NINH BINH

Adventures in a magical world of temples, caves, and mountains.

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ollowing our adventures and misadventures involving monkeys and typhoons in Lanha bay, we made it back to Hanoi in one piece. We got Archie to the medical clinic, where he was given a series of injections and tablets to ensure that he didn’t develop rabies from the monkey bite. Although there was a good chance nothing would have come if it, rabies is not something we wanted to mess with. Once you start showing symptoms, it’s too late. This sort of situation is one of the biggest challenges when travelling with kids.

Once you start showing symptoms, it’s too late.”
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e breathed a huge sigh of relief, and settled back in to Hanoi for a few days, to regroup, and figure out what changes needed to be made to our plans, to allow us to be in Hanoi on the days Arch required follow up injections (days 3,7, and 14). Fortunately we were able to fit everything we had planned into this timetable, just in a different order. 

We cancelled and rebooked a bunch of accommodations and trains, then headed off on our next adventure, to Ninh Binh, a province about 2 hours from Hanoi by train. We had considered cancelling this trip, and staying in Hanoi for a bit longer, we were feeling a bit over adventures, but we are so glad we didn’t, Ninh Binh was one of the highlights of our trip so far. 

The train arrived in Ninh Binh at around 1030pm, and we were picked up by a driver from our AirBNB (Ninh Binh Family Homestay). It was dark, and raining, so we couldn’t see much, and we were surprised at how flat it seemed, but as we drove out of town a thunder storm rolled in, and the lightning flashes illuminated the many sandstone cast mountains around us. 

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fter a shorter than preferable sleep (we were hoping the kids would sleep in, but nah….), and a tasty breakfast, our host provided us with two bikes, and we set off to find Bai Dinh Pagoda, the biggest complex of Buddhist temples in South East Asia. It was spectacular. We spent a couple of wonderful hours exploring the temples, checking out the view from the Stupa (breathtaking), and chatting with the two lovely young girls who had volunteered to show us around, to help improve their English.

Emily was 5, and had a similar silliness to Archie, so they got on like a house on fire, and Mai was 9, and was an amazing guide, full of all sorts of info and anecdotes about everything in the Pagoda. We were all tired, so we headed home for lunch and some downtime. That night we were treated to a traditional Vietnamese Chicken Hotpot, washed down with homemade rice wine. The food was great, and the company was also excellent. 

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he next day we decided that rather than head to the main tourist traps, Trang An and Tam Coc, we would go out on a private tour of Van Long Nature Reserve with our host, Scott. It was absolutely the right decision, the trip took us through some amazing waterways, reedy jungles, and past stunning mountains, and was just stunning. We stumbled across a wedding party out in boats taking their wedding photos too. Because we were in two boats, Kate had to do a lot of child wrangling with Stevie, who isn’t one for sitting around, looking at things. My job, taking the photos, was perhaps a bit easier. 

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e were supposed to head back to Hanoi the next morning, but we were having a great time, so we changed our ticket for the evening train, and spent the next morning at Galaxy Grotto, a series of caves, two of which we explored by boat, and the other on foot. This was one of the highlights of our trip so far. The caves were lit up with coloured electric lights, which did a fantastic job of highlighting the unique formations within. 

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e were a bit sad to leave Ninh Binh, we could have spent another week there easily, but we had to get back for round 3 of the injections. We spent a couple of nights in a Premiere Suite at a fancy hotel in Hanoi , where we had two bedrooms (luxury enough), two bathrooms, and, joy oh joy, a swimming pool. It was a nice little breather in the midst of our hectic adventures, but now we’re on our way again. I’m writing this from my bed in the sleeper train to Sapa. More adventures to come…..