Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ninh Binh: Lakes & Pagoda

Ninh Binh is a 2 hour (Vietnamese time) bus ride from Hanoi, or 3 hours based on actual time. Buses here are slow and bumpy and that’s to put it nicely. We took a sleeper bus (completely unaware as it was mid day when we got on) and it was a pretty unique experience, beds on buses who would have thought it.

Sleeper bus for a 2 1/2 hr bus ride.

We arrived in Ninh Binh with little time to spare and took a taxi to ‘Tam Coc’ lake. There we boarded a boat and were rowed by hand and by foot along the river. It was beautiful!

The boat drivers will try to sell you stuff along the way and there are even stories of them refusing to take people back to the start of the journey if they refuse to buy something from them or from the food and drink sellers at the end of the river. Due to this people are advised to go later in the afternoon when they are tired of the nonsense of pestering foreigners. We were offered some textiles but declined, Paul stating “ I don’t even have a table, what am I going to do with a table cloth” apparently worked quite well.

Our boat man requested a tip at the end of the journey and as Kate and I were sorting through our money he began to complain about only receiving 10,000VND (about 50cents/30p). We were not going to give him just 10,000VND but this really annoyed us as he was getting quite angry and we had already paid about $5 for the boat ride. He actually snatched the 30,000VND I had in my hand from me, so Kate and I jumped off and discussed how he had just lost himself money for being an idiot.

The following day we headed to ‘Bai Dinh’ pagoda. It was pretty spectacular and has ruined every pagoda I have viewed since.  Then it was time for another bus to Halong Bay.

Touch the hands and knees for luck

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