Cat Ba Island.......
It's always interesting when a friend comes to visit (ESPECIALLY for me.....twelve time-zones away from everything that I know, that a visit from a friend just does amazing things for my well being). You tend to actually GO to neat places nearby your home that you'd never visit on any ordinary day! Like, how many of us in Buffalo actually GO to Niagara Falls? How many of us in Denver actually GO to Nederland? And, in Portland, how many of us go to Bend?
Cat Ba Island is one of those places - technically, it IS ruled under the jurisdiction of the Hai Phong City/District People's Committee (because it's only 90 minutes away by "fast boat"/180 minutes away by "slow boat"/30 minutes away by "swimming" from Hai Phong)....BUT - with air that can actually be breathed, water that appears safe to actually wade into, and an astounding lack of concrete....it couldn't be more night and day when compared to Hai Phong City proper.
So my friend Anthony flew in from Scotland (after a four-day stop in Siem Reap/Angkor Wat, Cambodia) and was fully expecting to fall in love with Viet Nam.
Landing in Hanoi in the middle of the 1000th anniversary of the city's founding gala and it being similar to Times Square on New Year's Eve with wall-to-wall-to-wall-to-wall humanity and the airport shuttle bus driver declaring - "OK....me not go further. Too much crowd! Everybody out here!" about a good 2 miles from our hotel and THEN finding that the brand new unused SIM card that I gave him (that I bought ten months ago and never once used) refused to function (oops!) and not having a clue WHERE exactly he is in one on thee most bizarre street layouts in the world, followed by being badgered by everybody for "Motobike! Motobike?" "Massa? Massa? Boom-Boom? Boom-boom?" "Me get you hotel with special price!" all day every day QUICKLY soured his views on Vietnam.
Now, I really despise ANY large city in Vietnam (Da Nang being the only possible exception, 'cause it doesn't feel or act like a large Vietnamese city) and I ONLY use places like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to escape the skull-crushing boredom that IS life in Hai Phong......but, man - coming from Siem Reap and the Cambodian Countryside straight into Hanoi hell.......that hadta be a bit of a shock!
Anyways, he found the hotel, and he took a train to meet me five days later in Hai Phong. Helped me do a few classes ('cause the kids always love to see a new Tay, especially one as enthusiastic as Anthony is, 'cause the Tay generally avoid Hai Phong), and he really got to enjoy Hai Phong!
So, on his last coupla days here, he really wanted to see Halong Bay.....so we headed out to Cat Ba Island!
Anthony with my friend and fellow English Teacher, Mrs. Hien
A lake on the interior of Cat Ba Island
View of Halong Bay from Cat Ba Town beach number 1
Hidden Pagoda along a road (if you can call it that) on Cat Ba Island
....and, about a mile past the pagoda, we were told by workmen intentionally creating rockslides (kinda like how they do avalanche control in the Rocky Mountain West) that we hadta turn back.
So we turned around, took a different road, and saw some cool rice paddies.....
....and a piglet parade.
The Beautiful Game - Vietnam Countryside style!
Fishing vessels along the shore - Cat Ba Island
....but I have been performing acts of Social Evil since 1968!
Still, though - that'd be a great name for a band: "Acts of Social Evil"
Travel time over.....back to work.....more soon.....