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April 26, 2006 – A journey to Ninh Binh, Vietnam in Asia

Nutty Ninh Binh

Overnighted in Ninh Binh before an excursion to Halong Bay. On the way, noticed the scenery changing from endless fields of green rice paddies to more endless fields of green rice paddies but with slim, tall limestone and vegetation-covered mountains jutting out of them. The scenery reminded me of Guilin, China.

rice paddies and mountains

Ninh Binh itself was a funny little town. Rick and I walked in a downpour at dusk looking for a restaurant. So far, only found a place where a middle-aged lady was serving something from a few huge tin pots. But it looked like she was only serving her family. Couldn’t really tell since the electricity was out on that side of the street. Then we walked and walked in three directions from our hotel (hotel was situated at an intersection), and couldn’t find any type of restaurant or even a grocery mart in the endless row of shops. Decided to turn back to the street the hotel was on to try there. Stumbled upon a small café that served only drinks. Also found an empty pho noodle shop that smelled like a meat market once you walked inside.

Lo and behold, walked right into an outdoor market tucked in a narrow alley. But quickly turned around after witnessing fried dog heads and chopped up fried dog meat for the first time (no offense to those who eat dog, since I do have one, alive, that is). There’s a big difference with actually seeing dog meat being sold in markets versus hearing or reading about it. Some of the fried dog heads even had the same expressions my dog would make.

Walked back into the empty pho shop again, like three times, but the raw meat smell kept us turning around (we were quite hungry since we didn’t have anything all day, but I suppose not that hungry to actually have something). Had to listen to the advice playing over and over in my head from my college organic chemistry teacher – if you ever smell the aromatic compounds putricine or cadaverine, turn around and walk out – won’t be worth it.

Found it quite amusing that this town had pretty much no eateries, since I saw so many pho shops on the way. Had a good night’s sleep though, after having some mangos that didn’t taste like mangos.

have you visit halong bay like
Commented by JOHN COLLIN on 06-09-07 15:35:48

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