I could’ve been predictable with my song choice and picked a Monkees one, I also quite fancied a couple of songs with monkeys in the video but in the end I had to choose one of my favourites from a Sheffield band. I heard this covered by a very young Thai band in Bangkok late last year and it reminds me of my home city every time I hear it.
We awoke feeling surprisingly ok and even managed a trip to Titop Island. It’s a small Island in Ha Long Bay which was named by Ho Chi Minh (Uncle Ho) in 1962 after an astronaut, Ghermann Titov, who’d been a hero from the Soviet Union.
We arrived early and the weather was overcast and certainly not warm enough for a dip in the sea or even a sit on the beach so we set off to climb to the top of the hill on the island to get some views. Mom got so far and had to turn back while the three of us battled with the groups of impatient tourists to get to the top, take photos and get back down.
We then got picked up by another boat and headed for the pearl farms for a look at how the pearls are made and obviously to have a browse around the shop. It was an interesting trip and there were no hard-sell staff which made the look round the shop very relaxed.
After 2 nights on our Ha Long Bay cruise we were off to stay at the Monkey Island Resort not too far from Cat Ba. The place is set on its own island where one side is inhabited by monkeys. We got off the boat for an hour or so to watch the monkeys being fed, as well as watching them help themselves to customers’ snacks from any bags they had. They had their eyes on our beers but only managed to make off with a can of coke while the bar man had his back turned.
At Monkey Island we checked in – Chrissy & I in to a standard twin bamboo hut, set in the gardens not far from the beach, my parents in a rather swish beach front villa. Dad was the only one to swim in the sea (I still had my fleece on) but we all did manage a lounge on the beach. We had an evening BBQ on the first night but chose off the menu on the second night. We stuck to beer as the wine list was showing $35 per bottle in one menu but had cheaper ‘out of stock’ wines listed in the lunch menu. Instead we decided on beers for our sun-downers, even if they were a bit overpriced. My mom had a massage and I had some reflexology there which was really good. It was very relaxing and I slept really well in our small but adequate room. The weather could’ve been better but at least we did see a little bit of sun. In the evening the resort allows backpackers to visit for a bit of a party night where there is lots of drunkenness and traditional dancing on the beach. We watched as the revelers tried (and mostly failed) at the bamboo dancing.
On our last day we had an early breakfast and a boat came to take us to Ben Bo port where we took a car pick up to our next part of our trip back to Hanoi. From Cat Ba island we got on the Full Moon Party bus, after watching a colour dash race take place outside the travel agency. We then got another boat, this time a fast ferry, which took us the quick route back to the mainland. From there we got the bus back to Hanoi where we were on time to meet Captain Caveman and Watto (Chrissy’s husband).
After a delicious lunch of fish & chips, pie or bangers & mash at the Moose & Roo on Ma May street we said our goodbyes to Chrissy and Watto and we boarded our next bus to Mai Chau.