. We rowed through two more of these tunnels, each smaller than the previous. It was a warm day and a pleasant way to spend some time. Once we reached the end, the boats all turned around, and the old woman sprang into action. It was time to sell embroidery! The rower seemed to slow down, and the pleading for us to by seemed endless. The work she was selling was not very hot in my opinion, but we felt somewhat obligated as the tour had covered the cost of the ride. So we agreed that if they stopped hawking the stitchery, we would offer them a tip once we returned to the dock. Of course they wanted more than we were offering, but so it goes, day by day. Sometimes I feel like they think I am an ATM.
The next day, we borrowed two bicycles from the hotel and headed out toward Ninh Binh. a few Kilometers out of town we took a left and followed some signs to a temple we had seen the day before from the river, It was called Huang Mua and was set on the top of a local mountain ridge. We climbed the 490+ steps to the top and found the views worth the effort. On the ride out to the site, we passed past homes and farms, teaming with ducks, goats and chickens. Farmers were running their small Chinese tractors in the rice paddies preparing for the next planting. You could see the family homes, with small shrines behind, and a grave site for relatives who had already passed on in their backyards.
We will go from here back to Hanoi for an overnight, then on to the coast for a three day/two night cruise on a junk style boat. We will spend one of the nights on shore at a hotel. I hope to rent a bike while barb treks in the National Park on Cat Ba Island. I'll try and shot a couple of videos while I ride the backroads. Then we return to Hanoi and wi fly out to Vientane Laos on the 17th. I am behind in my posts and it may get worse as the connections will likely get slower and slower as I go further out back in the boonies of Laos. Gotta run, Tom
We took a bus from Hanoi through Ninh Binh to Tam Coc. We stayed in a hotel across the street from the "put in " for an industry of paddlers, who would, for a fee , row you through the mountainous Charsts rising up from the rice paddies. Some call this place a "Halong Bay" without the sea, as the geology is similar. Beautiful, majestic spires rising up vertically. The limestone gets eroded easily with water, therefore there are caves and tunnels under the mountains. You are actually rowed through the caves by women rowers, who all seemed to be accompanied by an elderly assistant. The older woman did not row much,as there was not a lot of current. We were wondering why she was there, but as we read the lonely planet her purpose soon became clear. We rowed for several kilometers. The first tunnel was 70 meters long and 20 meters wide. After the tunnel, w could see rice paddies on either side of the river, with workers preparing the paddies by building dikes, laying out lines of sticks that designated property rights, and actually sowing seed and planting seedlings