After a night sleeping on our boat, we got up and had breakfast on the deck before sailing into the harbor on Cat Ba island. From the harbor we took a bus for 40 minutes to the otherwise of the island where we boarded a smaller boat and set sail for Monkey Island.
On the way to the island we passed another floating village however this time it was about ten times the size of the last one and all the houses had their own fish farm accompanied by 2-3 dogs to keep the fish safe. It was amazing to think that these tiny houses on the water were home to families, there was even a floating school for the children! Mental! The village is one of the biggest floating villages in the area with around 500 residents. Overhead Andy spotted a sea hawk and as we looked it started a mid-air fight with what looked like a crow, was quite a cool spectacle to see!
20 minutes later we reached a secluded beach that would be our home for the next day. Only our group was on the island along with one family so about 20 people all up… it was so quiet, calm and peaceful!
We got checked into our private bungalows which were situated right on the beach so you could hear the waves lapping onto the shore from your room. It was a lovely room and much, much better than we had anticipated!
We headed to lunch at the restaurant and had an amazing hot-pot style lunch (when there is a giant pot of water on a burner and you add
vegetables, meat and noodles to the water) followed by fresh fruit. We had some free time to explore or chill out. Whilst most of our group headed for the sun loungers, Andy and I set off to do the two hikes on the island. The first one took us up to a pagoda which gave us 360 degree views of the area, it was breathtaking!!
As I have said a hundred times before the views are just unbelievable! The pagoda was under construction as there was no floor to the bottom only loose wooden slates laid out over the metal beams, this wouldn’t be a problem usually, however if you fell or lost your footing you would fall about 50 meters down a very ragged cliff into the rocks and sea below! We got pictures while I clung onto Andy in fear he would lean too far and the whole thing would topple over and decided to head down after only a couple of minutes not wanting to tempt fate any more!
Once back down we headed to the other side of the beach to the second hike which was about double the size of the last one. As we started walking up it was clear that the route had not been prepped yet for the season as we had
to climb over and under trees and branches and at one point climbing up a mud wall because a section of the path was to covered in thick vines, unlike the last walk which was out in the open this one was through the forest which meant the humidity levels hit the roof and sweat started pouring out of us from the exertion of the steep climb mixed with humidity. Once at the top we were not even rewarded for our endeavors as the trees had become so overgrown it was impossible to see anything!!!! Feeling a bit deflated and hot, we headed back down the hill which was almost as hard as going up and went straight in the sea to cool off, the water was lovely and cool and just what we needed!!!
We showered and headed back to meet the group to head round to see the wild monkeys over the other side of the island. If we thought the last climb was hard it was nothing compared to this! It was more of a scramble as we had to climb over rocks, pull ourselves up and climb under tree branches all while going up a steep ‘path’. Once at the top we then had to come back down the other side until we reached another secluded beach.
The minute we stepped onto the beach a male monkey came out if nowhere and strode straight up to our group. These monkeys were not the friendly
type we had come across in Thailand or Cambodia and as one girl tried to get a picture he lunged for her trying to take her water! The guide shooed him away and we continued on. In the trees you could see more monkeys jumping around with two tiny baby monkeys trying to learn to climb and jump through the trees, one of them actually fell from the top of the tree to the floor but seemed to be okay afterwards!! Just as i was taking a picture the first monkey suddenly ran for me and I sprinted down the beach to get away screaming like a little girl! I felt like I was in the Hunger Games when they have to run away from the crazed monkeys!!! Andy went up to the abandoned building to have a look only to be trapped by a monkey when trying to get back down the stairs! The guide told us that there are around 20 monkeys including the two babies and are completely wild.
They stay on their side of the island as the resort has dogs to keep them on
their side. Asking if they ever come over as obviously there is loads of food at the resort, the guide laughed and said if they ever come over there is a big fight between the dogs and the monkeys… luckily they do not cross paths often! It was awesome to see them although if you go here just keep your distance and don’t take too much with you as they tried to steal Andy’s bag and hat along with people’s camera and juice.
We stayed for about half an hour and then started to hike back, feeling like we needed another shower by then.
We got back to our bungalow and chilled out on the balcony with a constant ‘HELLO!!’ from our next door neighbors who had 2 small boys! There was only so many times you could say hello back… although he did surprise us as when we were leaving he actually said ‘goodbye!!’ even if his younger brother still stuck with ‘hello!’
As the sun began to set we headed for our buffet BBQ dinner with the rest of the group where we even had a cheeky cocktail. It on the roof with beautiful views and we have bookmarked the island as a possible long weekend getaway as it is only 50 minutes by speedboat from Hai Phong!!
We went back to our bungalow and both fell into a deep sleep thanks to the exercise! We still had to get up early the next day as we had to get a small boat back to Cat Ba, a bus to the port, a small boat to our big boat, a bus to the bus station, a big bus to Hai Phong and a taxi to our new apartment… we made it!!!
There are loads of tours you can do around Ha Long, the one that we did I cannot recommend enough. It was a small group and the $129 paid for all your meals, accommodation and travel so the only expense you had was drinks! It was a perfect end to a mammoth 2 month excursion!