Climbing in Catba

On arriving at Haiphong ferry port, after a couple of hours of riding our bikes, we were told that we could not get on a boat with our motorbikes until the next day. Somewhat disappointed, we stood and chatted for a while to make a new plan .

However, when we then tried to book tickets for the following morning at 7am, the ticket lady suddenly changed her mind and we were booked onto the next ferry (or so we thought), with motorbikes at 3pm. Fantastic!

Little did we realise we had signed up for the speed boat, 45km in 45 minutes, with our bikes strapped to the back with bungee cord.


The Speed Boat with Our Bikes Strapped to the back in Hai Phong

Suffice to say, it was one of the most terrifying boat rides of my life. I spent most of the journey hanging onto my seat hoping and praying we would make it to Catba in one piece, while the boat itself rocked from side to side and crashed down onto the huge waves around us. Almost everybody (except us) spent the journey throwing up and we arrived on dry land in need of a lie down and a beer!

Though I enjoyed my time in Catba over Christmas, I was not particularly keen to go back, but I am SO glad I did!

It was great to see Fede again, our friend from Laos who is now volunteering on the island. We went climbing in the cave and, though we climbed a bit, we also ended up playing on the ropes and taking lots of fun silhouette photos.


Upside Down (photo by Fede)


Fede as Buddha


Me and Sanne playing about on the ropes (photo by Fede)

But the highlight of our visit to Catba was without doubt the day we joined Fede for one of his company’s tours.

First we took a boat out in Lan Ha Bay. It was stunning.


Me and Fede on the back of the boat. (Photo by Sanne)

We passed the floating village; ramshackle houses built out of wood and suspended on the water with barrels and plastic containers, before we were dropped off at one of these very buildings (aptly named “The Floating House”) further out in the bay.

From here we collected kayaks and continued our journey around the bay a little closer to the water. We were even luckier as we had timed the tides perfectly and could kayak under a small tunnel into a secluded pool of turquoise sea water, surrounded by steep cliffs of limestone and with coral underneath us.

It was breathtaking scenery.


Sanne and I kayaking (photo by Fede)

Before returning to the Floating House for a lunch we stopped on one of the small beaches for a bit of bouldering, swimming and volleyball.

We enjoyed a long lunch eating traditional Vietnamese food followed by coffee and naps. It was already a pretty perfect day, but the best was yet to come.

We went Deep Water Soloing in the bay. Deep Water Soloing means that you climb up the rock without ropes, simply jumping off when you can’t do the moves or you get too high.


A Bouldery Start in Barefeet (photo by Fede)

We started on easy stuff, which actually turned out to be terrifying! I wanted to climb more, but I was too afraid of climbing too high and then having to downclimb… so I jumped off early! It is surprising how quickly you feel high up and jumping suddenly becomes so scary!


A Little Afraid to Jump (Photo by Fede)

After a few attempts, I started to get the hang of it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it is somewhat disconcerting flying through the air backwards into water below.


Flying! (Photo by Fede)

I still think i prefer cliff jumping and climbing as separate activities, but nevertheless I had a lot of fun!

What a perfect day, swimming, kayaking, boat ride, bouldering and deep water soloing! Thanks Sanne and Fede for making it such a fun day! 🙂





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