Saturday, Feb. 6th (Ninh Binh to Hanoi)

  • Started the day with a workout and a big cup of instant coffee at our hostel, Kim Lien Guesthouse in Ninh Binh
  • We hung out for the rest of the morning reading and writing while waiting for Dries to join us from Tam Coc.
  • When he showed up we decided to check out Mua Caves before starting the 100km journey to Hanoi.
  • We left all of our bags at the guesthouse and took our motorbikes to the Mua Caves, which turned out to be a bit of a misnomer.  There were a few very small caves and overhangs to explore, but the highlight was a hike up one of the mountains for a spectacular view over the Tam Coc area.
  • We all returned to the guesthouse, strapped up our bags, then hit the road to Hanoi.
  • The driving was slower than we would have liked as we were continually passing through small highway towns with lots of traffic.
  • It didn’t help that it is currently the biggest Vietnamese holiday of the year: Tet – their New Year.
  • In fact, as we approached Hanoi, maybe 15km out of the city, the traffic came to a standstill.
  • We decided to try a roundabout route to avoid the traffic and especially the exhaust fumes pumping straight into our lungs from the hundreds of surrounding vehicles.
  • Luckily, we found a fairly empty side highway that looped us into the city from the East rather than the South.
  • Only until we were within the city limits did the traffic slow us down.
  • We crawled through the narrow streets single file, amid foot traffic, markets, and Tet decorations, finally making it to our hostel with a big sigh of relief.
  • We checked into Flipside Hostel, then met up with some friends from Easy Tiger hostel in Phong Nha (Paul from South Africa, Rens from Holland, Sheena from the UK, Steve from the US, and Sarah from Canada) for dinner at Bun Bo Nam Bo around the corner.
  • We had a drink with dinner then continued the celebration at Beer Corner, the backpacker hangout in Hanoi, until just after Midnight.
  • By this time everyone was exhausted so we split ways and called it a night.
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