Backpacking in Asia #5: Ninh Binh!

The next destination after Halong Bay was Ninh Binh. Also a place with lots of water, but different than Halong Bay. We heard that Ninh Binh centre was not that special to stay in, so we decided to sleep in a place a bit more cosy: Tam Coc.

We were doubting about hiring a motorbike there, so we talked with the owner of our hotel about it. I have my driver license, but I am not experienced with motorbikes. He said it was not the smartest moment to rent a motorbike for the first time. The roads were really busy because of a national holiday. Therefore, we decided to explore Ninh Binh the Dutch way: with bicycles. So there we were, cycling through the rice fields in Tam Coc, exploring temples with our bicycles and trying to make nice pictures while washing the sweat of our face. It was beautiful. After having some lunch on a beautiful place where we could see lots of tourists exploring Ninh Binh by boat, we cycled to the supermarket. I really looked forward to visit a supermarket here because I love to see all the different kind of products. And I love food of course.

So far, the roads were okay to cycle on. But then our big adventure started. In the Netherlands, I am used to special roads for bicycles. But of course in Vietnam, they don´t have them. We had to cycle on the highway to enter the supermarket. My mom and I looked at eachother with the same thought. Are we going to enter the highway or not? Fuck it, we thought. So we entered the highway with our bikes, while we saw the sky getting darker and darker. We were waiting to cross over the road while we saw our hotel owner on a motorbike. What a coincidence, I thought. But it turned out he specially came on his motorbike to bring us ponchos. It was so sweet! Of course, at this moment we already had to know the weather was gonna be shit. But we just kept cycling to the supermarket (with food in mind of course). And then it started. Our first tropical rain. I don´t care if I get wet from the rain, but I worried about my camera. Therefore I used the poncho for my camera and I looked like I just came out of the swimming pool. When it started to rain even harder, we went hiding under a roof. It turned out to be the roof of an energy company. When I saw a security guard, I thought he was angry we were standing there. But then he opened a big door for us. We could hide for the rain at the company. And then instead of in the supermarket, we were in an energy company drinking cups of tea with the security guards. It was so random. I loved it. When the rain stopped we cycled back. Lots of Vietnamese people were laughing at us. One guy was looking dirty at me and said ´hi´. At that moment he got hit by another motorbike and the cage on his motorbike that was meant for chicken felt of. Karma, they say. When we were back at the hotel, one of the owners asked us if we met heaven. What we experiences didn´t really look like heaven, so we didn´t understand. It turned out Google Translate left us in the dark. She meant to say: ´´Did you meet the rain?´´ And yes, we did.

The next day we wanted to visit some places that were to far to visit on the bicycle: The Bai Dinh temple and Trang An. The really sweet hotel owner brought us on his motorbike to this places. At least, that was the plan. But first the motorbike got stuck and the tire needed to be fixed. But at the end, it was all fine! The motorbike was living again and we arrived at the Bai Dinh temple. The temple was beautiful, but for some weird reason we were the only western people here. We dressed up in longer clothes, but still people were looking at us like we were monkeys. Anyway, there were no monkeys (or mabye there were, us) and the temple was beautiful! We also visited Trang An, where lots of people go on boats to explore the nature of Ninh Binh. We didn´t do it, because I think it was way to touristic. The line for the boats was more than an hour long.

When we were back at the hotel, we ate delicious rice with vegetables and packed our bags. After this, we payed for our stay. And for the motor I thought, so I expected that we had to pay a lot. But then it turned out he didn´t ask anything for bringing us with the motorbike to the places. It was so sweet! We gave him a big tip and he was so grateful. After this I asked if he could call us a taxi to go to the night train. While we were waiting for the taxi, he said that it was too hard to get a taxi. He brought us on the motorbike. It was a great experience to stay at a place where they are so helpful, despite the language barrier. I will not forget it soon. Just as almost dying while cycling on a highway.

In my next blog: sleeping in a ´first class´ night train, the most funny beach experience ever and Hoi An.



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