Off to Cát Bà Island

2016-05-28 at 14:10

From Chez Beo Homestay I took the QL10 to Nam Định then further the QL39A and a few other QL’s towards Hai Phong. From there you have to drive over very bumpy and dusty roads to find the ferry. My Google girl was a big disappointment – she did not know nothing and was very happy to let me drive in a big circle along that dusty road. With the help of some local bicycle driving girls I made it to the ferry stop at the coast.
There are two gates and I opted for the right one. Leading over another dust road to the “High Speed Boat” It is not really that fast but faster than the other boats that leave at the end of the street if you take the left gate.

Ninh Binh Town Gate
Ninh Binh Town Gate – I somehow love that picture!

Express Butcher
Express Butcher

Dusty factory
Dusty factory – no clue what they produce there – looks like they need a lot of coal. So there must be a lot of heat somewhere.

Dusty factory
The place is completely dusty, the bridge was super dusty as well.

Size matters
Size matters – they do sort something – rocks – that is for sure

No clue what she sorts there
No clue what she sorts there and what they do with it. Please help me out in the comments below!

Waiting for the Express Ferry to Cat Ba
Waiting for the Express Ferry to Cát Bà

Work at Home
Work at Home – save commuting!

The Express Ferry
The High Speed Boat – the only way to get there is the narrow bridge where you see the man running. So if you come with your big BMW – no way to get there since your bike is to fat!

On the Express Ferry
On the Express Ferry

On the Express Ferry

Cát Bà Island

Did book my hotel at booking.com -> Mr. Zoom. Sure enough I booked a room with city view – the other option was mountain view. Mr. Zoom is quite central, has very good ratings and the price is right. He is really friendly and helpful – you find him most of the day at his desk in front of his hotel. Ready to answer questions or to arrange a trip for you.

The wrong room
When I got there Mr. Zoom did give me this room in the hotel to the left of his place. It is ok but – no window! Humid as the city was you can imagine what happens when you take a shower. And the Wifi was on and off.

View into the bathroom
View into the bathroom

Did check the App again and went down to complain. No problem – we went to the hotel on the right of his place and he gave me another room – and boy – that was a really good room.

The good room
Up on the 5th floor so nobody else was up here. A balcony outside, fridge, AC, fan, 2 big beds, closet and hot shower as well as a private toilet. And best of all: Only 20 US $ for 4 nights! Great Deal – where else do you get a room like that for 5US$???

View from the second bed to the door
View from the second bed towards the door

Not too much to see outside
Not too much to see outside – from the balcony you can see the street down below. And some hotels on the other side of the street.

The harbour today
After check in I went down to the harbour. Great view with the gray sky. Quite depressing so let’s go for some food.

Vegetarian Soup
Vegetarian Soup

Vietnamese Coffee
Vietnamese Coffee

Bia Hoi
After dinner I went to the local Bia Hoi place. 1 litre only 0,82 US $!! And it ir really drinkable 🙂

Interesting sea animal
Interesting sea animal – and quite big. Why do people have to eat everything 🙁

The last Egg Coffee
The last Egg Coffee for this trip. A bit on the sweet side but as long as you are not Vegan – try one!

 
Took a trip with a friend on the bikes one day to see the island. Did not do a lot the other day’s since the weather was the same old gray gray all the time. On the last morning I went down to the harbour before breakfast to take some pictures with the big camera.

Morning at the harbour
Morning at the harbour at Cát Bà

Morning in the harbour of Cát Bà

Taxi Boat
Taxi Boat

Taxi Boat
Taxi Boat

Man on his boat
Man on his boat

Big wooden boat
Big wooden boat on the top left is ready for catching octopus. When they reach the fishing area they unfold the light construction and turn it on. Now the animal thinks the sun is up and comes to the surface. If you ever had a night flight over the South China Sea for example and fly over a fleet of such boats it looks like a very big city. Until you look on the map at your entertainment system only to find out you are in the middle of the water.

Another taxi boat
Another taxi boat

Boats in the harbour of Cat Ba
Boats in the harbour of Cat Ba

 
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Last Morning at Chez Beo Homestay

2016-05-23 at 18:58

After a few good days here at the Chez Beo Homestay it was time once again to move. Wanted to spend a few days on Cát Bà Island and a few days in Hanoi at the end of the trip. Today the sun was out so I took a few pictures of Chez Beo Homestay with blue sky. And some with the same old gray gray.

Good Morning Cat!
Good Morning Cat! Still at the same place as last night.

Good Morning Cat!
Good Morning Cat! Looks like she will sleep a bit more

From the Temple to the back
From the Temple to the back of Chez Beo

From the Temple to the back
And further back into the canyon

Towards the Egg and the two Water Front Bungalows
Towards the Egg and the two Water Front Bungalows

The Egg!
The Egg! A lot of space for one but two will work as well.

One of the bungalows in the back of Chez Beao
One of the bungalows in the back of Chez Beao

Back to the Reception
Back to the Reception

Bridge to the Reception
Bridge to the Reception from the Temple

View from the Reception towards the Temple and back of Chez Beo
View from the Reception towards the Temple and back of Chez Beo

The right bungalow in the front
The right bungalow in the front

The left bungalow in the front
The left bungalow in the front. They do not look so big here in the pictures but they are really big compared to the standard bungalow you have somewhere else.

Lotus field in front of Chez Beo
Lotus field in front of Chez Beo – to bad they are not open 🙁

Mai and her friend
Mai and her friend – thank you for taking care of me and the gooood food!

Mr. Viet
Mr. Viet – he takes care of biz here and if you have a question or problem – he is here to help!
See you guys and the Chez Beo Homestay again!!

You find a few more pictures and information about Chez Beo in this post: http://hastenteufel.name/blog/from-pom-coong-village-to-ninh-binh/

If you want to stay at Chez Beo they have a homepage or you book them right away at the Chez Beo site at booking.com!

 
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Daytrip to the Cuc Phuong National Park

2016-05-11 at 19:53

Another gray morning at the Chez Beo Homestay. But it looked like it will stay dray today. Decided to go for a ride to the Cuc Phuong National Park to look for the 1000 year old tree.
I gave the girl from Google Maps all the freedom and she did choose a really nice road all the way!
If only the sky…

First stop on the way: Hang Mua Temple – or lets say down at the temple. To get there you pass some ducks!

Baby Ducks
Baby Ducks in the water

Baby Ducks
Baby Ducks on the land

Grave in the rice field
Grave in the rice field. It does look nice but the more graves you put the less rice is there for the rest…

Hang Mua Temple in the mist
Hang Mua Temple in the mist. Would be super nice to go up and enjoy the view – if there would be one!
Ok let’s get back to the road. The Google woman is complaining as well…

Mountains in the mist
Mountains in the mist

Ducks - again
Ducks – again!
Finally I did reach the park, did pay entrance and continued to the parking lot further inside. After pay for bike parking (why is that not covered in the entrance fee??) I did start the hike to the tree. If you ever been in a forest in Asia this is nothing special. It was quite warm and humid so after 30 minutes you are wet – a lot! And finally you reach the tree.

Finally - the 1000 year old tree
The sign is prove: I present you the 1000 year old tree

Not a lot left but it is an old tree
Not a lot left but it is an old tree – and nothing more. Since I did see really old trees in California I was not to impressed by this one and continued the walk back to the parking lot. They made it into a wide circle so you see new green stuff and not the same that you saw on the way to the tree.
Back at the bike my shirt was so wet I had to put it under the seat in the “trunk”. Told the Google woman that we go back to Chez Beo. She was super happy to guide me again and off we went.

Following Google Maps
Following Google Maps does lead you to all sorts of roads in Vietnam. Sometimes I was not sure about the girl. She thinks I have a car – that is why she want me to go on the highway when she finds one but you are not allowed with a bike. And sometimes she thinks I have a 4 x 4 or a dirt bike when she sends me to roads like this one. Girl – you have to learn a few things! But I have to say – most of the times she does a god job.

Electric rod fishing
Electric rod fishing

Until the ducks come home
Until the ducks come home

Herding with the hat
Herding with the hat – very popular with the North Vietnamese duck farmers!

The big Mussels hunt
The big Mussels hunt

Peaceful valley
Peaceful valley

Bái Đính Temple in the back
Bái Đính Temple in the back

Propaganda
Propaganda

Looks like they have big plans with that road
Looks like they have big plans with that road

Ship yard Vietnamese style
Ship yard Vietnamese style

More ducks
More ducks on the way back

Evening in the Chez Beo kitchen
Evening in the Chez Beo kitchen

Plenty of food: Dinner at Chez Beo
Plenty of food: Dinner at Chez Beo! All you can eat for 50.000 Dong

Good Night Cat
Good Night Cat

 
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Bái Đính Temple and Phát Diệm Cathedral

