A floating fishing village at Ha Long Bay
I was going to skip Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba since I had seen similar scenery in Tam Coc and also was spending more time and money in Vietnam that I had anticipated. However, I had spoken to several people who said that it was a sight not to be missed, so I booked a tour from Ninh Binh for two nights. Unfortunately, I got scammed. I was sold a mid-range tour and instead ended up on an extremely low-budget boat, had to share a room when I had booked a single, and was served inedible food. The people on my boat who had paid less than half what I did were not terribly upset, but as I realized what happened I got very frustrated. To make matters worse, the “guide” on my boat was extraordinarily unhelpful and unsympathetic.
Scams and bad tour experience aside, I did mostly enjoy visiting the Ha Long Bay area. It’s a UNESCO site and has some impressive limestone cliffs and caves, and hiking on Cat Ba was a fun morning. Unfortunately the site is not well taken care of and it’s highly polluted with tons of rubbish. The boats are very unsafe to boot. Hopefully UNESCO can step in and clean up the area before it’s too far gone.
Coastal views from the Lantau Trail
The Lantau Trail is a 70km footpath that circles Lantau Island in Hong Kong. My friends and I hiked sections 7 and 8 of the trail from Tai O to Shek Pik, a relatively modest hike that took about 4 hours. We were kept company by hundreds of butterflies and a few terrifying spiders!
Sitting near the Mui Wo waterfalls
After a magnificent three weeks in Turkey I flew to Hong Kong to visit Jane and James, who I had taught with in Colombia last year. I’d never been to eastern Asia before and I tried to keep my mind open and eliminate expectations. I was glad to have some friends to show me the ropes!
What surprised me most about Hong Kong was how green it is. I had images of horrendous traffic, bright lights, and crowded buses in my mind, and that is indeed true in the center of the city. But just a short ferry ride away is Lantau Island, home to long hiking trails and brilliant coastal views. The Olympic Trail is just one of these trails. From the Mui Wo ferry terminal it’s a short, clearly-signposted walk to the beginning of the trail, where you’ll be treated with the Mui Wo waterfalls. Then, you can hike up a fair number of stairs to get a view of the harbor, and then continue along deeper into the island toward Pak Mong. I branched off the Olympic Trail to take a less-developed country trail, where I found myself quite isolated for several kilometers.