CLIMBING ROCKS TO FIND PEACE
On my second day in the North I headed to Ninh Binh, an old little town in the mountains surrounded by numerous lakes, a peaceful town housing beautiful old pagodas and interesting cave temples for one to visit – all of which had their own unique character.
Local buses to Ninh Binh depart from Hanoi’s Gap Biat bus station and tickets cost 60k vnd the journey takes a mere 2 hours so definitely worth a visit if you’re in Hanoi, but as I snoozed off for some of it I was there before I knew it.
On arrival I was approached by a friendly looking and timid old man asking if I there was anywhere I was looking to go and normally I wouldn’t just hop on the first guy with a bike I felt a genuineness to him and as I was able to understand his Vietnamese well, I decided to take him up on his offer.
Together we headed towards the Bai Dinh temples after quickly wolfing down a bowl of his recommended local pho. We talked for a short while at the restaurant and he mentioned three temples that we recommended me to visit; one set in a cave, one on the lake and the one with the famous pagodas, all three had their unique features that set them apart from each other and located a decent distance from each other allowing me to see most of the town and the different landscapes it offered.
Note for the less able: there’s a tiring and sweat inducing number of steps involved in reaching two of the temples up in the hills though after climbing them in the blistering sun, the welcoming cool and mountain breeze at the top definitely makes one appreciate why people go all way to pray in the first place, plus the views from the elevated location assisted one’s mind in getting lost.