Tam Coc And Annie McIntosh
18.04.2012 - 19.04.2012 25 °C
I know I have talked about the joys of watching a Asian -in fact any city- come alive in the morning but I can't think of many places better to watch from than a road side cafe. When the sun grows in the streets fill with people. Motorbikes and scooters fill the streets and the once quiet peaceful streets are replaced by the beating heart of the city. The energy fills your senses and you feel a part of the city. I only tell you this because this feeling that I get is normally a exciting tingle I get, a catalyst to start exploring, but this day it did not. The energy was there but it was only then that I felt that even though I was going to miss this city, it was time to move on! But where to?
After we where kicked off at the road side of our destination and find a hotel, we head out for a couple of drinks and try and get a feel for the town. We find a bar and go in, this little waitress turns up with the biggest smile on her face which slowly turns to terror when we start to order in English. She was the sweetest thing but every time she came to our table the look of a rabbit caught in the headlights came over her face but she was so nice and tried so hard it has engrained her in my heart forever because of how sweet she was just by the look of terror from white people.
It was all the way up to mid morning until I decided where my next destination was going to be heading. Though it did take me a while to choose my destination it was no surprise to me that location. I was heading for Ninh Binh -pronounced Nin Bin- and not for any other reason but for the fact the name is some fun to say (say it ten times out loud and you'll see). Not only did I decide that I was going to Ninh Binh but so did Annie McIntosh decide to come with me, how this happened is a little unclear and has become a source of disagreement with Annie and I for sometime now -to give away a spoiler we travelled together for a while- and one that has never been solved. What happened was when I came up with the idea of going to Ninh Binh (have you said it out loud yet? Fun?) I turned to Annie and told her that she should come with me, but she swears blind that is was the other way round. Anyway after a day of drinking and farewells to Reid, Endaf and Carman we find ourselves at the bus stop heading for Ninh Binh. This was the most bizarre bus journeys ever, includung UNO, climbing around the top bunks like monkeys and oreos (but not all at once) as well as commentary on.
Before I get head of myself like always let me introduce Annie Georgina McIntosh;
vital information is she is 24 from Teddington, England. Studied drama at university and IS going to kill me for using this photo when I return to the UK.
In the morning we went for breakfast and it dawned on me after all these months of travelling that breakfasting in Asia is a strange business when it comes to what you eat (if you want to live like the locals). In one of my first entries that I will never get used to eating spice in the morning but I was wrong and now embrace having chillies and chilli sauce in the morning, seems like toothpaste and a burning mouth really do go hand in hand. Must be the equivalent of the western toothpaste and orange juice taste people get most breakfasts. But back to Ninh Binh that's where I was, how do I describe this place to you? Well it consists of a big road going straight through the centre and some buildings and lots of dust. When I first saw it that morning, I was wondering where the hell I had sent myself and brought someone to come with me. It was meant to be beautiful but except for the friendly locals that did not have much English (a couple I had better Vietnamese that they had English (which is saying something) it didn't have much going for it. But I have always travelled positively and try and find the diamonds hidden in the dirt, and I am so glad that I did. After a little research we worked out that it is mainly Vietnamese tourist and not foreign tourist that come to these parts, which explains how we are the only white people and the lack of accommodation. Also it seems that all of the sights, scenes and activities are outside of Ninh Binh in and even funnier place called Tam Coc. So I did -again- is to rent a motorbike and myself and Annie set of with a not very good map hand drawn map, a rough idea of where I am going, half a tank of petrol and a sense of adventure in my heart (and probably doubt in Annie's).
After a scenic route we find Tam Coc and the National Park, a collection of hills that are like the ones in Ha Long Bay but in land. After a couple of temples we take a ride on a boat where the women famously row with their feet and less famously don't believe that a guy and girl cannot be a couple. It was a lovely day and I am so glad I was wrong about my first impression it was one of those places that people never go to, completely off the tourist track and beautiful unruined by tourism and also another great day of riding around on a motorbike. I insist that anyone going to Vietnam stops of, even just for a day to view this amazing place. I would like to have stayed longer but it was time to move on to Hue.