After 8 nights on Cat Ba I'm ready to take off. Bike is packed, wrist seems to be okay, time to rock! Almost 20 miles to the ferry port, up and down. Slow boat to the next island, another 5 miles crossing laid back villages and crop fields towards the next ferry port. Children waving at me. Good vibes. Another ferry to the industrial area of Haiphong. Get myself a somewhat cheap digital camera as replacement for the disappeared good one. A few hours of daylight left, and I jump into the madness of Vietnamese traffic out of Haiphong, onto the Highway towards Ninh Binh. Motorbikes are barely faster than me, the nonstop-horning trucks and busses suck way more. Ghost riders are common, as well as sudden stopping of vehicles without indication. However, I make excessive use of my bell and bang through. As everyone, basically only watching what happens in front of me and hoping the people behind me do the same. Self organizing chaos. Happy to have a helmet. At 4:30, I stop in a town on the busy road, half sick from the noise and the fumes. Get a room for a few bucks. The guesthouse owners (or at least their daughter plus her husband) speak good English and invite me after diner for a bit of Karaoke singing. Wonderfull night. I should marry a Vietnamese girl, that's what they recommend. I'm not sure about that now...

Safety first please

Next day – 65 miles to go to Ninh Binh on that very highway. Earplugs and Beatles help a lot to deal better with the traffic noise. Meet an Japanese speaking young man by accident and talk for an hour, and learn a lot about Vietnam. Easy riding today, only flat and straight good roads. I reach Ninh Binh in the early afternoon, find the first really nice Cafe bar and end up with a surprise invitation to a Vietnamese wedding for diner. Lucky to escape the heavy drinking before loosing my orientation.

On the road

Two nice days in the best hotel in town, going around Ninh Binh on a rental motorbike with my travelling sister, first getting trapped in beautifull yet annoying tourist spots and eventually escaped to get some first taste of rural Vietnam off the beaten track. Then it is time to say good bye...

Buddha Cave

Tourist trap, a row of boats entering the famous caves