A Travellerspoint blog

July 2018

Vietnam-Bus Way to Hell/Hue

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Last night, I boarded the bus in Ninh Bihm for the approximately 11 hour ride to Hue.

This was a sleeper bus, which meant that there are beds lining the lower and upper floors of the bus. The beds don't quite go flat but are somewhat reclined. (I rode one last week on the way to Sapa).

This one was WAAAY worse. My particular bed was in between the left and right side of the bus, meaning there was a bed to the left (separated by a small path to walk), and to the right. Which meant I couldn't roll over, even slightly, or else I might fall onto the floor. I had my bag in the front of me, with my camera, passport, and some books to read, and that took up a lot of room in the "bed". So I had my legs around it. So my legs we're at an angle. To make things worse, the bathroom was just two rows back-and not only could I smell it, but folks could jostling me who we're walking to the bathroom. The bus was way overcrowded, with people sleeping on the floor as well.

As the bus continued on into the morning, we went over really really bumpy roads, and I could feel every one. The folks in the back row we're talking too loud-but since they we're speaking French I figured they we're fellow tourists, so I didn't shut them up-because they we're seemingly the few tourists on the bus on a bus full of locals.

I was happy to get off the bus after approximately 11 hours.

Posted by DavidPearlman 19:18 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam-Ninh Binh for a Day

The night-before-yesterday, I was in a 4 person dorm room at the Long Hotel, where it was in the 90's. Three of us we're in the room-the other two being two girls who recently graduated from Boston University, one who had a prosthetic leg. All was fine for the most part-except during the twice during the night when the power went out-the room with deathly silent, with no whir of the fan and air conditioning. And it was hot. Really hot. This happened twice during the night-for I am not sure how long.

Yesterday, I awoke at 8:30 to go on an overpriced tour of the Ninh Binh area. I got in a Toyota SUV, and it ended up being with my two roommates from Boston. We went and saw three different places:

(1) The first place being a temple and pagoda on a mountain top, which requires a climb up a lot of thick steps in the heat ( which I later learned was around 107 degrees). There we're actually two different climbs to make-one to a pagoda and one to a temple. The views we're splendid, but the heat was stifling of the limestone cliffs, and it was very tiring in the heat. We all made it to the top-the two girls, including the one with the prosthetic leg, we'e some what faster than I was.

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(2) We we're dropped off at a boat ride around the Trang An Landscape province with huge lake with temples and karnst cliffs. It was the three of us in the boat, along with a woman rowing the boat and taking us through caves. It was a nice long ride. We we're once again relaxing under the very very very hot sun, enjoying the impressive views and going through caves. After a while, the boat came to land-this was the filming site of the movie "King Kong-Skull Island", or something like that. Like most movies, I never saw it. But there we're signs indicating this was the filming site. The lady stearing the boat said repeatedly "King Kong King Kong", as she didn't seem to know much English. The two girls ran ahead instead of waiting for me. No doubt that they don't want to wait for a weird quirky old guy (they probably wouldn't have waited for me if I was their age). i walked off slowly, examining the huts, and a boat which was supposedly in the movie. I followed a path. After about 1/2 an hour, I discovered that we we're to pick up the same boat somewhere else-at the end. I waited at the end for the girls-and I was cursing them out under my breath. I figured they went on without me. They we're just selfish millennials, who don't have patience for someone their father's age hangin with them in Southeast Asia.

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As I waited at the end of the dock, and the boat woman called for me to join her on the boat, I signaled for her to pick me up-it was then she pointed, as the two girls we're running down the hill. They thought they would rejoin the boat where it would drop us off, and got lost. I felt somewhat vindicated. We finished the ride-the boat driver signaled that she wanted a tip, and kept begging for money. I gave her some.

The guide picked us up again and drove us to the Long hotel, where we had lunch with lots of tour groups. The buffet was plentiful, and the food was good. The tour guide said he would pick us up at around 2:30-giving us an hour and a half. I ate some rolls, chicken pho, and took a nap in the hotel lobby.

He picked us up, and took us to (3) A large Buddhist temple complex in Nimh Binh, called the Bai Dinh temple complex, which isn't old-the building started in 2003-but it contains the largest temples and pagodas in Vietnam, along with thousands of small Buddhas. It was impressive, but I arrived in Hong Kong roughly 3-4 months ago-and since then-in China, Korea, and Japan-I have seen seemingly hundreds of Buddhist temples, and it is hard to be amazed at them any longer.

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The driver picked us up and brought us back to the hostel, where we waited for the bus to Hue.

Posted by DavidPearlman 18:56 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam-Nothing in Nimh Binh

Yesterday, I left the early for the bus to Nimh Binh, which is further down the coast of Vietnam.

At roughly 8:00, am, I got on the mini bus which stopped outside the hostel for the short bus. The bus stopped at about 20 different hotels and hostels within a few miles radius before we got going,

Once we got going, the bus was completely full, with 32 people riding. I was sitting in a relatively comfortable middle seat with a seat next to me, but moved to a second seat when the woman who was guiding people on to the bus asked me to move because a couple was getting on. I did, but someone in the front seat kept trying to recline, but couldn't. After the bus stopped a little later to pick someone else up, and I moved to a back seat to make her fell more comfortable. It was in the last row of the bus, with two seats on either side-on one side was a skinny girl and a big guy on the other side. It was so tight, I couldn't move back. So I was stuck leaning forward for the entire ride.

After an hour and 1/2 or so, the bus stopped at a rest area. Like other rest areas I was at, this one featured lots of disabled people laboring away at making art. I saw those in Halong Bay-it was only when I discovered as it was supposedly due to the US Government's agent orange as to why these people are disabled.

We got back on the van, and in about an hour-it dropped us off at Nimh Binh. As relieved as I was to get off the bus-it was sort of frustrating when the driver had trouble opening up the back compartment, where the luggage was kept. He tried for about 5 minutes, but it wouldn't open. Finally, another passenger helped him and it did open.

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I found the Long Hotel across the street from the bus terminal. I picked it only because it was advertised as where the bus stops at and it was $5 per night for a dorm room. The reviews weren't great, but it wasn't bad.

I walked around to a temple across the street, and a canal surrounding it-I walked around for about an hour or two, but it was hot-really really hot. I think it was 100 with 90% humidity. Nobody except for a few back packers and cycle riders we're on the street. So I went back to the hotel and took a nap on a chair.

Later, I went out again for dinner. Once again, very few peopel we''re on the street-every restaurant owner was urging me to come in. I finally found one with a few folks eating at and had some soup, and a beer.

I Walked around in the silent downtown in the dark, and went back to the hostel.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:46 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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