I arrived in the early morning on my motorbike and I was just randomly exploring the island. After few hours I went to Woodstock Beach Camp where I met Atwin and Julia – my two friends that I met in Hanoi. As I wrote in the previous article, buying Honda Win was a beginning of my bittersweet symphony. After few km, the engine started to vibrate, backlight didn’t work, electric started didn’t work and my maximum speed was about 50 km/h. Atwin had plenty of problems with his motorbike as well. Honda Win, of course. Starter didn’t work, kickstart didn’t work as well, so I just jump-started the bike.
When we went to Cat Ba town, we were a perfect combo. Atwin’s motorbike was choking up, but sometimes it went really nice and fast. Mine was vibrating everywhere and wasn’t able to go faster than 40 km/h. Vietnamese style.
One Vietnamese guy showed us a great place for a lunch and then we went to repair Atwin’s motorbike. It was running well for a while. But repair one thing and break another. After saying bye to each other that day, I went back to Woodstock Beach Camp and wasn’t able to find a way for a long time. My front light was so weak, that I needed to go very slow to see all the holes.
When I arrived, i pitched my tent in a small forrest next to the beach and I had this amazing conversation with a girl that I didn’t see. We were just talking for a long time. The next day I realized that it was Sierra – a girl from US volunteering there. She was such an inspirational person for me. Seeing her doing yoga on the beach and talking with her felt like a different dimension.
I was meditating close to my tent. It felt great. I was able to hear waves and breathe this salty air again. After that, I played my guitar. I found peace one again.
Next few days, I always rode back to Cat Ba town to meet my friends and than I rode back to Woodstock Beach Camp. It just felt so good here.
Cat Ba National Park
This place is one of the main tourist attractions on the island. You can do two different treks around the park – one individual one that will take you to the highest mountain of the island and another one that takes all day and has to be prebooked. For the second one, you also have to book a boat to Cat Ba town and pay for a guide. We didn’t want to pay so we did the first option. There is one way up to the hill and it takes roughly about 2 hours to get there. On the top we had a spliff and then we were observing the surrounding.
We were riding around the island and one day, we stopped next to the fisherman’s dock. There were a few guys waving at us and they invited us for a watermelon. We were not able to speak Vietnamese and they were not able to speak English, nevertheless we had plenty of fun together.
We found a place where they had a great soup (main dish) for 20k VND (1 USD) and plenty of other dishes that tasted great. Even better with a beer for 6k VND.
On my way back to Woodstock, I stopped by one Xe May (Vietnamese mechanic). I wanted to find out why the motorbike is vibrating so much. I disassembled it, I tied everything to the frame, but I didn’t fix it. After this, my front light stopped working, so I always needed to ride the bike in the day xD. I can pay the mechanic to fix it, but that is too easy for me. I want to learn about these motorbikes myself and it was still under warranty so I was waiting till I get back to Hanoi.
One day, Atwin and Julie went for a tour on a boat. I didn’t want to pay 200k for it, so I stayed on the island. I have money, but I want to spend the minimum possible.
After few days, Atwin and Julie left back to Hanoi and I was waiting for my friend Amanda to come to Cat Ba. I met her the my first night in Hanoi and now our paths crossed again. We spend this whole day together and our romance began.
We were inseparable the next few days. We stayed in the Woodstock Beach Camp, in my tent and later in Cat Ba town.
World feels different when you can share it with someone else. I felt very strong when she was hugging me on my motorbike. We were exploring the island together and one day we found a small path leading to a hidden beach. I was a very nice place. We stayed there for a while and did some bamboo-sword fighting :). On our way back, we heard a small goat screaming. This small guy’s head was stuck in between two wooden sticks and he wasn’t able to get it out. He was pulling back, but he was only choking himself. I needed to use some force to persuade him to go the other way. Martin, the Goat-Saver :D. On the way back, we noticed, that there is a crocodile farm. We didn’t see it before – we were enjoying the conversation too much.
We stayed in Cat Ba town for a while and then we wanted to return back to Hanoi. I thought we can go together on the motorbike and send our backpacks to Hanoi in a bus, but they wanted to charge us the same price for the backpacks as for a person. Amanda rode in a bus and I rode on my shaky bike.
It took me some time to get to Hanoi and all the road, I was thinking how to scold the guy, who sold me the bike.
I guess that riding in the night has also some advantages. You at least spare yourself those “Oh, man!” moments when not seeing the way others drive in the night. Ok, stay focused. I found the optimal RPM to shaking ratio and in about 3 hours I was entering Hanoi.
When I arrived, I went straight to the mechanic. He was acting completely different that he did when I was buying the bike. Well, he is a trader.
More about that next time.