We arrived in Ninh Binh around 5 pm yesterday after a lovely and challenging 83 km day of riding. Our bus took us the last few miles into this medium-sized city so that we could avoid the hazards of traffic. Ninh Binh is in Vietnam’s Red River Valley, an area rich in agriculture and natural resources. Its temples, waterways, and karst mountain scenery make it a natural tourist destination.
Our morning began with a visit to Bich Dong Pagoda, a series of Buddhist temples built into a mountainside. Our leader, Son, said that it serves as a community gathering place. From there our bus took us to the start of our 55 km ride though rolling hills of pineapple fields and then though rural roads and paths with spectacular views of karst mountains and Red River waterways. After a memorable lunch (including tofu in tomato sauce, baby bok choy, and a spectacular green papaya salad), we visited Hoa Lu, the 10th century capital of Vietnam.
Tonight we take an overnight train to Hue. So we headed back to our hotel for a shower before dinner and the train station.