It takes at least 45 km. to leave behind the haze of Hanoi and greet the ocean breezes of Halong Bay. We luxuriously filled our lungs with the fresh sea air. We had been away from the ocean for too long. The further we sailed from the coast the slower the pace got and four hours later we landed on remote Quan Lan Island. We explored the end of the island opposite the ferry pier, past women digging clams and men breaking up road rock by hand. Continuing on for miles to the end of the road we happened on a couple of tiny remote villages. A leisurely walk amongst the fields, through the family cemetery, and along the beach is an interesting way to catch everyone in action on Quan Lan; tending the crops, collecting seafood along the shore, and making brooms or large briquettes from the coal-tar in nearby Cua Ong. The genuine friendliness and laid-back ambience of this quiet island makes it a must-visit for anyone with some extra time.