2016-05-08 at 14:23

This is the second part of the trip to the Bái Đính Temple. You can find the first part here: http://hastenteufel.name/blog/from-pho-chau-over-dan-luc-back-to-ninh-binh/.
From Bái Đính Temple we went to the Phát Diệm Cathedral in Phat Diem. The Phát Diệm Cathedral pictures are in the second part of this post!
Lets get back to the temple first:

Bái Đính Temple

You can go up the tower for a
You can go up the tower for a “donation”

The Past, the Present and the Future
The Past, the Present and the Future: Three bronze Tam The statues

The Past, Present and Future
Each statue of Tam The weighs 50 tons and is 12 metres high

The next project
The next project – another temple

Towards the old temple you pass the Hall of Turtles
Towards the old temple you pass the Hall of Turtles. The turtle shell is a symbol of heaven, and the square underside a symbol of earth. So one animal heaven and earth. It carries its round shell over the ground, like heaven, and has a flat bottom, like earth. The tortoise is sacred and symbolizes power, longevity and tenacity.

The gate to the old part of the temple
The gate to the old part of the temple

This one beats me! Must be one of the Forest gods. It is next to the entrance of the Cao Son Temple
This one beats me! Must be one of the Forest gods. It is next to the entrance of the Cao Son Temple

Cave Temple
The Cave Temple – it is about 25 meters long and has an exit at the end on the left that leads to a green valley and stairs that go down to the old Pagoda.

Another smaller temple - the original Pagoda of Bai Dinh
Another smaller temple – the original Pagoda of Bai Dinh

Than we went back to the parking lot with an electric bus – another 30.000 Dong. But saves you a long hike. Since we wanted to go to the Phát Diệm Cathedral as well it did save us a lot of time.

Flat Tire
And all that time was lost after I discovered a flat at the parking lot. A nice man jumped on his bike and drove to the next town to get his tools. He did fix it in a few minutes and 30.000 Dong later we where on the road

Pig Truck
Pig Truck

Tomb of an Emperor
Short stop for food at Hoa Lu ancient capital. It was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. After lunch we went up the mountain to the Tomb of an Emperor. Well not really a lot to see.

Old Temple
There is a small museum but not really worth to go and see. But if you do – stop at the temple of Lê Đại Hành next to it. It is really nice inside

Horses on the street
Horses on the street – something different after all the cows and goats I did see roaming on the streets of Vietnam

Phát Diệm Cathedral

The Phát Diệm Cathedral is located in the Kim Sơn District of Ninh Bình Province in Phat Diem town or Kim Son. We had to drive to Ninh Binh first and then almost 30 KM to the south-east. The architectural style of the Cathedral is a mix of Vietnamese and European. From the outside it does look like a Vietnamese Temple and not like a church. It was built between 1875 and 1899 but Catholicism in the area was wide-spread since the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century.

Aeroplane of Idiots
Aeroplane of Idiots? Why not!

Chapel of the Sacred Heart
Chapel of the Sacred Heart

Main entrance of the The Cathedral - Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
Main entrance of the The Cathedral or the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary

Inside the Phát Diệm Cathedral
Inside the Phát Diệm Cathedral: An orthodox-style altar. Above you find portraits of missionaries – most of them from Europe as well as Vietnamese martyrs. At the top – yes it is very small on the picture – Mary gives the rosary to St Dominic, the founder of the Dominican order.

Detail in the Phát Diệm Cathedral
The length of the cathedral is 64 metres and it is 18 metres wide.

Detail
Details from the front

Detail
Details from the side of the door

Detail
Details from the side of the door

Bell tower
The Bell Tower with three entrances and three tiers. It does represent heaven, earth and man in Asian cultures and it is the symbol of the Christian trinity.

Bell tower
The Bell Tower from the other side with the entrance of the Phát Diệm Cathedral in the back

Bell tower

Stone Church
The Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was almost entirely build out of stone in 1883. The central tower houses a statue of the virgin and is carved with Chinese characters and Romanised Vietnamese. It is one of the oldest examples of the writing in stone. The two towers on the side are built like the Tháp Bút (Pen Tower) at the Ngọc Sơn temple in Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi.

Window detail at the Stone Church
Window detail

Window detail at the Stone Church
Interesting little details all over: you will find the carving of a life cycle of the lotus. The lotus is the symbol of Buddhism. In the center of it you find a cross. There is a Yin-Yang symbol, a phoenix which would be the queen in Vietnam but here you will find Mary in this role. All to show us that different cultures and religions can exist together in harmony!

 
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