An evening in Cat Ba island, Vietnam

by - 9/02/2023

I believe that any place completely changes its face as soon as the sun goes down. If it's a big city. then twinkling lights take over. And if it's a small town, then it becomes sleepy as the people scurry to wrap up their work and go to sleep. I always make an effort to explore the place after evening so as to absorb this 180 degree shift from the hustle bustle of the day to winding down.

Cat Ba may be a big, rocky island area wise, but is a very small town with just 16,000 population. However it receives around 2,5 million tourists every year, which means that the outsiders outweigh the locals by leaps and bounds! During our 4 days on this island, we hardly came across any Indian travellers. The thing is that majority of Indians prefer going to more known places like the Ha Long Bay. We, on the other hand, always try taking the lesser known path.

There was no scope for any decent vegetarian food (barring steamed bok choi and fries) for my culinary challenged family. So I had planned to have a solo dinner myself, that involved fresh sea food. After swimming in the sea at the Cat Co beach and witnessing the sun go down, we decided to take a ride around the island. Very soon we realised that it had gotten quite dark and was getting eerie. So we decided to stick to the town centre only. There was a small lake and there were numerous eateries dotting along its border.

The exciting part about this island was that peppy Vietnamese music was blasting from everywhere. I mean the government had installed speakers everywhere on the sidewalks, in the parks and gardens and restaurants of course were playing from their own sound systems. The local music had really good beats and we were jiving all the time. 

I ordered a shrimp and squid noodles for myself. While we waited for our order, I strolled around the restaurant to inspect the variety of sea animals that were swimming in the tanks, ready to get butchered. There many species that I had never seen before. Like the Mantis Shrimp (a famous Vietnamese delicacy), Chesapeake Blue crab and many other crustaceans, whom I was photographing and researching about them.

As I slurped my noodles, my elder one and husband kept staring at me; how I could devour those tiny shrimps and squids. After that we again took a ride around the lake and headed back to our resort. It was now my parents' turn to explore the night. Our little one was sick, so we had to take turns to babysit her at the resort.

My parents went to the pier and the ferry terminal. That was the most bustling part of the town; unlike the lakeside where I had dinner. The place was beautifully lit up, too sad I couldn't be there to watch it myself.

The shops shut down pretty early as per Delhi standards. I mean we people expect food at any time of the day. But what else can you expect on an island, they wake up early and sleep early. 

That day had gone haywire because of the little one's fever. But still somehow we managed to utilize the day. We had booked the Lan Hay Bay cruise for the next day, the most exciting part of this trip. So we too retired early and called it a day. 

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023 

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