Dec 05, 2018
I took a flight to Hanoi and then went by bus to Ninh Binh from Giap Bat Bus Station. I arrived in Ninh Binh bus station at noon. Most of the passengers had got off along the road, but there were a few left on the bus. Ninh Binh bus station is quite small; one part of it houses the refreshment area and the rest is a small waiting area with long benches cramped together. The stallholders try to entice travelers to buy refreshments.
After going to the drink stalls to buy a drink, I headed straight to Homestay Nguyen Shack. As soon as I stepped in I knew this place fitted my style. Everything here is simple, all made of bamboo, rough and not urbanized.
I spent three days here to see and experience the area. On the first day, I rode my bike to the village, crossing the picturesque countryside. The beautiful northern countryside, the banyan trees, the bamboo groves, the wells and the straight village roads surrounded by fences looking as good as anything I have seen or read in books.
The village was so peaceful when I arrived. During my stay in Ninh Binh was not very sunny although it was the dry season. The humidity was so high that it was difficult to know when laundry after being washed would be dry, while house was full of leaks and looking very dirty. On the road, sometimes I came across a herd of cattle or buffalo going to graze and the farm trucks lumbering down the country roads while the goat herd run back and forthamong his goats.
The meat of the Mountain Goat is a specialty of this area, so I stopped at the restaurant to try fried goat, baked goat in fact all the different types of goat on offer to experience the different styles and tastes. I was not brave enough to try goat blood soup as I feared that my stomach was not strong enough. The Mountain Goat meat in Ninh Binh is very delicious but it did not satisfy me enough and the price was not cheap. After eating, I returned to the inn, bathed, made coffee and then went to rest on my bed inside the mosquito net as there are many mosquitoes in that area. Listening to the frogs rhythmic croaking, I soon fell asleep straight until the next morning.
The next day was not sunny, not even a faint glow of sunshine, when I opened my eyes; it was still a bit chilly with misty clouds. Today I went round Trang An, Bai Dinh and Van Long. A cloudy day is still beautiful in its own way. Ninh Binh is very much in favor of nature. The sky was dark, the scenery even more mysterious but still beautiful. Sitting on the boat watching the surrounding environment covered by mist as if it is lost in the land of fairy tales, it is so mysterious but very peaceful.
I’ve been to Van Long before; it had a lot of fields. When I arrived in the late spring early summer, the green rice fields looked very beautiful. At that time, paddling between the two rice fields looked very inviting but now it is a different story. Listen to the paddle now that this lagoon is no longer for rice anymore but they do not plant any trees to replace so the reed grows lumpy look so ugly. The Mua Cave is next to my homestay. The next morning I got up early, had a bowl of noodles quickly to discover the cave. Personally, I like the most Mua cave the most during this time to Ninh Binh. The entrance fee is quite expensive (100k without guide ticket, maps, or water at all) but I was satisfied with the beautiful scenery here. I climbed up the Ngoa Long mountain before going to the Mua Cave. Ngoa Long mountain with more than 500 steps to climb up the mountain with a beautiful view of the hatching. I think everyone will love it like crazy and I personally voted this is the "place to go" when visiting Ninh Binh. I looked at the picturesque sky and felt I did not want to go down the mountain. The day was a bit murky, but the scenery was so beautiful,
I gazed at the scenery below longingly and then walked down the mountainthrough the green grass. I passed through a small cave about ten minutes from Tam Coc - the end point of the road. And just wading through the flooded field a little until I reached the Ngo Dong River - where visiors jumped down onto the boat to seem Coc Bich Dong. The Ngo Dong is a calm river, the boat glided gently to creating long waves in the middle of the river and with the majestic mountain as a backdrop travelers become immersed in the beautiful scenery of Ninh Binh.
At noon, I went back to the tea room, got in my hammock and swayed as I drank fragrant tea, looking at the sky and listening to the chatter of bird sound in the mountains. I wish that Ninh Binh tourist authorities knew more about what to do to promote things that are good for tourism. I wish too that the boat people would push to secure additional services in Ninh Binh as that would be so great for the region. If it doesn’t happen then I can only think it would be such a pity.
Thanks travel blogger Thien Nguyen for sharing his experience with Ask Vietnamese.
Read more details of Thien Nguyen's trip in Ninh Binh at: http://www.diladithoi.com/ghe-ninh-binh-nhung-ngay-khong-nang/
Proofreader: Mr. Alex Curtis, Civil Servant UK
Photos credited to Thien Nguyen