Quan Lan Island – Paradise In Pictures
It’s quite hard to get yourself that lost if there isn’t anywhere in particular you are trying to go. After a week of dealing with getting stuff done in Hanoi it was time to relax on a beach near Halong Bay in Bai Tu Long Bay. There isn’t a whole lot of info online but I took that as a good sign that it wouldn’t be as touristy as Halong Bay. I’ve posted a bunch of information at the bottom of this post. We made our way over a whole day of travel of buses and boats to get to Quan Lan island. I finally figured out the panorama settings in Photoshop this week so there’s a few shots showing how empty all the beautiful beaches here are.
We missed the ferry when we got in mid afternoon. Luckily we managed to catch other people who missed the ferry to split a chartered slow wooden boat. Don’t mind me as I shove some electronics into a dry bag as we pull away from Cai Rong.
The wooden boat slowly puttered around letting us catch all the beautiful karst formations that Halong Bay to the south is known for.
My Lonely Planet book has an awful section for Vietnam that kept recommending “taking 2 day tours” for everything. I think I’ll take the slow route, thanks. This is too beautiful to do quickly.
The next day we walked to the beach closest to the village we stayed in. Why yes, I will take a completely empty beach!
The beach of Lost? Washington? Why are there pine trees here?!
This would be perfect except this is the beach all the villagers come to, so like everywhere else in Asia, it was covered in trash.
While waiting for my license for motorized two wheels, I took the time to get some exercise and bicycle around the island. I saw these tombstone like markers in Laos telling you how far you needed to go as well.
The bicycle ride was beautiful. We passed beaches, mangrove looking swamps, and forests. We even got invited to join Vietnamese and Chinese fisherman for a delicious lunch and beer drinking contest.
It’s hard to keep your eye on the road when this is on the side of the road. The not well maintained bikes and sand covered roads made sure I kept a close eye on both.
Biking the next day brought me to what looked like the worst floating restaurant in the world. Does it count as floating if you put it in a pool?
This beach was beautiful but it was creepily empty besides a bunch of vendors who were lounging around. So I kept riding.
This beach was beautiful as well and had some beachside cabanas full of vendors who’d rent you an inner tube, volleyball, lounge chair or hammock.
Why no, there is no one else on the beach anywhere near me. Look how happy I look about it. Surprise, I do have more pictures of me when I’m not traveling alone.
I rode out all the way to the northern tip of the island where I came in the first day. The port wasn’t this busy when I got here!
As I rode, I saw many water buffalo. They looked a lot bigger when I was looking at them than they do in this picture. The next few pictures will be a minigame called find the water buffalo!
The water buffalo is in there somewhere. I wish I got a picture of the ones hiding in makeshift tent huts.
Water buffaloes like to stand in front of beautiful views in ones or twos. Or sometimes in the middle of the road right in front of your bike.
Later in the day I rode past the floating restaurant again. Oh, sorry restaurant. I didn’t realize you were just surrounded by low tide earlier.
In fact, the view is quite nice inside. Except they just served drinks, so either I came at the wrong time or it isn’t’ a restaurant. There’s also some sort of seafood farm outside, but I’m not sure what kind if it’s dry in low tide.
I saw a bunch of these all over the island. Some were alone. I couldn’t figure out if they were tomb shrines, they’re so colorful.
What would a locale with me be without food? I first had the syrupy bitter coffee of southeast asia in Laos, but it is just as delicious here. I like it cut with a layer of thick condensed milk and set over ice to cool my overheating body. They use single serving gravity dripping metal cups to make theirs here. You can’t see how full that thing is of grounds.
The highlight of being on an island is all the delicious seafood. The downside is during the weekdays so much is closed that most restaurants aren’t open and shooed us away. Many of the rest tried to serve us multiple renditions of things made with instant noodles.
We ate at our hotel restaurant a lot and they got used to us being around. They started letting us know what came in on the boats each day and even shared fruits with us. I’ve never had a rambutan cut this pretty for me!
This whole bay is beautiful. I’ll take an empty, beautiful bay over the bustling air and sound pollution of Hanoi any day.
Wikitravel is surprisingly sparse for northern Vietnam. I’ve updated the article on Quan Lan here.
These are all the websites I found with useful information about Quan Lan island: