Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ninh Binh

Quite a few clothing stalls and lots of markets selling fruit and meat

Wrap up warm during December/beginning of January

After arriving at the train station we were approached by a man who offered us a card of a hotel called 'New Mini Queen Hotel' and he asked us to follow him there. We queried the price and he said it would be $2.50 a night each. As it was so close to the train station we all decided to have a look at a room.

The boys room was huge, with four double beds inside. Ours had a standard double with a single bed also. We ended up bartering from $7 to $6 a night as opposed to the $2.50 the others had secured, which was because they had four people sharing the room and so that cut the cost slightly. The room was decent with hot running water and free wi-fi downstairs. The staff here were exceptionally helpful and friendly.

Our room at New Mini Queen Hotel

Ian, Jason and I went to have a look around the town area. It was quite busy, mainly with road traffic but it did have quiet a few shops, mainly targeted at the locals. There were not many tourists here, i didn't see any bars and all the restaurants served local food which gave us a slice of the 'real' Vietnam. 

The weather was pretty bleak and after a few hours of walking around random streets and markets and eating some food we headed back to the hotel for an early night

I have no idea why someone has drawn black eyebrows onto this poor dog!

Cheeky banana man

The following day we hired mopeds from the hotel we were staying at, paying 100,000d for the day. We headed to 'Trang An' and from there paid 80,000d each to hire two boats and a tour guide to take us sight seeing around the river. 

Slowly, our guide paddled us down the river with much of the views being the incredible limestone karsks, before drifting into these wonderful water caves.

Aaron, Jason and Luke on their boat

Inside the cave

Altogether the trip lasted a couple of hours. Had the weather been better then the scenery would have been even more amazing.

After some lunch we rode to 'Bai Dinh'. The views along the way were really interesting with the roads being easy to ride along and almost clear of busy traffic. Most of Bai Dinh is in the middle of being constructed so i can imagine that in a few years time it will be bustling with more tourists.

We never found the Pagoda but saw an attraction on the left hand side of the main road and parked up. We walked up the many steps that led us to a intriguing cave with a Buddhist shrine inside. There were people praying but we were allowed inside and took photos of the unique features that had been built around the cave. We looked around as much of the area as we could and found another cave with a similar sort of shrine and Buddha.

The dragon inside one of the caves

We didn't get time to visit any other attractions as by now it had started to get darker and a lot colder. We were also concerned about the level of traffic once we had reached the main roads into the town and wanted to avoid it.

After an early night we had planned on hiring the mopeds again and riding around to visit various destinations that we had missed the previous day. But sadly the weather had worsened and the temperature had dropped even lower. Nobody could bring themselves to ride around on the bikes and we ended up spending most of our time in the hotel, researching our next destinations.

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