I woke up at 7 because I was supposed to ride around with a girl I had met the previous night, Megan, at 8:30. Around 9:30, right when I was about to give up and do something on my own, she messaged me saying she’d have to cancel because she was up all night dealing with a fight that had broken out at her hostel. I’m always so amazed at people who take care of strangers who get involved in a fight. I would never do that. I just don’t care enough about strangers.
I decided to go for a run instead since running is usually the best/my favorite way to explore a new place.
I got changed and then ran towards the national park. I knew I wouldn’t get all the way there, since it was about 10 km away, but I thought I’d run part way and back to make it about a 5 mile run. It was a TOUGH run. The hills were steep since I was going up a mountain, but after about half a mile of all uphill there would also be an equally long downhill. The downhills were nice, but the uphills were killAR. On the way back to the hostel I almost started walking (something I never do) because I was so tired.
I went into town for lunch. I went back to Mona’s and got the tom yum noodle soup. It was good but a little weak for tom yum. Not really the authentic stuff.
I went back to the hostel and waited for my bus to Ninh Binh, a northern Vietnamese town known as the “dry Ha Long bay.” I was originally going to just pass through it as a stopping point before getting to Hoi An, but I decided to stay a few nights after learning that it’s actually a really beautiful place with lots to see and do.
I got on the bus around 1 pm and it was surprisingly empty. I waited the whole time for more people to come on (empty buses are not a thing that happens in SE Asia), but much to my pleasant surprise, no more people came on for the rest of the ride.
We had to get on a ferry from Cat Ba to the mainland, but this time the driver just let us stay on the bus while we loaded on to the ferry. It was pretty funny, being on a bus that was simultaneously on a boat. I don’t know why I found it so amusing.
I dozed off for a fair bit. When I woke up, my neck hurt from sleeping while sitting. Every few days I’m on a bus sleeping in some sort of weird position, always waking up with some sort of pain, and I was feeling a little burnt out from it all. This cycle can’t be good for me. I was also feeling a bit sick, had a headache, and was really tired, which added to the whole burnt out feeling.
We got to Ninh Binh around 6 pm and I was dropped off near my hostel.
I met two British guys, Nick and Mike, as soon as I walked in to my dorm room. They were headed out to dinner and I was hungry, so I asked if I could join.
We went to a restaurant literally next to our hostel called Binh Tay . The waitress was SUPER nice and accommodating: she first gave us these little Vietnamese treats made of ginger, sugar, and rice as an appetizer, gave a bunch of suggestions for food, and made sure my food was meat-free.
As we were waiting for our food, two guys named Jack (who is vegan!) and Martin came along that Mike and Nick (the British boys) knew. Jack and Martin also knew two other people at the restaurant so we decided to just combine all the groups together and sit at one big table. Turns out I knew the other two people too! They were Gigi and Magid, a Moroccan-French couple who was in my trekking group in Sapa. It was really nice to see them again. They are high school sweethearts and SO cute together. I want to find a love like theirs.
I got a plate of fresh spring rolls, which I thought would be filling enough because I knew that the restaurant gives huge portions, but it honestly wasn’t that filling. I found myself wanting more food after I was done. But the boys got HUGE portions and barely made it through their meals. I was jealous.
We went back to the hostel to hang out and play cards. It turned out that two girls who I had met previously in Hanoi, Jody and Mahlia, were also at the hostel. Jack and Mike also happened to know them from school in England– they’re all from Bristol.
However, the two girls were in a bit of a fight at the moment (they had been traveling together for 4 months) so only one of them joined us for cards. We played shithead, then asshole (I was president the majority of the time muahaha), then Irish Snap. It was really fun.
I went to bed around 10.