Departing Hanoi via minibus brought us to the coastal city of Ha Long. Here we had some of our most authentic Vietnamese food: street cafés with no menus, ordering food entirely through the few native words we had thus far learned. And yet, the city itself felt abandoned and forgotten—empty hotels outnumbered those welcoming guests, relatively few foreigners walking along the streets except at night once the tours returned. The quietness of the city provided a unique moment with a young family as we visited their seaside café. A four-year-old boy played with a crab holding a string attached to its pincer; laughter mixed with moments of terror as it edged near to him.
We took a boat through Ha Long Bay toward Cat Ba Island, enjoying stunning views and unbelievable landscapes. An absolutely incredible experience, especially for sunset.
The last few days were spent in Cat Ba, a remote town on the edge of its namesake island where we explored the island via motorbike, hiked through Cat Ba National Park and enjoyed quiet views of the ocean.