Cat ba island… Hammocks swaying gently in the breeze, pink sunrises, wandering down to the waters edge for a fire after dinner.
I arrived in the night, was shown my sleeping quarters for the night (a hammock on the balcony) and quickly invited to join in on a beach fire.
The sun woke me, it’s pinks and oranges dancing on my eyelids early in the morning. The first view I had on the bay, from my hammock at first light… I think I’m going to like this place.
A fruit salad later I’m in a van, then hopping on a boat. I met two girls the night before booking a day tour to Halong bay, lan ha bay and monkey island, I followed suit.
We are on the top deck on this boat, lazing around on cushions using the sun as our blanket. The water reflects the bright blue of the sky but is sprayed with glitter from the sun. The brilliance of these bays on a sunny day… The rock formations jutting out of the water, the greenery they hold. The legend is that
When the Vietnamese had to fight against invaders coming the Jade Emperor sent a dragon and her children to help. They attacked the enemies breathing fire and giant emeralds. The emeralds formed a defensive wall and eventually became the islands of Halong bay.
One guy gets too drunk and falls overboard, no one else had even began drinking yet. We kayak (without the drunk guy) through caves and spot monkeys then dine on the boat. We jump of the boat and swim in water like a salty bath. Monkey island is, as you might guess, crawling with monkeys which kind of freak me out. I hike up to a view point and it’s magnificent.
Back at Woodstock beach camp I am exhausted and content, I have upgraded my hammock to a mattress and its looking ever so inviting after a bit of time getting to know the staff over a few beers on the beach.
Another sunrise to welcome the day, followed by a dip in the ocean. A staff member has the morning off and we agreed to motivate each other to go hiking. We speed off to Cat Ba national park on a scooter and hike through greenery for a bit less that an hour. The trail ends as we emerge from the top of the trees, we have a view above all the other mountains which look like a big, interconnected, land version of Halong Bay.
The afternoon is spent doing yoga on the shore, a sunset swim and reading ‘eating animals’ (which I can’t recommend highly enough- well written and shocked me to tears).
I was thinking about leaving on this day… Of course I didn’t.
Morning yoga down by the beach. The bartender and I were on similar levels of laziness on this day so we watched cartoons together and drank mango smoothies. Eventually we were restless enough to agree we needed to get up. I jumped on the back of his bike and we rode down to a secret little cove at an unfinished resort. We rode through the thick of the island on a tiny overgrown track (a line through the jungle where trees weren’t- but rocks and bushes definitely were). We stopped occasionally to explore and admire.
I read during sunset laying in a hammock on the beach.
My last night. We all moved over to the beach bar after a big, group feast. The stars were bright and so was the phosphorescence in the sea. I met even more new people, more kind souls I got to know and connect with so quickly. And all too quickly it was time to leave.
A group of us, horrified by the litter on the beach asked for some bags to start cleaning it up. The staff offered a free beer for each bag of rubbish we collected (which is awesome).
I hung out in the art zone for the rest of the morning, making bracelets, necklaces and coating shells in glitter.
Woodstock created such an idyllic little hideaway from all things bad and busy. There were hugs goodbye and personal jokes and I left with such a good feeling about my time spent there and all of Vietnam. About my time spent this whole year and al the people I shared it with.