3/1/18: Cycling Around Ninh Binh

I started off the morning by having breakfast with Mike, Jody, and Mahlia. My breakfast was a sad plate of bread and shitty fake jam. Thank god I saved my banana from the restaurant the night before, or else that would have been really bad. I just finished my jar of black tahini so I didn’t have that to add to my breakfasts anymore.

After the boys got done getting ready (boys always take forever), we tried to figure out what to do with the scooter situation: there were five of us and two scooters. Three would be a bit too much for one scooter, since the boys weren’t that experienced, and none of the girls knew how to ride a scooters.

I volunteered to rent a bicycle and cycle to Trang An instead. Trang An is known for its boat tour, and goes through a bunch of caves and valleys.

On the way, I saw multiple dead, whole-body goats on the side of the road. They were there to show customers that they were selling goat meat, and it was disturbing. There was even one guy holding a live goat right next to the dead goat. I mean, can you imagine being the dead goat and seeing your dead friend right next to you??!

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Courtesy of baoquangninh.com.vn/

It made me think… is it better to have dead goats out in the open like that, or is it better to have it all hidden, the way it is in the U.S.? I don’t know the answer. I’ve also seen dozens of whole pigs being roasted out in the open here in Vietnam. It’s really disturbing to see whole goats and pigs out like that, vendors boasting the fact that they have goat meat in such a vile and aggressive way, but it’s equally messed up how disconnected we are to our food in the west.

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Seen on the way to Trang An

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I somehow ended up beating everyone there.

The boat tour was essentially two hours of gorgeous scenery. We rowed through caves, stopped at temples, and saw the King Kong movie set along the way. It was a really gorgeous day with perfect temperatures, and an amazing way to spend a few hours. It was well worth the 200,000 dong ($8) entrance fee.

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One of the temples we visited
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SUPER low ceilings in the caves
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Shitty cave pics woo!

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King Kong set…
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It was a bit strange

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SOOO many boats!!
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Hundreds of boats waiting for tourists…

I got really lost on my bike ride back to the hostel, but it was cool to see another side of the city so I didn’t mind.

As I was parking my bike at the hostel, a girl who was standing a few feet away asked me how biking was. I told her it was fine; the road to Trang An is flat and easy.

I asked her if she was biking around alone. She said she was, so I told her we could bike together if she wanted. She was open to it– yay! I love when new friends pop up serendipitously like that.

I was STARVING so we got lunch together at a restaurant really close to hostel: I got a surprisingly delicious plate of broccoli and mushroom with rice.

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Once we were all fueled up, we got on our bikes and went to Bich (don’t touch my) Dong Pagoda.

The ride there was BEAUTIFUL. It took a really long time to get there, a bit over an hour, but it was so worth it. There were so many pretty rice fields, healthy-looking cows, goats, and mountains. I loved it.

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We had to pay for parking at the pagoda. The parking woman initially said it would be 50,000 dong, but to pay later.

The pagoda itself wasn’t that impressive– the views weren’t that great. We explored around for 30 minutes and then went back to our bikes.

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Entrance to pagoda

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Views from top

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I decided to try to negotiate the parking price down. 50,000 dong was ridiculous for 30 minutes of parking. I told the lady (a different one from the first) that we would pay 10,000 each. It was pretty easy: she immediately said ok and it was settled.

That pissed me off even more– it was originally going to be 25,000 dong each, but the second lady didn’t even argue with me when I offered 10,000, which proves how ridiculous the first price was. There are definitely people who don’t even bother to haggle… which makes me mad. Such BS.

We rode back to hostel on more of the main roads, which was a bit scary because it was rush hour.

I somehow got a flat tire right at the very end. I’m so glad it wasn’t when we were out by the pagoda. That would have been hell trying to get back with a flat tire.

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I saw a wedding on the way home!

Once we were showered, we were both hungry so we got dinner at a local restaurant called Trung Tuyet.

I got a tofu and veggie noodle soup, which was a bit oily but still good. We also split a fruit salad, and I was ridiculously full after that. Fruit always fills me up (temporarily).

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I felt really old among the 19 year-old British people, but I didn’t feel that old with Sabrina even though she’s 19 too. I guess it’s because Sabrina is just more mature, and we talked about things beyond other people. I don’t think age really matters so much when making friends, but maturity/depth of convo does.

I watched the Survivor season 36 premiere– really excited about this new season yayyyy– and then went to bed.

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