The next morning started with rice, as it usually does for people in Asia, followed by a quick trip to Highland coffee for drinks to take with us before Duong drove us another 10 miles to Dinh Vu Ferry point, where we caught the hourly car ferry first across to the nearby island of Cat Hai, driving the short distance across island before then catching another ferry across to to the next island and then onto the harbour town of Cat Ba. Arriving there in the early afternoon before we were then taken by boat to a small, floating restaurant where we ate fish freshly raised and killed from the waters below, the head served in a soup, the rest eaten with yet more rice.
The afternoon consisted of a short trip around the picturesque bay, with its floating bars, restaurants and colourful houses set against the backdrop of still waters and jutting rock formations. When the light started to fall we watched the sun settle from a raised cliffside observation point with a couple of beers, the bays blanketed orange slipping off the edge as darkness fell. The evening meal consisted of chicken........and a bit more rice.
I finally cracked. After Duong and his family had retired for the evening and Lan and I sat enjoying a late night coffee, I ordered a cheese and ham sandwich to eat a little later on, something to soak up the rice and give me a feeling of eating something of bulk. I needed to start feeling normal again quickly and I hoped this would help everything settle
Tomorrow we headed for "the bay".
The calmness of the air belied the weather conditions that the next day would spring upon us.