Nov 23, 2015

Tam Coc river trip

We are here in the brief transition period between the monsoon season and the dry season, and so far the daily pattern has been the same: a terrific storm overnight, a brief period in the morning where it's clear, then a stormy period around lunch, then a brief period in the afternoon where it's clear, then storms in the early evening. It's been nice; we take a walk after breakfast, then a long bike ride to Tam Coc and back right after lunch, and a late afternoon walk through the rice fields. Today our plan was to head over to Tam Coc and take a boat ride after breakfast.

The cab dropped us off at the boat dock, where we got our tickets ($16 for the both of us, for a ~2-hour boat ride) and stepped into the boat.

boats waiting for passengers
there she is, our charming and chatty boat driver
they row the boats with their feet
It was so beautiful, Marc and I just kept staring in wonder.

Photographers along the way, eager to sell you the pictures they took of you when the trip ends. I just took their pictures.
massive karst mountains
so beautiful
a beautiful day to drift among the pillars
more photographers -- they didn't want me to take their picture though

She talked the WHOLE TRIP to other boat drivers. Just another day at the office for her.
since they row with their feet, they can hold umbrellas
while she was rowing, she was cutting pineapples to sell to tourists
heading for a cave...
love the rock
the end of the trip -- we turned around here and retraced the route

we'd just come out of a cave, into this beautiful spot
otherworldly beauty
extraordinary in every way

Going into and through the caves was great:

we passed through four or five like this -- cave approaching
had to duck, in places 
giddy and grinning in the dark 

We finally found a cab to take us back to the hotel; since it would probably rain, we didn't want to ride the bikes, and in fact just as we pulled up to the hotel it started raining -- but only for a bit, so after a short rest we grabbed the bikes and rode back into Tam Coc for lunch. I can't get enough green papaya salad; I have it for dinner every night, and I had it for lunch today, along with a Hanoi beer. Marc got a chicken and lemongrass dish and an eggplant salad, that was just thinly sliced raw eggplant. Kind of strange.

but these shrimp spring rolls were GREAT 
an awful lot of lemongrass, but mighty good
bike riding -- such fun in such a flat place. 
such a happy day 
back at the hotel -- that's the reception area in that little building, set amidst beautiful gardens
this is a pink double hibiscus, extraordinary
more of the hotel grounds
 After our bike ride to lunch, it was still sunny with blue skies, so we hopped into the pool for a bit.

such a nice pool, and so quiet. LOTS of butterflies all around, and a couple of cats
Then we headed out for another walk in the rice fields kind of behind our hotel.

so beautiful 
oh, hi pig 
oh, hey cow!
And what the heck are these?? We see them on rocks, and even on trees. Anyone know?
It's our last night here in Tam Coc; tomorrow we drive to Hanoi for a couple of nights. It's been wonderful seeing this new place in Vietnam, even more beautiful than I imagined it would be. Again Marc found us a beautiful little hotel, and the people -- like they do in Vietnam -- make the place. I could not be happier than I've been today.

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