Lan Ha Bay
According to the weather report today was supposed to be the only day of the 6 we were on Cat Ba that it would actually be sunny. Wrong! The sun emerged from the cloud cover for about 3 seconds then retired. Still, we decided to go kayaking.
We got motor taxis from the guy who owns the restaurant next door to the hotel, and one of his friends, who spend the day playing games and smoking a bamboo pipe in front of his restaurant. I should add that when we eat there (almost all the time) the food and service are both excellent.) Ben Beo is a little port with a couple hotels and floating restaurants. It is kind of an extension to Cat Ba town, over the hill, and since a short road connects it to Cat Ba town it is faster to boat there (if coming from Halong Bay) and then take a motor taxi into town.
We rented kayaks from a floating restaurant and paddled through the floating village. We'd been through it a couple times already. Dogs raced out of the houses and stood on the wooden walkways barking impotently-- unable to attack. Sometimes we'd see splashes or fish fins surface in the fish pens. Eager to get out of the crowded area we slipped into a non-populated section of the bay. Here everything became quiet. Our voices echoed against the limestone cliffs. Birds called and the waves rippled against the kayak. We drifted for a bit enjoying the peace. The inlet had one other boat, a fishing boat. The woman paddled while the man adjusted the nets. We emerged into another section of the village then skirted the edge of rock islets around a fish farm to another secluded lagoon. There was a little shrine made in the rocks from some flowers and red candles.
Shrine on the rocks
Interesting rock formations
It was a brief respite from the crowds and a little taste of the image I had in my head of Halong Bay (though we were actually in Lan Ha bay). But, soon our arms were tired so we headed back.