Gentle Ninh Binh

Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
Trip End May 17, 2009

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pictures from gentle, quiet and beautiful Ninh Binh.

What a lovely few days in Ninh Binh.  When I was the only one getting off the bus to Hanoi at 4:30 in the morning, I was wondering if perhaps this was a crazy idea and why I always seem to choose the road less travelled.  The past few days have hardened my resolve to trust my instincts.  I was getting tired of the tourist route and I have found that Vietnam has a much defined route.  About 80% of the travelers I have met here are going north to south, following the Lonely Planet Guide to the letter.  I am going in the opposite direction and am tired of the commercial stuff and wanted to see real Vietnamese people before I wrote this country off.  
For three days I have been travelling the back country by bicycle - the pace is perfect, stopping for photos, to talk to the children who call to you or who just want to ride with you and seeing and feeling the slow pace of the rural life.  The geography of this area is what drew me to it - huge limestone karsts rising up from the lush rice paddies.  Very rural, very calm.  We are not far from the Demilitarized Zone that marks the line between the North and the South during their many years of war.  Meeting the gentle people in the villages it is hard to imagine the chaos of the Vietnam War.  I remember watching the news clips on television, the body counts of the American soldiers as a kid and then the overwhelming sense of sadness when I visited the Vietnam War Memorial (the Wall) in Washington DC years ago.  It is beyond my ability to think of that American war machine massacring these tiny gentle families in their own villages' right near here.   The big American GI's, young and well fed, tossed out of airplanes into a landscape they couldn't even imagine to follow orders that made no sense......   so much recent tragedy from every side.
Part of the fun of the last few days has been sharing it with Andrea - a 34 year old Dutch girl from a town I did a student exchange in when I was 9 years old (Arnhem).  We have spent the last couple of days riding and exploring and sharing our lives and it has been really nice.  Travelling this way and spending time with people from every corner of the world really reinforces the fact that we are all the same.  Very few differences when you get beyond language and skin color and eye shape.  As they say here every two minutes.....Same, Same, but different!
Andrea is heading south to Hue tomorrow and I am heading north to Hanoi.  It rained most of the day today and we still cycled many many miles through country lanes in the fine mist.  By the time we got back tonight we were soaked to the skin and looking forward to a hot shower.  The temperature has been very cool here so I hope that will change soon.
If you could see me now you would howl:  the power is out - don't know why, it just goes out around here occasionally, so I have my headlamp on, a candle lit beside me, a bottle of orange fanta open, the balcony open to the street noises below and life feels very nice and comfortable. 
I had planned to head to Halong Bay for a cruise but it will be weather permitting as the draw there is the beauty of the landscape so if it is wet and foggy that really negates the experience.  I am also hoping to be able to kayak as part of my trip so will play it by ear.
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keith32 on

The Journey
Hey Sis
Got your email and now I will attempt to answer all your questions. First of all yes you have a new neighbor, single guy Mom says and yes they are happy. Chance is still going out with Chelsea, she just got back from Belize from a 10 day holiday. I take all your Blogs over to Mom when I get them and also try to print out the pictures so she can see you. She does worry some. Lana and I and Chance are very well , Chance doing great at College and yes I am working 2-3 days a week with the City. Yes I did get out of the market. I could not bear losing any more monies. We will get back in when things settle a little. You are missing all the snow temp is to go down to about 20 below tonight with a high of 15 below tomorrow. Oh I did not add that we may get 15cm of snow.
Pictures are fabulous. I can not believe how pretty it is over there!!! I can't wait to talk to you about your travels when you get home. Stay safe and be smart. Love you
Keith and Family

rudia on

Hi Debbie,
you are definitely having the time of your life. You look way tooo relaxed!!! What an adventure and meeting so many people! Are you planning to return to Canada anytime soon???
Take care and waiting for your next big adventure!!!
luv rudi

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