Florian, Ming, Bella and I arrived in Cat Ba after taking the scenic route to the island. We first took the train from Gia Lam station for about 2 hours to Haiphong City. At the station, we got suckered into purchasing 150K VND (foreigner price) ferry tickets through a company called HADECO. It was only until we got to the port that we realized it was not the same ferry Bella and I had gone on last time, and instead involved taking a bus trip to another port.
Vin’s English was great and he told Florian and I over breakfast and coffee that he used to work at an English center in Haiphong, but wanted to experience the beach life on Cat Ba. He referenced Afroman lyrics and Snoop Dogg when he mentioned how he learned to speak some English.
After swimming around the dock and getting some lunch, we took kayaks out to other beaches across the bay. We started checking out some of the small islands and pretended that we were castaways and needed to figure out ways to survive. Finding resources and climbing around, we got tired and decided to kayak to this other beach. We found out that one of our friends who we were showing around Hanoi from a few days before was actually, coincidentally on the beach, as well. We found him sleeping and gave him a scare/surprise. We all then decided to kayak back to Dai San and stay the rest of the evening on the floating house.
Later that night we ate dinner, then behind from where we were sitting saw a fisherman with a lantern hanging on a wooden bamboo pole off the edge of the deck. The guy was squid fishing and we got poles to fish for hours until the guy told us to go to sleep. Between Florian and myself we ended up catching 30 squid! The squid would swim by in schools and circle around the light. Our bait looked like smaller squids with an octo-hook dangling. The trick to catching squid is to lure them to the top, tempt them with the bait then go limp and sink. Quick upward movements followed by sinking, the squid will chase the bait to the top and then dive down. Once the squid goes for the bait, a snap of the wrist and you easily hook them. They shoot out their black ink and if you pull them out of the water, look out because they make a loud squirting sound and black ink flies in all directions. My clothes and skin ended up looking like I had an accident with a printer. We were covered.
The last day on Cat Ba we spent a few hours stuck on the bus heading back to catch the ferry. We spent the entire time playing cards to kill the time. It was a bit of a relief to finally get off the island and back to Hanoi, considering the trip took us almost 7 hours!