We check out and grab breakfast. We are a little apprehensive about our journey today. What is going to happen? We go to the hotel and the guy is there. After 10 minutes and a phone call he tells us that the bus cannot come into the town today, due to the carnival, which I think has already ended. We says they will take us to the edge of town on motorbikes.
We jump on. Abs rides with the guy, and I, loaded with luggage, jump on the back of what seems like his Dad’s bike. I can feel myself sliding off the seat as we ride along. But, we make it to the highway, driving the wrong way up a one way slip road as we get there. We jump off and wait. Lots of public buses like the one we travelled to Halong City in stop and try to tempt us on. After 20 minutes or so a public bus appears in the distance and the guy from the hotel flags it down. Our bags go in the back and we have a seat to ourselves near the front.
The journey turns out to be good fun. The driver is a maniac, but we get to Ninh Binh in good time. I think most of the people on the bus had never been close to a white person before, and some had trouble controlling their staring. The ticket guy on the bus was much more accustomed to westerners, even giving us chewing gum after the toilet break.
At Ninh Binh we jump off. We don’t have a map and I ask Taxi drivers for directions to a hotel. They naturally want to take us there, but I say no, I just want directions. They point down a road. Abby sees them laughing and thinks they are sending us the wrong way, but they weren’t. We see some westerners heading towards us and ask about their hotel. Not only do they recommend it but the hotel manager is with them. We follow him back and find a good value room.
We try to get to the train station in the evening to buy our onward tickets, but fatigue and hunger make us return to the guesthouse after only a quick walk, during which some people fall of their chairs when they see us, and we wait forever whilst some Vietnamese take forever in what seems like their first ever ATM transaction. They are probably still in the ATM booth now.