CAT BA TOWN, Vietnam // We left Hanoi on the 11:20am bus to Haiphong. We drove through a strange industrial sea port area and switched onto a speed boat and landed in Cat Ba Island. This island is known to have lots of awesome outdoor activities and we expected a rustic sea village. It turned out to be the Vietnam version of party central Panama City.
There were high rise beach hotels and Vietnamese people everywhere walking around town in swim suits. Us and every other foreign traveler on our bus expected to arrive and just book a place like usual at one of the hundreds of options. However, we realized that it was a Saturday evening. Every place in the entire city was full. No vacancy anywhere. The people at the hotels were getting angry every time I walked in as they shouted "full!" at me. We must have tried 15-20 places and eventually saw a few other people from our bus. They had walked the opposite way as us, and said every place was full their way. We told them all the places were full from our way too. We stared at each other in disbelief thinking of what our options were. Finally a lady from the hostel came out and said we can stay at their other hostel outside of town, but we had to camp in tents. Huh?? Well, it was our only option. We did not have much of a choice. A van pulled up and an Australian guy about our age told us the place was pretty cool and he worked there. He could take us for free. Me, Jenny, and 4 other German backpackers got in.
It was a solid 20 minutes outside of town down a sketchy gravel road, but the place was awesome. It was called Woodstock Beach Camp and their were lots of other travelers there. Some we even recognized from our bus, and like us, had no other options. The tent was nicer than we thought, but the weather was crazy humid. We ended up having a big family style dinner with everyone at the hostel and chatting with a group of Canadian guys till about midnight. This turned out to be really fun, and sometimes the biggest problems and most stressful situations turn into the most vivid memories. It wasn't the best way to arrive on Cat Ba Island, but sleeping in a tent with a bunch of other travelers turned out to be not that bad.