Our destination for the day was Ninh Binh
. So we had to make our way outside of the city. This brings me to my second observation in Vietnam. I can't believe the number of scooters that are here and 1) there are no helmet laws 2) I've seen a family of 5 on 1 scooter and 3) i've seen goods piled 3x the height of the actual vehicle driving on the road. I've worked at places that where i've seen a lot of head injuries, so riding a scooter in traffic this bad without a helmet just doesn't seem like a good idea to me. The family of 5 included 2 kids and an infant, so i should really only count that as 4 people. I never thought that a scooter was made for more than 2 people, but all were strategically placed.
Father driving, 2 kids in the middle, mom taking up the rear with infant in a back pack like sack. So I guess it all works out. Lastly, i've seen scooters hauling pigs, mattresses, vegetables etc., sometimes reaching 15 feet in the air. I wasn't a physics major but how is one able to keep all of those goods in place as well as get it moving? If you factor in wind resistance, low center of gravity and air pressure dynamics, there is no possible way these scooter should stay upright, but they do. Just something to think about during the drive to Ninh Binh.
After getting out of Hanoi
, we stopped at Hoa Lu. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam from 968-1009. It's nestled in the lush mountains of the Northern Vietnam area.
Fishing in Ninh Binh
The location of Hoa Lu was important because it's proximity to China and because of the mountainous region. Here we encountered Hill people who try to sell you trinkets and souvenirs. They are very nice but super persistent. Hoa Lu is an interesting place with lots of intricate carvings all made of stone. You can take your time walking around in the gardens and in the structures or you can take guided tour. We decided to walk around by ourselves.
Then we took a row boat ride on the Tom Coc river. This was amazing. We traveled by boat through 3 caves each giving us a wonderful surprise. Along with the beautiful scenery with enormous limestone cliffs and lush hillsides, we saw fishing villagers going about their daily lives. This tour was awesome except for the boat rowers who were practically begging for money and accused us for not paying enough for the tour. We felt badly and ended up paying 3x the amount we were supposed to, but to be honest, it was worth it.
When we got back to Hanoi, we had to get ready for the water puppet show. Yeah, it's touristy, but, you almost have to do it. I'm glad we decided to go. Even though it was all in Vietnamese and I didn't understand a word of it, i had a great time. The music with the traditional instruments and songs were awesome. And, I can't say, i've seen a mastery of puppetry like that before. I strongly recommend it!