Exploring Cat Ba Island, Vietnam – Cat Ba-lue

We almost freeze our toes off exploring Cat Ba Island

This post is part of our epic series documenting 19 months of cycling through 22 countries. If you want to know more about Cat Ba Island, read on.

(Don’t miss: Our post covering everything you need to know before cycle touring Vietnam)

9,999 km so far.

Birthday note: We have been thinking about Jane’s parents a lot lately, because we are set to meet them in just a few days. But today especially, we are thinking of them because it’s Jane’s dad’s birthday! Happy Birthday Tom!

I’ve been feeling a little Cat Ba-lue the last few days. Or maybe that’s Cat Bah, as in Bah Humbug. What am I on about? I am cold. Like blue fingers and toes cold, wrapped up in blankets, and none too happy about it. It is cold here. Not snowy wintery cold, but colder than it should ever be in Southeast Asia.

fishing boats off cat ba island

A few of the many boats of Cat Ba Island.

This is, admittedly, what we get for coming here in way off-season. But it’s the tropics for Pete’s sake. If we were high up on a mountain I could understand it, but we are at sea level on Cat Ba Island.

(Don’t miss: Our post about everything you need to know before visiting Vietnam)

The buildings in Cat Ba Island aren’t insulated, because it’s not supposed to get this cold. In fact, our hotel room doesn’t even have glass in the windows. There are just wooden shutters to keep the sun out.

cat ba island guest house

No glass, just shutters. Doesn’t really keep the heat in.

That is the weather for which they are prepared. Most of the restaurants are open air, so finding somewhere to get warm isn’t easy.

We went to My Way, a restaurant and cafe, for breakfast and to make use of their WiFi, but it was one of the open air places, so even drinking down their (quite delicious) coffee didn’t warm us up.

I was able to stick it out just long enough to get our taxes done, which is a great weight off my shoulders, but doesn’t make me any warmer.

The veggie pho we had for lunch helped a bit, especially since it was served with fresh French bread.

cat ba island bread

The best bread we’ve had in sooo long.

Hiking Cat Ba Island

We went for a hike afterwards – with our toques (aka wooly hats), scarves, warmest trousers, and jackets on – to get warm. It actually worked. For a few hours today our toes were toasty.

We hiked around the coast to the three main beaches close to town.

resort on cat ba island

Private beach at Cat Ba Sunrise Resort.

Each has its own resort complex built into the hillside that surrounds the cove.

The first cove is where Jane stayed with her mom, sister, and our youngest niece when they were here five years ago. It was cool to see the locations of some of the photos from that trip.

The cove beaches are incredibly beautiful. The sand is pristine (we watched a guy raking up the rocks that had messed up his perfect beach), and they look out into the bay.

Man raking the perfect beach, Cat Ba.

Man raking the perfect beach, Cat Ba.

The karst islands sitting just offshore making a stunning spot even more spectacular.

Going The Distance

This afternoon I finished a project I have been working on for the last few weeks.

We have been using the website RideWithGPS during our entire trip to help us plan routes. It gives detailed elevation graphs, and can help us find alternate routes on smaller roads, flatter roads, and past interesting sites. We can also export the maps it generates into PocketEarth, which then acts as our offline GPS guide as we ride.

I have now completed uploading every single ride we have done on the trip so far, and will continue to add each ride as we complete it. What this means is that you can see exactly where we’ve been, you can find the field we free camped in with the Wild Cat in Slovenia, you can camp in the same olive grove we free camped at in Italy, or you can find your way to Heaps Good Wine’s vineyard. All of our rides are right here.

While completing this work I discovered there were a couple of small rides in Berlin we hadn’t logged in our total distance kilometres, which means today I have added the missing rides to our total. Without riding anything at all today, our total jumps from 9,956 km to 9,999 km!

We've almost made it to 10,000 km! Some of the stats were wrong, so we blurred them out.

We’ve almost made it to 10,000 km! Some of the stats were wrong, so we blurred them out.

Yes, it is a total coincidence that I finished this project on the day we are 1 km short of hitting 10,000.

Next time we get on our bikes we will tick over to 10,000 km cycled! We can hardly believe it.  


  1. Comment by Taina

    Taina February 13, 2014 at 6:47 am

    So you’re not going to ride around town just to make it to 10,000? :) Congrats – amazing milestone.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen February 13, 2014 at 6:57 am

      We thought we should cross it on a real ride, so tomorrow we’ll tick it off at about 7am on our (way too early, way too cold) ride to the ferry. 10K in 10C morning air.

  2. Comment by Patti

    Patti February 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Aaaghhhh! Yes , I do remember those sites! Of course, it was balmy and hot – we swam every day … no woollen hats needed. :) 9,999 is amazing!

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen February 13, 2014 at 4:29 am

      Jealous! It looks like a beautiful place to lounge and swim, but we aren’t hardy enough to do it in this weather!

  3. Comment by Cassie

    Cassie February 12, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Dang. So, about 1000km/month average?

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen February 12, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      I’d say it’s more like 1200km/m just ’cause we had a month off in Berlin and a month in Shanghai…

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