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: a riveting kayaking experience to watching the red eagles at Klim Geopark.

It was a Saturday morning during my stay  on Langkawi when I went to one of my favorite place for a Malay-style break fast with a Roti Telur and a black tea, I sat on table in which on the opposite side there was a Swedish guy Adam, I really didn’t think twice to sit down close to him since it could have been potential chance for socializing instead being on my own, even not sure  whether he wanted to do so he was the one approaching me first. As we were disclosing some facts with each other, the guy came up with the spontaneous question: “Do you have any plans for today?”

My answer: “Well, I have in mind to visit some waterfalls but it’s just a small plan”

His counter-answer(offer): “would you like to join me for kayaking?”

My answer: “Well, why not, I can postpone my trip to the waterfalls, long time is been spent since last time I kayaked, just I’d need to pack my stuff”

Still, the guy wasn’t pretty sure whether I could have participated, so he phoned the tour organizer (Mangrove tour at Klim Geopark) who confirmed to Adam that there was one more place for me, so I didn’t hesitate to switch my plans and get ready for such a challenge which I didn’t consider it at all and I was provided with the needed basic equipment, moreover it was one more great chance for a new Go-Pro recording session.

The guy who organized the tour picked us up by car and brought us to the starting point for our riveting trip. Once on the place we met with three girls from Singapore which were with us on the kayaking trip, they said they never experienced before, however that wasn’t a problem if I consider I kayaked only one time about four years ago!

We were six of us altogether by including the ranger guy who leaded us for the right path to the eagles bay. As first, we got to kayak through a watered swamp which looked apparently insidious but in fact it was nothing scary then especially when comparing with my last kayaking trip which was made on a river with lot’s of downfalls and spread-ed rocks 🙂 At one point the ranger just warned us about the fact that a part of the swamp is dangerous for swimming because of the 70% of chances to end up swimming with the piranhas :O . However, we didn’t see any and we kept enjoying our paddling job as best as we could!

Here below there’s the video of the first and most impressive part of the Kayaking session:

We had a break half-way to the Eagles bay to let other kayak to pass on their way back, then we continued till our final stop. The surrounding landscape with the cliffs was simply breathtaking and moreover it was impressive to observe the way how the red eagles fluttered around from the top till the bottom, they were seeking for food and not far from us there was a boat which was feeding them so they got attracted, ‘unfortunately’ I did not carry on the waterproof box my professional camera since I was afraid of the water splashes which could have damaged the display so I just tried to take some pics by using my smartphone in addition to the GoPro.

Here below there’s the video at the Eagles bay, it must be watched carefully 😉

After such a great Eagles show, we started kayaking back to the starting point, at one point the ranger adviced us a spot in the swamp for enjoying some swim and dive jump from a horizontal trunk tree as shown on the GoPro shoots below.

We had enough fun with that, just a pity that the seabed was not clear, but it’s okay we couldn’t have everything perfect!

Once we were back to the starting point, we were provided with a lunch package including some refreshments as well, unfortunately here I don’t have any picture to show you because my (old) smartphone get ripped off by a monkey on waterfall trip next day, I will save your energy from understanding what exactly happened but instead I’ll talk about that on my next article 😉

Still the trip itself was not completely over, just kayaking session was over! As we were done with the lunch, we were brought by boat to visit some caves nearby. At the arrival we were greeted by a cute monkey going around and probably seeking for food as usual here! The landscape surrounding the caves is mostly swampy with plenty of bushes, however the caves themselves were not so impressive overall, if you consider that in my home-country Italy there are much bigger caves than this one, anyway it still deserves to be shown with few amazing pictures:

In conclusion, although I prefer more individual tours, the guided tour at kayaking at Klim Geopark turned out a unique experience which must be enjoyed since Langkawi itself is more about exploration in the wild nature than swimming and diving, besides that, the Mangrove tour guy himself knows how to arrange the tour by showing a great sense-of-humor which is very important to convey to people who want to enjoy kayaking on a wild great surrounding nature. Even the price of 220MYR (almost 50€) may seem high, it is worth every single ringgit, if we consider we were provided with a nice refreshing small lunch after kayaking and then they brought us to visit the caves, such a trip nicely suits for a Saturday trip on Langkawi. Definitely recommended!

For more informations about their activities you can check on their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/croctravelslangkawi/

Last thing but not the least, a special thank to Adam who tagged me along this amazing trip otherwise I’d never have thought of kayaking on Langkawi :O

Every comment and concern is welcomed!

Giuseppe