Ninh Binh & Tam Coc

Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
1
6
144
Trip End Mar 16, 2011


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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


31 MARCH 2010 - As we say goodbye to Hanoi today, I (Mary) will miss my friends across the road bonging on we head on our sleeper bus for a 2 hr drive to Ninh Binh. We said goodbye to Miss Chau (pronounced Ciao) and the rest of the lovely staff at Hanoi Guesthouse.  Just before we headed off they asked us to join them for lunch, a lovely gesture and it was free.  

We got on the bus and Mary's first impression was "Holey Crap", I have never travelled on one of these buses before. As we board the bus we were given a plastic bag to put our shoes in. We walk down these skinniest corridor sideways to get to our sleeper.  We weren't sure which one we were allocated and then the guy mention the two top ones.  Mary wasn't happy.  How the hell was I going to climb up on this god dam sleeper.  It had the skinniest ladder and the skinniest bed so they aren't built for not so slender people like me and it definitely not fun hiking myself up to get on this sleeper, it was really awkward.  Eventually after some effort I got on top and Troy on the one next to me.  I thought how the hell am I going to like this trip. Seriously if you haven't travelled on one of these buses before its an experience, a weird one, for me not the most pleasant and comfortable mode of transport.  These buses are not built for not so slender people like me but are fine for those tiny more slender Vietnamese.  Just picture this you are travelling on the sleeper lying on your back on double decker bunks and you feel like mummies as there is hardly any room to move. Your legs up to your knees are covered and not much room to move them around and the seat is reclined and not entirely flat.  Its like you are in a dentist chair with all these bars around you, only dentist chairs are more comfortable. Also when the driver slams on the brakes quite hard and that happened quite often you end up doing sit ups.  Sounds funny but its not really.  After a while it was ok after I calmed down a bit. So as you look out the window you can see the roof tops of the trucks.  Our trip went pretty quickly (thank god) and we stopped at the hotel drop off. We were picked up by a staff member to another hotel we were staying at.  

We checked into Ngoc Anh Hotel and went to sleep.  Next day 1 April 2010 we decided to do a day tour of Tam Coc.  We got picked up by our lovely guide but she was quite hard to understand. We drove out of Ninh Binh town and our destination for the day was Tam Coc where we went to Bich Dong temple set into a rock face which had about 100 steps.  We then went to Nham village which were surrounded by rice fields and karst mountains which was pretty.  We went to Tam Coc wharf where we got on a boat and sailed up Ngo Dong river and went through more rice fields and went thru three caves. Tam Coc is known to travellers as Ha Long Bay without water (I think Halong Bay is much more stunning),  Ha Long Bay on the rice paddies.  It was a nice cruise up but as we got to the end and turned around the lady pulls out her souvenirs and what should we see god dam tablecloths.  When I saw them I felt like swearing, as if we need tablecloths, I just packed how many of them at home.  Anyway the lady was quite pushy and in the end I got a bit annoyed because we said no about 50 times.  When we got to the end she asked for a tip and when Troy gave her one she wanted more.  We heard that this place has this scam going, they ask you to buy drinks for the crew and if you buy them they do not end up drinking them, they sell them back to the seller and it just keeps happening. We were asked if we wanted to buy the crew drinks and we said no.  Another scam Troy read about in Lonely Planet guide is that they take you up the end of the river and if you don't buy any embroidery tablecloth or anything else then they will not sail you back until you do.  Troy didn't tell me about this scam till later. This didn't happen to us I don't know what we would of done.  In one way it takes the pleasure out of enjoying the cruise because they are so pushy.  

We then headed to Hoa Lu the ancient capital city about 1000 years old and there was two temples called Dinh and Le. There was tourists everywhere and lots of construction happening as they are preparing for the celebration of Vietnam turning 1000 years.  We then went to Thien Ton cave where there was row of buddas which each represent something different. It was interesting to watch so many people praying and donating money.  

We got back to our hotel where we both felt so grubby and shower was heaven.  All around Vietnam there is so much construction, so much dust, dirt and rubble and you get covered in dirt.  We went out for dinner and then returned to get our bus.  The staff at the hotel took us to the bus pickup point on the back of a scooter.  Now don't panic, the trip was very short and it was an experience and Ninh Binh is no way as near as crazy as Hanoi.  If they asked us if we wanted to go on the back of a scooter in Hanoi we would of said no but here it was fine and the trip was only a couple of blocks away. They went back to get our backpacks and bought them to us on their scooters.  

Ninh Binh was an attractive place, we only stayed here one night.  It was definitely much quieter and cleaner than Hanoi.  No photos taken of this town.
 
On our overnight sleeper bus again, this time we demanded bottom bunks.  We got on and some tourist took Troy's bed.  I wasn't happy and this guy ended up snoring really loud all god dam night so I really was tempted to lean over and punch him in the head.  Troy ended up on a top bunk bed.  So the overnight trip for Mary wasn't pleasant, all I could think was "I feel like crap, I look like crap" and Troy slept ok.  I was right next to the loo so at times the aroma wasn't pleasant.  We left Ninh Binh about 8.45pm and arrived in Hue (pronounced 'where') about 8.30am.   

   



 
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