d have left the smartphone somewhere on the red rocks! Our healthy life is always more important than a ripped smartphone, perhaps not all of us are aware of the fact that if bitten by a monkey you might get the HIV virus so now everybody knows it 😉

As a last but not the least attempt, I asked for help to an american guy who was by change riding down on the road, he didn’t think twice to support me, moreover he was very-skilled in climbing up and down through the red rocks, he managed to find the closed-cover of my smartphone but without it! OMG! They must have frighted hardly for my smartphone…unfortunately there was no track of the smartphone, so there wasn’t anything else the kind US guy could do for me 😦 and the monkeys were run away into upper-level jungle surrounding the rocks. I felt there was really nothing to do, on the other hand it wasn’t the end of the world.

In order to release myself from what happened, I went through the path of the waterfalls and I continued my photo-tour as best as I could, here below some amazing pictures:

After cooling down myself, I wanted to attempt again to look for my smartphone, this time I found at the red rock spot a local malay guy Gurkha who were stopping there by his motorbike, so I approached him to ask for some assistance, the goal was to get through the jungle where the monkeys ran away, however it didn’t appear to be feasible because there were lot’s of bushes and brambles spread-ed which made the jungle impenetrable for humans :O At this point, I decided to give it up and forget. So I smoothly finished my half-day trip and headed to the small town where I stayed in Langkawi and I bought a brand-new smartphone.

In conclusion, waterfalls scenery is always amazing, you’ll never regret it! When it comes to the wild monkeys in action the story changes: perhaps I was a naive, however I have seen many of them over my past journeys into the South-East Asia, but the ones I met in Langkawi are really aggressive and they pick-up everything what they find.

The learned lesson is: Never step away from your motorbike even shortly for just two meters by leaving any unattended valuable stuff when there are wild monkeys in action, they will attempt to rip off whatever they find on the front slot-pockets of your motorbike what exactly happened to me!

Short version: NEVER TRUST THE MONKEYS!

Everybody is welcomed to comment on it!

Giuseppe