Interminable waiting for bus to Hoi An. Time seems to drag. It's 7.45 and the bus supposedly picks us up at 8.30, but no doubt it'll be late. (If we'd known what was going to happen at the end of that bus journey, we wouldn't have been so keen to embark on it.)
Have had a good stay at Ninh Binh. Quite spectacular, but the town itself has nothing to offer the tourist.
Booked a tour today around a few local attractions. They take us to see more bleeding pagodas but we're more interested in watching a man and his wife with a buffalo, ploughing a field in a rudimentary three field system way. Loved the goats in the mountains and the occasional herd of buffalo crossing the road.
Apart from that, it's all good. Vietnam makes me appreciate what I take for granted at home - like not having to work 29 days out of 30; being allowed an education, despite being female. Living in a comparatively pristine environment.
Young woman today rowed us around the caves. She's 28 and very pregnant with her third child. She did five years of schooling but wasn't allowed to continue, despite her obvious intelligence and facility with several different languages. She had to row the tourists around the caves. When she's not doing that, she's embroidering - much of which she tried to hawk to me, when I was captive on her little boat. Felt rotten for not buying, but we'd already been scammed into buying her and her husband - rowing with his feet - soft drinks and snacks. BTW, Al and I shared the rowing to assuage the guilt of being rowed around by someone ready to give birth any minute.
The Chilean chardonnay is going down well and we're looking forward to warmer weather in Hoi An. And more of a night life. Here, there is the hotel and not much else. The streets are for the locals and not really tourist friendly. Perhaps that will change, as long as people want to see monolithic mountains and glide through river caves - an almost spiritual experience.