I slept very well that night; the room wasn’t so cold compared to the outside temperature. And i woke up fresh in the morning, could not wait to try the breakfast menu.
The food was delicious, and they offered so many kinds of food. The breakfast was just the red-herring from my detained passion to lead the heart of this journey… Halong Bay (Even now when I say it, I can still feel a sweep of the strong wind, invites me to grasp the every hilly jade of the bay). Anyway, my buddy trip were waking up late, I had to go ahead to the meeting point first, avoiding the tour group leaving us behind. And It wasn’t too long till they caught us up.
As I stepped on ship, I knew that it was going to be one of the precious moments in my life (although I have to admit, my double jacket wasn’t that strong enough to sustain from the cold, it was really a jabbing cold, especially when the boat moved, and I pretty suffered of it). My heart screamed a detained excitement when the machine started to draw the ship to the sea of jade. And the journey begun…
For the first round, I was in a 2-seater boat with Mr. S, we had a quite difficult time at first, balancing our body with the wave motion. Set some strategy to move the kayak ahead, pedaling the oar right and left against the wave. I knew he had a difficult time, since I didn’t produce enough energy pedaling the kayak (so sorry for that, Mr. S). But we made a good kayak team, heading our canoe to places we aimed. One of the most mesmerizing experiences was when we aimed our boat tracing down underground cave of the rock. Other kayakers from another boat also fill the area around to Taste the underground cave. Looking at the rock from the boat is astonishing, but grasping it from the close distance while kayaking is another wonderful experience. You can see the rock towering high against its surroundings.
It seemed I was the only one that nervous about our lunch. Mr. S and Mr. P chose to blend with the other passenger. They were headed to the deck and had a pleasant (so I heard) conversation with the French couple, while the loner tourist seating calm in front of me, and the impossible Sweden couple busy with themselves. I tried to make myself sleep, awaiting the lunch to be served, but the waves made it impossible.
Anyway, when finally the lunch was served, my anxiety was useless. It was a 4-main-course: omelets, fried fish with tomato sauce, seafood spring roll and sauté vegetable, and it was all nicely served. My anxiety was replaced by surprise & hungry. I was surprised that the kind of food can be produced in such situation, and it was the captain that making it. We hurriedly try the meal one by one, tempted by the pleasant smell and the looks of the food.
I felt full at last, another power gained for the rest of the trip, kayaking part II. After 1 hours of making way back in opposite direction (I supposed), we stopped by again in an area with the calm water. This time I teamed up with the Germany. He was a quiet guy, and I didn’t have so many coordination conversation compared when teaming up with Mr.S, which made me confuse for a while. Mr. Germany seemed to have a quiet an experience, and strength, made me only pretending pedaling the oar ^^. He said to me to relax, coz he could do it all (hahaha…). Anyway, I tried my best to pedal, coz I’m a good teammates :P. Basically, he let me aim the boat anywhere I like.
We stopped by the nearby sandbar. The sand was very clear and soft that I couldn’t hold myself back to make a small jump on it. There were 3 local people picking up a small seashell that were attached to the rock. According to our captain, they live in the boat house, and survive by selling the seashell, another story of people in Vietnam. Makes me thinking, that the exciting thing about every journey is not just visiting nice places, but to observe & to learn the people.
We arrived at Catba Island at 4:30 pm, and back to the Hotel for a shower. It didn’t take us a long to have another walk in the city (not shop till drop, but walk till drop). We explored another side of our hotel, played by the private beach of our hotel, and explored the circling route on the rocky hill that flanked our hotel. The track was ascending in at first, some of them are plain, then ended up descending. The view was very wonderful; I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t take the morning picture in that place. In the boat we could see the jade stood up from the ocean, but the road on the rocky hill served us a view of all those beauty from altitude, another point of view to enjoy its beauty. The route seemed circling us out of our hotel, and took us to another part of the island.
Magic & surprise couldn’t wait when it’s ready to be revealed. Our next object was: RESTAURANT. We tracked down the city and went inside the alley, searching the best place to have a dinner. We stopped by the restaurant named: nhà nghĩ – nhà hàng vịễn dưong (I tried the online Vietnam dictionary and typed the name of the restaurant using ‘vietnam keyboard’ option the website has. And yes, I still keep the dinner invoice ^^). It was a regular seafood restaurant from outside. Living sea animal was put outside, so the guest can choose by their own. There was a fish, seashell, shrimp, crab, and many more. We were welcomed by an old Vietnam lady who totally unable to speak English. Let the dinner begun!!
We were given a menu list (There was a Vietnam name of the food and the English version of it, thanks for that) to be looked at, while the lady standing near to us equipped by a pen and a paper. She continually talked to us using Vietnam, while us striving hard to explain the menu we would like to have in English. The funny thing was, every time we point a name of the food on the menu list to get an explanation (not ordered yet), she then said something in Vietnam very vast, wrote that name directly on the paper, and directly asked their chef to cook it (???). We were defenseless with her naughty funny act. We spent 15-20 minutes finding the right menu & had a weary yet fun conversation with the lady. It was reliefing when finally we finished order and the dinner was served.
But it didn’t stop just that. I found that the food named: fried rice with egg was filled by perhaps only a half egg, and it was very salty. The lady that finally understand that I’m a vegetarian (fiuh…) brought some compliments, like soya, etc to make the rice more tasteful.
It wasn’t a 5 minutes, until she came back, circling our table, talking to us in Vietnam while pointing the corn soup my buddies ordered. We were totally blacked out of what she meant back then. Until she grab a spoon in our table and take a spoon of the soup in her mouth. Then she showed grumble-like expression while saying in Vietnam we didn’t understand, and then said something to the chef in the kitchen. (What I could capture was, she tried to make another one soup since that one tasted plane). And it proved to be correct, less than 10 minutes; a bowl of a soup was brought to us with a bigger portion by her. And she said something again in Vietnam with a big smile (perhaps saying: I bet this one is better, now you guys enjoy it, I give it for free). What the best dinner in the trip!
We closed our dinner by taking a picture with the lady, and the entire family work for the restaurant. Amazing Vietnam!