Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ninh Binh....March 25

Mon 23/3/09

Corrections: It is languer, not lenguer. The NVA floated down the Ma River, not the Da River. The Ma is a tributary of the Da.

These machines are slow and the connections are slow, and most have 3 versions of malware blockers popping up all the time, so the typing at these hours gets sloppy.

After breakfast (white bread, fried egg, laughing cow cheese, banana, and Nescafe - this is the food the guide provides, easy road food) in the dining hall at Cuc Phuong, we had the bikes in the van and drove about 18km into the park to another guest house looking complex. By chance, we met a California (near Chico) woman a little younger than we, her two adopted Vietnamese kids(about six, who she has had since they were 3 1/2 months), and her mother. They are here to take the kids back to visit the orphanage where she found them. We rode back down the paved road, mostly downhill, toward the park entrance. We stopped at the Cave of the Prehistoric Man about halfway out. This cave, when discovered, held remains of three people, tools, and other artifacts dating back about 8,000 years. There was a truck full of German tourists just entering the cave when we got there. They were cyclists, too, and had done two weeks from southern China and northwest Vietnam (Dien Bien Phu, Sapa), and were just about to finish their trip with two days in Halong Bay.

Once out of the park, we rode through very remote country with new, small, concrete houses for the farmers to live in. It was dusty, humid, and hot. I'm glad it's hot and I'm sweating so much, because before beginning the ride, with such a salty diet, beer, no exercise, my ankles were beginning to swell. The ankles are back to normal, but the waist will need some work once I stop eating these 5-8 course meals. I don't think I have ever eaten this much. It is all delicious, but fatty - they don't trim the fat or gristle from the pork or goat, you just eat it. Today we had beef with morning glory leaves, green papaya, barely sauteed, goat in pumpkin flowers, and some kind of soup which I think was turnip.

Ninh Binh is a busy place, so for our safety, the van stopped several km out of town and picked us up. The room is nice, and we are on the edge of a canal system. We saw lots of fisherman, lots of duck farms, and lots of water hyacinth floating on the water, so I’m going to try for some fish tonight.

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