Cat Ba Island.. Hanoi, Vientam

Viet Tips:

Rowing a boat with his feet
  • Be careful crossing the street. It has minimal regulations and can be bit scary at times.
  • The traditional hats in Vietnam are everywhere, it is so interesting that they are still very much part of their everyday life.
  • The seafood, Bánh  sandwhiches and pho is incredible there.. i think I could live off vietnamese food forever. Vietnamese is definately still one of my favorite types of foods.
  • It is common for people to row with their feet on boats! How Interesting to see!
Mystery fruit lady with her ancient measuring scale

We left for hanoi very early in the morning and boy were we tired.

Then the lines at the airport were quite inefficient so we were in customs for maybe an hr.. and turns out hanoi was only 15 C (60 F) and cloudy.. I brought a light sweater.. so it was a bit cold!
But after customs we got cash, took the local bus to the city, picked up some mysterious street fruit. dropped our bags at the hotel and went to see the Han Lo Prison. The prison was very interesting, while also quite sad. The suffering and injustices these people faced were heartbreaking to learn all about. After the time it was used as a prison I learned that this place was built by the Spanish and actually housed USA pilots during the Vietnam war.
Following we visited the Temple of Literature this place has beautiful gardens and turtle statues. Finally we saw the Moselim, which was quite underwhelming surrounded by construction.
Before having a fancy dinner at a rooftop bar johannes arranged for us, we got beef noodle soup 🍜  and relaxed a bit at the hotel.
I started my day at 2am to register for courses, which went terrible since I forgot to take into consideration the time difference from Singapore to i woke up an hour too early and then half my classes were locked since I hadn’t been able to contact my advisor for over two weeks.
Hidden Valley
But regardless we got breakfast at the hotel and headed to Cat Ba Island, where would go rock climbing! It took 4 hours in total, bus, boat, bus and when we arrived we immediately went to a climbing area called hidden valley.
There was nothing too hard there, but we spent the afternoon flashing 6b/c. The lines were very beautiful and most flowed well, even if it wasn´t really a challenge.
That night we ate at the dolphin restaurant and we had 2 pho, a shake, spring rolls, 2 desert pancakes and vegetables for under $4USD/person. It was really quite nice!
Ok. I have thought about going deep water solo (DWS) for a long time. DWS is a form of climbing in which we do not use mats or ropes for protection. We only drop off into the water deep when we are finished (yes, we went ONLY to established areas where they do extenisive checks to see if there are any rocks.)
Early in the morning we got breakfast and it was so slow we were almost late to our tour.
That day we went out with a guide, Raffele -from Itay, Richard-from England and Mr.Zoom´s (the owner) nephew Kaid.
We took a van to the harbor and then got on this tiny personal boat with the 5 of us and the driver. To do this we went did not go to Ha Long Bay, but rather its smaller neighbor Lan Ha Bay. It was absolutely incredible. On our tiny personal boat we passed by many floating villages and fish farms where people MUST take their boats to leave their homes and get anywhere. We stay a floating supermarket filled with household goods and big ships that hauled in fish near the floating town.
The experience was incredible and a huge rush, but honestly I think it is a bit dangerous for me. Cliff jumping a lot from almost 30 ft is quite dangerous if you do it even slightly wrong and knowing that I will just get more fragile as I get older… I am not so stoked to get back out DWS. However, I really wanted to do it once in my life and what a better place than Lan Ha Bay when I´m still young!

After DWS, we returned to the Cat Ba Climbing office and had lunch with Raffaele and Kaid. It was very simple and quite generous of them to feed us too!

Later that night, we got more Pho, went to get massages and bought fruit (passion fruit and bananas) from the local food stands. I was not sure what the passion fruit was when I bought it.. but it was delilous.

Butterfly Valley

Sunday, we took it easy in the morning got breakfast in town and then brought along sandwhiches for lunch on the go to maximize our climbing time. Today we went to an area called Butterfly Valley and I really enjoyed it. This cliff was located in the middle of private property, as all places are on Cat Ba Island, and it was so fun to walk through a little farm and climb above to look out onto livestock grazing in the field.

While we climbed that day, we had the pleasure of climbing with a few australian guys, a british guy and even one from colombus ohio.
Hot Pot Dinner for 2

Throughout the day we did a variety of really fun climbing, two of the hardest routes we did being Obama 101 7a, Buffalo Love 7a+.

After we got a large hot pot dinner, got some delicious dragon fruit and called it a night.
Today we took transit back to Hanoi from Cat Ba Island, but not before wondering through the crowded and very underdeveloped local markets.
Although Cat Ba Town is very much a tourist destination I found it very striking that right along side the touristy loud bar with good food, pool and flashing lights there were six construction workers covered in mud eating with their hands in makeshift bowls all huddled on a 5 by 8ft wooden shelter.
CatBa Pier
When we arrived back in Hanoi we dropped off our things at the hotel and went out to see the city a little more. We went to the temple on the lake in the Old Quarter, we went to see the ancient house, did some souvenir shopping and then we  got lots of food before heading back.
We got dragon fruit, Vietnamese traditional desert with coconut and these delicious dumpling like rice cake things called “Bahn Cuon.” It was incredible delicious.


Streets of Hanoi
Finally, we were woke up tuesday to head back to Singapore. We bought our Bánh  lunch and took a taxi to the airport. I did presentation prep for a presentation at 1900 (7pm) that night.
We arrived in Singapore, went straight to the library and I did my presentation prep/class all night.
Side note:
As incredible as all this traveling is, it is easy to forget how hard it can be especially with finals looming over your head.
Apparently as of Sept 4, the US can only get year visas so there goes $165 USD 😑 Just my luck *shakes head.*

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary says:

    As we have said before, it’s good to inform your mom of some things AFTER the fact. You are amazing.


    1. shafe0071 says:

      I know (: AFTER is best! Can’t wait to share with you all these experience.


  2. Rita Tobin says:

    HI Maggie I get exhausted just reading about what you have done.
    I don’t know where you get your energy….but you do mention eating good food often……….Keep having fun….Good luck with your classes and presentations…….Look forward to seeing you in person…..Hugs Rita


  3. Rita Tobin says:

    Hi Maggie…..I visited your mom and dad this past week-end and had a fun time hearing about their trip seeing you and Australia. Now I hear you are heading to Laos and Cambodia. The most beautiful area in Laos is in the northern country….where the Hmong came from. The place to see is
    Luang Probang…..which was once the royal capitol where the king and queen lived before the communist take over. It is mountainous …the city full of awesome Buddhist Monasteries and temples. I wish I were with you.
    When you fly into Vientiane and go to town you will drive right by the
    house I lived in on the way from the airport; I lived right next to a Buddhist
    monastery. I heard the monks chanting every morning and night before I went to bed. It was wonderful….. Have a great trip and take LOTS of pictures in Laos. It has changed so much since I was there in 1973 and 1974.
    There was one western type hotel……which had the only elevator in
    Vientiane…..which did not have air conditioning I might add. It got up to
    120 degrees and was soooooooo hot. My bedroom at night cooled down
    to 100 degrees…….all I had was a ceiling fan. It was HOT. Well, I can’t wait to hear all your travel tales……..Have a great time before you return home;
    Love Auntie Rita


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