Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Vietnam (Day 15) Motorbiking Ninh Binh

WOW!! I know I keep exclaiming it, but everything has been so WOW on this trip. This morning, we met our guide (pre-booked off the internet communicating by email) for the next 4 days - Toan.  

But, first we discovered that the complimentary breakfast at Tam Coc Garden is AWESOME.  You order whatever you want off a menu and the selection is all things you could possibly want.  We may or may not have eaten 3 breakfasts each.  See ya later Bungalow 12, we met Toan in the lobby at  8:30am ready for some adventure!

Home Sweet Home Bungalow 12

He showed up with 3 other guys and 4 motorbikes. We sorted the pairings and helmets.  Yes, I was nervous after hearing so many stories of ill-fated tourists, but shrugged it off and threw caution to the wind. And, off we went for a full day of motor biking from site to site. 

Woo hoo! It was awesome - we were a force to be reckoned with with our gang of 4 bikes zipping up, down, and all around the countryside.  Exhilarating time had by all!

We started with a 2-hour boat ride through Trang An, an ecological UNESCO World Heritage site of cave complex (some really tight spots in those caves!!), mountains, river and pagodas and temples. It was absolutely stunning and the caves were an incredible experience. This is where King Kong: Skull Island was filmed!! 

Afterwards, we motorbiked to a restaurant for lunch. Refueled with energy to continue, we then explored temples of the Dinh and Le Dynasty learning fascinating tales of royal scandal from Toan. 

We continued to the archaeological site of the original palace floors.  This was pretty neat to see and I think it was at this point that Rob began to really appreciated having Toan as a guide as we spent a very long time around here. 

It was getting hot, so the girls and I rested in the shade while Rob and Toan meandered their way towards us at a snail's pace.  I could sense the girls losing their steam in the heat, but Toan said we would cool off with some motorbiking as we headed to our last spot. That sounded good, so back on the bikes!

Roadside exploring!  We really loved the ease of the motorbikes for stopping here and there just to explore random finds on the side of the road.  Kids absolutely had a blast! Learned about some interesting things.

At one point, I nearly spun my head around full circle when we passed these water buffalos. My driver noticed and turned around so I could get a closer look. I got off the bike and walked all the way to the edge of the water to see them. There were a few guys sitting by the roadside that I assumed were their owners. Really enjoyed these simple moments. Back on the bike, my driver drove at break-neck speed to catch up to the group. I couldn't figure out if he was worried about catching up to stay together or if perhaps he had no idea where Toan was taking us next. Hahahaha, he probably would have been embarrassed if he had to call to find them.

Our final spot was Bich Dong, which comprises 3 levels of pagodas with the top one inside a cave full of bats. It was definitely worth the climb up all those steep steps. The kids were fantastic the whole day in the heat.  Our cooling towels were key! 

It turned out to be a brilliant decision to see the area by motorbikes and we really had a splendid time zipping through the dirt back roads of the countryside. The kids definitely earned their pool time!

We are heading off the grid in the morning to Pu Luong Nature Reserve for trekking and a couple of homestays with Thai ethnic minority hill tribe families, but will return back to our same accommodation in a few days.

Up Next: Trekking Day 1: Off The Beaten Path