The posts have been lacking, because we've been slacking on Cat Ba Island for the past 6 days. It's the only inhabited island in Halong Bay, with around 7,000 residents (same as all of Grant County!). We felt the need for a break after Hanoi and before we make the journey across the Laos border, so we extended our stay here for a few extra days. Unlike the hotels in all the other cities we've stayed, internet access is not available, so we are currently sitting in a cafe waiting for our ride back to the ferry dock.
The vistas from the island and on the bay are stunning! We took a bunch of photos and hope to post them sometime on smugmug, but we keep getting farther and farther behind. Google Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island for an idea why we stayed longer here than anywhere else thus far. We took an overnight boat trip into the bay on about a 50 foot boat with three other tourists, a honeymooning American couple from Lake Tahoe, and a 20-year old girl from New Zealand. We spent the days kayaking, swimming, and eating, and to sleep, we dragged our mattress onto the roof of the cabin and slept under the stars (serenaded by the dogs who guard each of the fish farms and the cellphones of our boat captain and cook- how can you get a cellular signal in the middle of Lanha Bay but not in Grant County?!?!?) Aside from this, we've spent our time reading on the beach, swimming, and eating lots of good seafood.
On to our first land border crossing into Laos now. Wish us luck!