Preparing for the next solo travel to Ninh Binh, the land that carries the mountain and river, very impressive and unpolluted, my heart could not be uneager…
In fact I had a trip to Ninh Binh Vietnam from 2014, before King Kong planned to record in Vietnam. I am writing this to share some memories and experiences in my solo backpack trip.
Previously I went to Ninh Binh thrice. Because of the famous Bai Dinh pagoda in Ninh Binh so after Tet holiday and the beginning of the New Year there are a lot of four directions visitors. People arrived to the place that was named “on land Ha Long” and essentially visit some venues: Bai Dinh pagoda, Hoa Lu ancient capital, Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Trang An. But I visited those venues so many times, hence this trip in 2 days 1 night turned into another different branch!
At that time, in March, the Tet has gone for roughly a month, the ideal time to perform all the planned trips because of the dry, cool, no hot no cold weather. I concluded to take a passenger bus, the stretch of road from Hanoi to Ninh Binh Vietnam is around 120km, every person costed 4 USD per ticket. You SHOULD catch a bus from the North Hanoi bus station, or Nuoc Ngam bus station. From Dec 2016 every passenger was assigned to their own jet to prevent traffic jam, you have to noted this.
If you are wandering to find the bus, there are the motorbike taxi that appeared to come to get into conversation with you and suggest to take you to the located of the bus please say NO! The first time you came to the strange bus station, still get stuck to find the bus so the solution is arrived earlier and be patient to ask about the way to be there. Cos he just take you to that place quickly for 1 USD! I immediately remembered the lesson that called STUPID MONEY!
In fact, every trip of mine also had STUPID MONEY, around 5 USD ~ 10 USD! The more, the less money but no lesson repeated itself. When estimated for the trip, I noted into it 10 USD for STUPID MONEY anyway! If back without spending those number, you can consider that you are mature a lot!
I decided to move from Sunday morning, and came back on Monday evening to reduce the pressure of booking.com in the high times.
I reserved before 3-4 days, after calling for surveying and choose the venue, the surprising cheap price about 10 USD for 40 hours (roughly 2 days). I exchanged about my check-in time at 10 a.m – 5 p.m the day after for the fee with the hotel owner? Cos the weekdays are less visitors so they agreed. But if at the weekend you had to pay in 2 days. The hotel is beautiful, new, tiny cute and a lot of foreigners chose to be here.
You can book the hotel room at Booking.com, there are a lot of advantages and price comparing. Especially the foreigners who making hard to bargain money and information.
My venues for traveling are Mua Cave, Thung Nang, Thung Chim, Phát Diệm Cathedral, Van Long Lagoon…
In the morning I caught a passenger to Ninh Binh (Vietnam) at 10 a.m. At Ninh Binh, I chose the vehicle to be on intimate is… motorbike taxi driver and bus. I asked the hotel to suggest a prestige motorbike taxi driver and told him about my 2 days scheduled then asked for the price. After bargaining for a while, the price was 10 USD /day.
The foreigners or someone that not deal with motorbike can choose this way to mobile, and experience the motorbike cultural of Vietnam.
Mua Cave (Hang Múa) located on the rocky mountain. When hiking up, you can launch your eyesight to zoom in the whole Tam Coc – Bich Dong (Tam Cốc – Bích Động) wonderful scenery. If in the harvest, April, May, you can see the dying yellow of the rice-field under the valley, limitless bright. Here, they created some mini sights, plants, statues for you to take picture. I hiking by myself, on the way I met no one! So it was the unique gland, unique day, so the road was spacious. When preparing to go back I met the 2 foreigners that began to hike up. The ticket to enter into the cave was 1,5 USD. At this time, the price to enter into the cave is 5 USD/ person.
The beauty of Ninh Binh didn’t have to talk much, interpose mountains. The mountains that far away and row on row, limitless constant, the twisty meek river. The field spread to 4 directions as far as the eye can see. The end of horizon, some white wings floating in the air. I was taking and talking with the motorbike taxi driver, asking if he lived near the township, how long he drove motorbike taxi, and asked if he often carried the foreigners?… He said his house is nearby the hotel, he drove around 10 years, this time the passengers are rising up so he earns more. And he also said that carrying the foreigner is quite interesting, but he can’t talk to them. So…he tried to take photo as beautiful as he could to help them capturing!
