Conversation with two professors
Early in the morning, I left by bus, back towards Hue, where I will have a stopover for a day before taking the sleeper bus to Ninh Binh. During a short break, two elderly Vietnamese join me for a conversation. One is a professor of geology, the other in environmental studies. We end up having an interesting chat about Catholicism versus Buddhism. Furthermore, I get an explanation of Ninh Binh. Their families reside there. Most sights are near the city, and the effects of the recent typhoon no longer form a threat to stay there.
A lot of time to waste before taking the sleeper bus to Ninh Binh
In Hue, I get off the bus, and I am overwhelmed by a troop of cyclo and motor drivers. I resist their offers and hire a cyclo to drive me to the hotel of my choice. In the hotel, I immediately book my ticket for the sleeper bus to Ninh Binh for tomorrow night. Today and a large part of tomorrow are a bit wasted days, as I have already seen everything of interest.
A discussion about Catholicism
Around five o’clock in the afternoon, I take a walk along the quay of the Perfume River. When I sit down, a student asks me if he can talk to me. His name is Loï; he has been studying English at college for three years, trying to graduate as a teacher. He turns out to be very religious. So I pretend to be Catholic, but when I report I never attend church, he can not understand this.
Stuck in the hotel for a large part of the day
After this conversation, I dine, and as it is loverly terrace weather, head down to a bar where I stick around for quite some time. The next morning the beautiful weather has disappeared. Since early in the morning, the rain has been pouring out. So, it seems I am stuck in the hotel’s lobby for most of the day. The sleeper bus to Ninh Binh leaves at 6 pm.
Flooded main street but life continues
In the afternoon, the sewers can no longer control the water; the roads turn blank. But life continues as usual for the Vietnamese: cyclists, motorcyclists, and cyclo drivers are driving through the flooded streets. When the rain ceases for a while, and the water level in the streets has dropped a little, I take my chance to go out for an extensive lunch. Returning to the hotel afterward goes pretty well, until the last 100 meters in Hung Vong Street, which is wholly flooded again. While I am waiting. The cyclo driver with whom I have been talking this morning at the hotel’s door shows up. He brings me back to the hotel for free.
Wading across the street to reach the sleeper bus to Ninh Binh
The trip with the sleeper bus to Ninh Binh will turn out to be one not to forget quickly or the opposite. It depends on how you look at things. For starters, when they pick me up (with a regular bus), they stop at the other side of the flooded street. So I pull my trouser legs up and wade through. I managed to keep my shoes dry all day long, but this switch to the other side of the street, at most 15 seconds, puts an end to that.
Sleeping compartments made for the Vietnamese
A few minutes later, we have to change into the sleeper bus. The bus is divided into narrow compartments. You slide your feet into a kind of collection bin. In itself, not such a bad system, at first sight anyway, were it not that the compartments are tailor-made for Vietnamese people, but primarily used by tourists. As a result, slightly larger people like me can barely move, you can hardly place your feet differently, and your butt hurts after about an hour of driving down. I guess I will not catch sleep easy. Maybe that is not too bad in my case anyway, because I have to get out in Ninh Binh and not at the end station, Hanoi.