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Around Ninh Binh

Mit Jens

overcast 22 °C

I had slightly greater expectations of Ninh Binh, but I believe those expectations may have been tainted by previous travels, especially to China. First, all the towns essentially look the same here, so Ninh Binh made no first impression. It's big and noisy and dusty like the others and it's generally quite ugly. The reason to visit is to hire a bike or Motorbike and meander through the rice-paddy littered countryside outside the town.

The view from my room (not quite indicative of the town):

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The countryside is somewhat tainted by Vietnamese ambition to make things bigger and better and more touristy. Lakes have been created, temples built and the karst hillsides have been blasted away to make better roads. I suspect that villages on the outskirts of Ninh Binh will soon disappear into the limestone cement shadows. Pity.

Nevertheless, a day meandering on a motorbike was pleasant enough, despite the weather being dodgy. The countryside dissolved into the greyness leaving it seeming despondent and relenting and rather unable to express itself as fully as it could. Loudspeakers blurting out what I assume to be propaganda in villages also altered any authenticity I had hoped for and left me feeling a tad uncomfortable.

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Jens, a German traveller I met up with here, and I explored a little. We were advised to visit about 10 caves and many Pagodas (temples). We went to one- a Pagoda in a cave, had lunch and a beer, and then went for a long boat ride up what we hoped is a genuine river through the limestone hills.

Das ist Jens und ich (getting petrol):

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I'd recommend it if you have extra time and if you find the Chinese too odd to bypass in an effort to get to somewhere exquisite like Yangshuo. Alternatively, it could be quite fun if you get stoned.

Here is the good part of the experience. Quality is compromised by the monotoned weather:

Another one on the bike:

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My lunch and one of the flies in my beer:

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Bich Dong Pagoda. We couldn't quite hear every detail from the other peoples' hired tour guide, but the Chinese had a significant influence here:

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The river excursion:

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Our rower, who likely didn't like us because we refused to buy anything, especially the undersized embroidered t-shirts that every other tourist seemed to fall for:

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Jens and I laughing at the entire experience:

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Posted by JayneHol 04:45 Archived in Vietnam Tagged boat vietnam countryside tourist backpacking motorbike ninh_binh

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