The way to Thung Nang (Thung Nắng) – as beautiful as its name, I saw a lot of foreigners that rent bicycles on the road. The more I entered, the more foreigners, the fast food shops such as Lotteria or the modern cafeteria appeared in close proximity. I felt that the land is changing a lot, it became more and more modern, a lot of corner is not different than the crowd Saigon. Thung Nang is a small stream that flew through the mountain like Trang An, but not as large and rich as that. The beginning of the parking area included a lot of ladies waiting to be your boatman, waving for visitors. Normally, a boat can carry 2-4 persons, but at this time I was alone, so I had to pay more than usual 5 USD. If you are going in group, divided will be cheaper… Currently, the tour fee was included: beauty spot ticket 1 USD/ person – children 0,5 USD/ child. The ferry fee is 3 USD/ one/ 4 Vietnamese tourists – 3 USD/ ferry/ 2 foreigners.
Sitting on the boat of Thung Nang, the boatman lady showed me the faraway mountain is the place where the flocks of bird, flocks of stork reside, she said in the afternoon around 5.30 p.m, a lot of bird come to this place, full of white wings on the sky. I asked for information about her family, to see how many voyage she gets a day? What she does normally? How many kids she has? She replied that she is a farming lady, sometimes the whole village do boating in shifts for visitors but earn not much and she has 3 children at this time…
To the center of the stream, I “insistently asked” her to let me borrow the dar to try to row. After a few seconds hesitated, she accepted. So I performed it right after that! The 2 rower were not steady so the boat kept rotating. She guided, I follow and repeat but the situation was still not better. I took a look at her carefully and focus to do the same but the boat was still opinionated, it didn’t forward, and the dar came out. So I asked for some…photos to pretend! After 5 mins playing for a while, I “handed in” the dar back to her, resigned to my fate on the boat to enjoy the nature.
The uninhabited river, just some boat moved heaven and earth. The Vietnamese visitor cannot be found, just the lady boatman, the translator and I am the unique local!
Thung Chim was invested and built its own ecological, has greeting gate, the way to get in was the concrete. Inside has subdivision, included the visit articles, taking photos, it’s suitable for the Team Building. The ticket price is 5 USD/ person, after 5 p.m, the ticket discount to 3 USD. When I came it was 5 p.m so I just spent 3 USD. If you visited to join the activities and discover, you had better to visit them earlier, cos this place is worthy for a whole day experience. And I essentially came for… the birds, so I was randomly get the 3 USD for the blast one! I rent a bicycle to ride around because the sky was getting darker, I was in a hurry to ride to the center one, find the best place to enjoy the getting back bird.
More information about the ticket price: 5 USD/ person, the kids that tall under 0.8 m will be free – the kids from 0.8-1.3 m: 50% of the price. The kids over 1.3 m has the same price as adult. The boat ticket to visit Vuon Chim 1 USD/ visitor, ticket to get into Hang But 1 USD/visitor.
Thung Chim (also called Thung Nham) has a lot of interesting points, so when wandering around I tried to take advantage of scraping round Ba Co cavern, 1000 years Streblus, Vai Gioi cavern, But cave, the Moving Banian Tree…
I was walking and met a student unexpectedly – the one who being an internship here. Because of her I was taken some photo before the sunset. That girl is also guide me to the right place to contemplate the bird.
A little later, the bird flied back showing the very white wings. Every flocks, every small group perched on the bamboo bushes on the stream. But what a pity the bird was not as much as I imagined. I didn’t know whether the perched bird were thick enough so the branch was bent by the advertisement photos or not!
The native land landscape was so uncanny peaceful. The singing bird called each other make the tide became more and more hubbub. The bird flying back more and more when the sunshine was close to down! The bird here is variety, stork, cauldron, heron, teal, common teal, magpie-robin… Especially there are 2 valuable and rare kinds of bird was written in the Red Book, they are Crane longevity and Phoenix, one of the relics in the four supernatural creatures: Dragon-Unicorn-Tortoise-Phoenix as Vietnamese tradition.
I was stunned and at a loss to contemplate the bird until the sky completely dark!
The motorbike taxi was waiting for me at the gate! Cos today taking contemplate is not satisfied so I decided, tomorrow will stand back the time to see the gigantic scene with my eyes again.