Our entire itinerary for the day involved getting back to Hanoi, so the early rise was necessary though not appreciated! Breakfast at the hotel was fairly pleasant. Nice and light: scrambled eggs, bread and tea.
Loi herded us all into the waiting minibus and we headed back to the port and onto the small vessel that had brought us to Cat Ba. The weather was much better than the previous day and I just sunned myself on the top deck, towel for a pillow as we made our way to where we’d kayaked the day before. Upon arrival, our boat re-watered from a floating concrete ship. Floating. Concrete. Weird.
We then waited until another larger boat appeared, similar to the one on which we’d begun our journey. People were swapped (those on that tour who were doing the extra day) and we headed back on the 2-hour stretch to Ha Long Bay. Lunch was served on board and again was cracking grub. It was also nice to have a loo that flushed. Luxury!
The final 4-hour drive back to Hanoi was broken up with a short toilet break at another café where I encountered the cutest kitten ever. The poor thing was really vocal and curled up round my feet when I tried to walk away after petting him. I crouched down and he clambered onto my knee. Loi told me I could take him if I wanted – a gift from Vietnam! “Cats are free”, he told me. Tempting though it was, I couldn’t really look after a kitten for a few weeks while travelling and Vietnamese law prohibits import and export of live animals anyway. *sigh*
Finally, we made it back to Ocean’s offices where Jennifer, her partner, Andy and I all signed up for the Sa Pa tour that Kate and Dale were already going on. 3 days/4 nights up to the mountains. Quite a difference from all the water we’d seen over the last 3 days. The trip includes a lot of hiking, climbing and a motorbike ride; two nights’ travel on the train; one night hotel and one night staying with a family in a village.
With the set-off time being 8:30 the next evening, we were glad we’d be able to see the Chelsea / ManU game as it was an early kickoff. Then realised that it was Saturday already…
Back to the hostel and the helpful staff directed us to two places nearby showing the footie. We opted for dinner at the Hanoi Tower bar, Jaspa’s. A little pricey, but nice Thai-style beef salad as we watched Chelsea thump the Reds to take the Premiership.
A short walk took us to the Funky Monkey bar where I watched us play like crap and draw 0-0 at Birmingham City. The beer was still a little pricey by Hanoi standards here, but even the Bia Hoi place round the corner was after 4000 Dong, about twice the usual price. We headed hostelwards to pack up for the next day and sort washing out.