Cat Ba seemed to be the best place to go after the long, listless December.
Last January, I went to Cat Ba for two things: cycling and writing.
Cycling was not a great idea. While I found a smooth, well-sized bike, my legs' capacity wouldn't take me through the uphill roads. I had to push my bike several times.
With that said, going around will be easier by motorbike.
Writing was the better thing to do.
I wrote about the year that flew by, the last time love waved at me quietly, and the few people I've known for a few months who are starting to become family.
Being in Cat Ba made me think about why writers are not the easiest people to be with. That idea eventually became a piece entitled "Never Date A Writer". You will see that later on another website.
Coming from my home here in Hanoi, I took a bus from a tour agency's office. I booked my bus ride from this website.
From the first bus stop, I hopped onto a boat going to the island itself - that took about 20 minutes. After getting off the boat, I took another bus that brought me to my hotel.
Back in January, the island wasn't packed but had a considerable number of tourists. It was too cold so I skipped all the tours.
Sand and sea
A must-visit is Tung Thu Beach - public but hidden. Perfect for an afternoon of staring out into the sea.
On the other side of the island are the Cat Co beaches.
Coming from Cat Co 1, you have to hike a flight of stairs, stop and take in the view (not bad) to get to Cat Co 3. That walk was tiring, peaceful, and impressively beautiful.
Other things to do
From here, you can take the famous Ha Long Bay cruise. You may also take their half-day or full-day tours around the island, visiting smaller islands, and fishing villages.
Vegetarians and vegans will have no difficulty in finding food options. Try to avoid the Vietnamese restaurants across the beach. They're the most expensive local food I've seen so far.
Cafes are abundant, as it is everywhere here in Vietnam.