Vietnam – Ninh Binh – The beauty of nature

– NOVEMBER 11-13, 2015

We have finished our time at Hue, but our overnight sleeper bus doesn’t leave until 5pm.  Early morning was a good time to venture into the local coffee shop named “Vancouver Café & Game” for a morning pick-me-up.

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Hue City Café aptly named the Vancouver Café

A couple of days ago Jill scraped a toe on her right foot and it looked innocent enough.  Today it apparently got infected and started to look pretty nasty.  We have had an amazing run of luck the past 8+ months with avoiding any injuries, so this is minor visit to the doctors office could have been worse in theory (we have met other travellers who ignored infected wounds and they became a much bigger problem for them later).  We went to the local International Hospital where coincidentally hardly anyone spoke English, nobody worked at reception, and anyone we could find did not want to help us.  No worries, as we used finger puppets and sign language to figure out that reception wasn’t manned, but if you went to triage bay #7 you could speak to a doctor to get you started (again it makes no sense why a proper system was provided but they do it a different way that makes no sense).  They cleaned out her infected toe, wrapped it up, and then provided a prescription for the infection.  In the end we got it cleared up in plenty of time to head to the 5pm bus departure time.

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The doctor working on cleaning Jill’s infected toe. Note how she is squeamish and he is smiling.

After the hospital stop we went back to the hotel, grabbed some food and our bags, then made our way to the bus station.  The hotel part-owner, who adopted the name of Kenny for his English name, offered to drive Jill the 4 blocks on his scooter so we could avoid a taxi expense.

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Jill getting a ride to the bus station with her injured toe.

We rode the overnight sleeper bus and arrived at Ninh Binh at 4:30am, a horrible arrival time when everything was closed.  Luckily there was a taxi at the bus stop, so we negotiated a price (as you NEVER just assume the taxi meter is honest…you need to always agree on a price before hand).  We rode to our hotel and waited for the run to rise so we could see the beautiful sights.  The hotel staff didn’t have our room available for us, but they saw just how tired we were so they brought us free coffee/tea and gave us a different room to have a sleep in until noon, then we could move to our booked room.  These hotel staff were amazing and really made our stay in Ninh Binh a remarkable time.

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Our view from the Ninh Binh hotel breakfast table.

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Goat was a specially prepared meal in Ninh Binh, so there were goats everywhere in this town.

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Ninh Binh harbour

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Ninh Binh harbour

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Ninh Binh woodworkers

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Bathrooms in Vietnam can have strange configurations. This toilet in the middle of the room is something good architecture doesn’t allow. This looks like something an architecture graduate on their first job would design with the leftover space on a floor plate.

After some much needed rest we rented some bicycles and rode the 6km out to Hang Muo, a 500 step climb up a mini-mountain for some spectacular views.

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The entrance gate to Hang Muo access road.

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Views on the Hang Muo access road.

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Views on the Hang Muo access road.

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Views on the Hang Muo access road.

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Views on the Hang Muo access road.

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Views on the Hang Muo access road.

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Hang Muo park statue

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Hang Muo park statue

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Hang Muo park statue

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Hang Muo park statue & seating area.

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Hang Muo park cave entrance

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Hang Muo park cave

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Hang Muo park cave back access

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After walking through the cave you exit the back to see this amazing view.

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Within the cave is the Pearl Spring

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Pearl Spring tunnel access

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Pearl Spring water pool

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Jill walking to the start of the 500 step climb of Hang Muo

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

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Hang Muo, the lying dragon mountain

After a bicycle ride back into town, we bought some water and snacks then biked the 8km out to the Bird Park named “Khu Du Lich Sinh Thai Vuon Chim Thung Nham”, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll just call it the Bird Park.

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Bike ride out to the Bird Park.

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Bike ride out to the Bird Park.

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Bike ride out to the Bird Park.

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Bike ride out to the Bird Park.

Once we arrived at the Bird Park and bought our tickets, we rode the bikes through the park to see the various water features and forest area for some great sights.

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Bird Park views

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Bird Park views

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Bird Park views

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Bird Park views

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Bird Park views

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Bird Park views

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Bird Park views

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Bird Park views

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The Buddha Cave

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave.

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The Buddha Cave – The park ticket includes a boat ride through the Buddha Cave. The rower stopped the boat in the middle of the lake to try and get money out of us. I refused and he kept insisting on money, not asking but rather demanding money. This is Vietnam over and over.

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave – 50 steps get you to the Mermaid Cave entrance.

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Mermaid Cave entrance

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Mermaid Cave entrance

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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Mermaid Cave

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The Thousand Year Old Tree

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The Thousand Year Old Tree

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The Thousand Year Old Tree

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The Thousand Year Old Tree

The Bird Park also had an orchard where visitors could pick their own fruit (but it wasn’t fruit picking season for us), other small caves, and some smaller walking paths.  We covered the whole park, but these were the best pictures to show.  Tomorrow we will be taking an afternoon bus and ferry ride to arrive at the island of Cat Ba.

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For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.