I’m not the only one who’s fallen in love with Cat Ba lately and decided to stay longer than planned. My neighbor at the guesthouse, Pete from England, only planned on staying a few days, and has now been here for over five weeks. When he admitted to feeling as sloppy and lazy and I was, he suggested a hike up to the north end of the island, and I immediately agreed to go. When he said he’d come around the next morning to wake me at seven, however, I squawked. It took some pissing and moaning, but I finally talked him into rousing me at 8 am. And starting the next morning, Pete was to step into The Ig’s big shoes and see what he had to deal with on a daily basis for eight long months.
Unfortunately for me, Pete’s quite punctual, and at 8 am sharp I heard my wake-up call from our shared balcony.
I stumbled outta bed and joined him on the balcony, looking down at the road; it’d obviously rained earlier, and the sky was overcast.
“It looks awfully wet down there,” I said as I peered through half-opened eyes that wanted nothing more than to close again for a few more hours.
“Ah,” he answered, “it’ll be fine.”
“Could rain though,” I said hopefully.
“So we’ll get a little wet,” he said. “I’ll put the kettle on so you can have a coffee before we go.”
“Okay,” I said, and as soon as he’d turned to go to his room, I crawled back into bed.
A few minutes later he was standing in front of my door.
“What’re you doing!” he said, clearly amused. “C’mon, get up!”
I grumbled and threw the covers over my head.
“Get up you lazy cow!” he laughed. “You’re telling me you walked the Great Wall!”
I grudginly got up, had my coffee, got ready to leave, and then pulled on Pete what I’d pulled on The Ig every chance I had.
“How ’bout just one more coffee downstairs,” I pleaded. “Their coffee’s really strong–that oughtta get me going.”
Pete’s just as easy-going as The Ig, and readily agreed with a laugh.
Once I was sufficiently jacked up on joe, Pete and I set out to walk the entire length of Cat Ba island, a mind-boggling twenty-two kilometers.
I was a little worried at first, because Adventure Turtle flat-out refused to go, but Pete proved to be a stellar guide.
The scenery was stunning right from the begining, and it got better with every kilometer we walked.
I was disappointed the first time I stopped to pee, as I’d been bragging about the draw of the Beacon; my pants were already up before four motos zoomed by, proving my scarred behind doesn’t have the same pull as it did in days of yore.
We stopped at a small shop on our first break, and Pete whipped out his Vietnamese phrase book so we could chit-chat with the proprietors.
The man was quite tickled with my camera, and didn’t hesitate to give his photography skills a go. Seemingly bored with the beauty around him, he instead snapped a pic of Pete and I.
I couldn’t help but keep snapping away at the beautiful surroundings, and true to form, I’d bug Pete to see the map nearly every time we stopped on a break. I’d also pull my regular schtick when he was ready to roll again.
“Just as soon as I’m done with this smoke, ok?”
When we came across this woman with her goats,
I of course said hello, then much to she and Pete’s amusement, I bleated out greatings to the goats as well. Although Pete said he was going to walk on his own after that, he got over his initial embarrassment for not speaking goat and let me keep pace.
When I stopped to take this photo, a buffalo was standing out in the open. As soon as I raised my camera, however, he galloped behind the tree on the right, where you can see him peeking out.
For Shibble’s sake–who ever heard of a camera shy buffalo?!
It was a fantabulous day hiking the 22k up to the bay,
but then the moto drivers there pulled a mafia move; they quoted us double the price for the ride back, then when we refused, they made sure to run up to the bus drivers so they’d back ‘em. Disgusted, I told the Moto Boss I’d walk the 22k back before giving him a sinlge dong (dong being the Vietnamese currency).
We walked six kilometers back before a bus came by and I waved it down. This was one of the busses from the bay, and now that there weren’t any moto drivers around the price dropped to the normal fare.
Pete and I climbed on, and as we rolled towards home, I knew his experience in Ig’s shoes wasn’t quite complete.
“Hey,” I said, “have we passed the places where I peed yet?”
“I don’t know–why?” he asked with a befuddled smile.
“‘Cause then I could point to ‘em as we passed and say, ‘I peed there…and there…and yep, there too.”
Although Pete laughed, I’m sure he could’ve lived without having to experience the play-by-play of the day’s bathroom locations. However, he now knows what the poor Ig had to deal with, and he certainly proved to be a trooper.
Tommorrow I should be off on my first rock climbing trip if Onslo shows up. Keep yer fingers crossed and pray to Shibble that for once I’m confident instead of clumbsy!
Tags: cat ba, Hiking, southeast asia, Travel, Vietnam, Tag Index