Monday, March 28, 2011

Vietnam-Fly to Hanoi; bus to Cat Ba (Day 53)

It was going to be a long day.  Our flight was at 8:20 am so we were up at 4:15 am.


We caught a cab at 4:45 am.


We got to the airport at 5:30 am.  We got checked in and the big moment with immigration for the overstay was to come.  We waited in line and Anja went up first.  They asked for the rest of her party and I went up.  We were then sent to a little both with two police officers.  “Do you know you overstay?”  “Yes, we are sorry”  “4 days overstay 2,000 baht”  They gave us each receipt and stamped our passport with the overstay and departure stamps.  The overstay stamp is pretty much illegible so I don’t think it will cause us any problems in future countries.  Anja asked “can we still come back in the future”  “Yes, no problem.”  I was happy to have that over and we were off to our flight.

We caught the flight and landed in Vietnam.  Sadly, our friend Jim had been set to join us in Vietnam but he had broken his ankle shortly before the trip and backed out at the last minute when he knew it wasn’t going to be better.  After over a hour waiting for our bags we were looking for a cab and figuring out how much a dong was.  Roughly 20,000 dong to the dollar so I took out 6,000,000 dong.  Wow that was a lot of zeros on the ATM screen.  It’s moments like this I’m glad my ATM card only allows for $300 at a time.  After getting harassed by pushy taxi drivers for a ride for 400,000 dong we went outside and easily got a cab for 300,000 dong to the bus station.  He took us straight to the bus station and dropped us right where we wanted.  It was 10:45 am and buses leave at 11:10 and 1:10 got to hurry.


We found a both for the tour company the guidebook recommended and got tickets.  The bus left from the back.  In the back there were tons of buses but all the Vietnamese men would say “Cat Ba” (which was where we were headed) and pointed a bunch of white people.  Ah, no confusion here I quickly figured the only place white people go through this bus station is Cat Ba Island.  We boarded the bus and were off.

The bus took us to a little tourist office where we waited for 30 minutes when another bus came and took us to the pier.  At the pier we boarded a motorboat ferry.


The ferry ride was about 30 minutes and at the far pier a bus was waiting.  This bus took us weaving around Cat Ba Island coast to Cat Ba Town.  I’d booked two nights at Duc Tuan’s guesthouse which worked out perfect as it was about a half block down from where the bus dropped us off.  So did you get that; taxi, customs, taxi, bus, bus, ferry, and bus.  That’s a busy day.


After getting situated in our hotel room we headed over to SloPony climbing guide service to check in about the scene.  The guys over there were really nice and we booked a day of beach climbing from a boat for $22 each.  Anja also got in a long discussion about Vermont with Slo after seeing his helmet above.

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