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Bicycling & Rowing in Beautiful Ninh Binh

Arrived in Ninh Binh at 5.30am after 12 1/2 hours on the sleeper ( Not!!) bus. We had the top bunks at the back of the bus & the air con was freeezing & the ride even bumpier than usual - the roads were really bad!!! Spent the first couple of hours talking to Robert from Slovenia & then the monks on the other side of Nathan wanted to share their lollies with us. Lights went out after our dinner stop & then it was lots of tossing & turning & little sleeping!!

We arrived to it being still dark & 3 other people hopped off as well. ( they were from Austria). A moto driver showed up & had a hotel card so Nath & I decided to go with him after realising he could not speak english & take us to the guesthouse we wanted to go to. On the way heard these loudspeakers VERY loud at major intersections. Apparently at 6am every morning they receive local news, and encouragement from the government on different issues. Part of being a communist government ... they get updates on what the government is doing for them. Booked in & was $12 a night for big air con room. We both crashed for a few hours sleep. Nath would have slept all day but I woke him at 10.30am.

Grabbed a fresh hot baguette with cheese for brekkie & paid $2 each to rent some bicycles. We were given a map on how to ride to the river & caves at Tam Coc, pointed in the right direction but soon reealized we were lost!!! Showed our mud map to at least 6 people who would point us in the right direction till eventually we got back on track.. We ended up doing the first section on the highway & the noise of the buses & trucks tooting as they go past is full on - their horns are much louder & more intense than ours & they use them more than once!!!. Nath is hating the horns with a passion!

The countryside is rice paddies & limestone karst mountains with sheer cliffs that rise straight up out of the rice fields, houses are built adjoining them & some homes even utilised the adjoining caves where possible. This area is called the "inland Halong Bay". The villages are all built of stone with stone walls & winding little alleys with children playing, chickens & ducks & dogs. Everywhere people were drying the rice that had just been harvested - across the roads & in their front yards & straw to make into hay was drying out across the streets & would totally cover sections of the road. Loved riding through the villages & seeing how they lived.

Went to the river where we paid 60,000 Dong each ( $4) to do the 2 hour rowing boat ride through the 3 caves & past the stunning karst scenery.

The lady rowing our boat was 80- years old & so fit!! Another lady did some side paddling & trying to sell us the local embroidered wares. I had a go at rowing & was hopeless - Grandma put me totally to shame! Nath didn't do much better when he had a go! Then she did the hat trick & started rowing the oars with her feet" bicycling" & could go even faster!!!

It was really hot in the sun & so going through the caves was beautiful & cool - the first one went under this huge mountain for 180 metres. When we reached the 3rd cave there was of course the persistent food & drink sellers. They are so intense here in Vietnam & do not take no for an answer. Even the locals will tell you not to engage in conversation when they ask where you are from!

Grabbed a late lunch at 3pm & then head home along the backroads ( the ones we were meant to come here on). Was a beautiful ride through stone villages, past rice fields being harvested ( such hard work), always with the karst mountains as a backdrop. We didn't see another westerner & with a few stops showing our map to locals we were pointed in the right direction & made it back to town.

Did a bit of an explore around town & have got used to riding amongst the crazy chaos of traffic that is typical of Asia!!! The streets were busy with markets, food stalls & lots of school students riding home from school.

Had dinner at our guesthouse & joined 3 New Zealanders for dinner. Deena, Mal & Jacob are travelling boaties based in Malaysia & have been travelling for 12 years on their 36 foot boat! Interesting people & aged 60 - 71 years! Then met 3 Austrian students that are 24 & studying medicine & architecture. They ended up being the ones that got off the same bus as us this morning. Spent the night talking & now it 10pm so need to get my blog done!! Than Thuys Guesthouse 128 Le Hong Phong St. Get off bus & go left up this main road a couple of blocks & then right Mr Tuc 0915 178 903

hotelthanthuy@gmail.comQueen Hotel 116 Hang Bac St

Karst scenery

Karst scenery


Village store

Village store


Boats at Tam Coc

Boats at Tam Coc


Cute Bridge

Cute Bridge


That is all on 1 motorbike!

That is all on 1 motorbike!


Our 80 year old rowing Grandma!!

Our 80 year old rowing Grandma!!


Nath didn't do much better!

Nath didn't do much better!


Nath with his lily pad hat

Nath with his lily pad hat


Me trying to row & not doing well!

Me trying to row & not doing well!


Did better at the side paddling but didn't la

Did better at the side paddling but didn't la


Tranqil scenery

Tranqil scenery


Going to the 3 caves

Going to the 3 caves


Loving the serenity!!!

Loving the serenity!!!


In the cave

In the cave


More caves

More caves


Grandma showing off by rowing with her feet

Grandma showing off by rowing with her feet


Coming out of a cave

Coming out of a cave


Beautiful

Beautiful


Other boats

Other boats


Tired of rowing!

Tired of rowing!


Food & drink boat sellers

Food & drink boat sellers


Chipmunk face

Chipmunk face


Sheer cliffs

Sheer cliffs


Into another cave

Into another cave


Villages

Villages


Rice & straw drying on the road

Rice & straw drying on the road


Local men under the meeting tree

Local men under the meeting tree


Burning off some straw

Burning off some straw


Riding home by the river

Riding home by the river


Working in the rice fields

Working in the rice fields


Lots of straw on road

Lots of straw on road


Rice harvesting

Rice harvesting


Stone villages

Stone villages


Ox coming down streets of Ninh Binh town

Ox coming down streets of Ninh Binh town


View of Ninh Binh

View of Ninh Binh


More karst scenery

More karst scenery


So peaceful!

So peaceful!


Stone lane ways

Stone lane ways


Village Corner Store

Village Corner Store


Beautiful karst mountains

Beautiful karst mountains


Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery


Tam Coc

Tam Coc


Boats at Tam Coc

Boats at Tam Coc


All this on 1 motorbike!

All this on 1 motorbike!


Our 80 year old rower!

Our 80 year old rower!


Nath didn't do much better!

Nath didn't do much better!


Trying to row & doing it really badly!

Trying to row & doing it really badly!


Nath in his lily pad hat they gave him

Nath in his lily pad hat they gave him


Having a go at side paddling

Having a go at side paddling


Nath & I

Nath & I


In our rowboat

In our rowboat


Going through a cave

Going through a cave


Grandma showing off with her "feet rowing"

Grandma showing off with her "feet rowing"


Another cave

Another cave


Chipmunk face

Chipmunk face


The food & drink sellers

The food & drink sellers


Quite beautiful

Quite beautiful


Resting from rowing

Resting from rowing


Riding through vilages

Riding through vilages


The village meeting place

The village meeting place


The old men talking & playing chess

The old men talking & playing chess


Burning off straw on the roads

Burning off straw on the roads


Lots of straw drying out

Lots of straw drying out


Backgrounds from Tam Coc home

Backgrounds from Tam Coc home


Late afternoon

Late afternoon


Harvesting the rice

Harvesting the rice


More rice fields

More rice fields


An ox on the Ninh Binh streets!

An ox on the Ninh Binh streets!


Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh


Riding to Tam Coc

Riding to Tam Coc


Village past Tam Coc

Village past Tam Coc


Stone village

Stone village


Village

Village

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in Vietnam

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