The Dark Side
As Carrie mentioned in her Cát Bà post, Cát Bà is the less touristy way to explore the beauty that is Hạ Long Bay. But the island has another story to tell. The all too familiar human story of death and destruction. During the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s, Cát Bà was one of the most heavily bombed areas of the north by American forces and the scars remain. Climbing to the top of ‘Cannon Hill’ located near the center of town, you’ll find old battlements, shrines, and memorials of those troubled times. It’s a solemn and eerie place. A reminder, as if we need one these days, of the darker side of humanity.
The Natural Beauty
But Cát Bà Island, although respectful of the past, is looking to the future. A future based on the incredible natural beauty that is Hạ Long Bay. The island is in the early stages of developing the infrastructure necessary for a large scale tourist invasion. Upscale hotels are already in the construction phase with plans for more. Currently – spring of 2016 – it’s a fun, laid-back place, providing an excellent atmosphere in which to explore an incredible natural wonder. We hired a local tour guide for an all-day adventure that began with a 15-kilometer ‘stroll’ through the jungle, then lunch at a local, family-owned restaurant which was located in a
small village. This was followed by a boat ride through the less traveled areas of Hạ Long Bay, which included a stop at one of the floating fishing villages. When we booked the tour we were told that the jungle walk portion was an easy 7-kilometer walk. Well, it wasn’t! Steep climbs on jagged rocks were frequent. Still-recovering-hernia-boy was not pleased, but all in all a very fun day.
Forget Hạ Long Bay City! Take the road less traveled and experience an unspoiled, or at least less spoiled, Hạ Long Bay via Cát Bà. You’ll find yourself nestled in with friendly locals, away from the crowds, where you can explore the area’s past, its local people, all while not feeling like an ATM machine. See it via Cát Bà Island, but do it soon or just wear your pin number on your tee shirt.
Hike Drink Live Laugh
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