We hopped on a tour bus at 8am. I am always hypnotized by the traffic. A little old lady with a cane slowly wandered out into the hectic traffic. Everyone veered around her. She walked as though alone in a field.
Hanoi has 7 million people and 5 million motorbikes.
It’s a 2 1/2 hour drive to Ninh Binh Province. On the way there we pass many rice fields and thousands upon thousands of white geese. Looks like they might be a dietary staple.
Our first stop was Hoa Lu, Vietnam’s first and now ancient capital. The countryside is beautiful; rounded mountains, rice fields with farmers, geese, water buffalo and goats.
John and I biked with some of the group to the temples and through the countryside while Cora took the bus with the rest of the group and went to the temples. The bikes were a tad rickety and I wished we would have stopped a bit more often to take pictures. Biking was the perfect way to see the area.
Our lunch consisted of many dishes local to the area including goat. We ate family style with a couple of Swedish brothers who were also on our tour.
Our next stop was Tam Coc river where the three of us boarded a row boat rowed by one older woman. It took us a while before we realized that she was rowing with her feet and legs. Most of the other rowers were doing it the same way which left their hand free. Most just crossed their arms across their chests as they rowed but then there was the efficient achiever who was doing her mending while she rowed or the king of chill who was having a beer and cigarette while he rowed.
The scenery was gorgeous and the light mist gave it an other worldly feel. We passed geese, pigs and goats that were walking up the mountain. We also passed small family cemeteries and graves beside the river.
The river ran right through and under three limesone mountains by low caves where we had to watch that we didn’t bump our heads. It was an enchanting afternoon.
Then back on the bus for the 2 1/2 hour ride back to Hanoi. The traffic was horrendous.
I did see some more interesting signage at the temple:
John was not feeling well so we looked for a restaurant that served something light. We found a place that served soup. We didn’t realize until we got in that they only served dessert soups...who’d have thought? They were very different and surprisingly good. I had sweet banana soup.
We then waited for our ride to take us to our overnight sleeper train to Sapa.