The Magic Of Ninh Binh

A couple of years ago I wrote about one of my favourite places in South East Asia here. I was of course talking about Ninh Binh. It is absolutely beautiful, peaceful and not yet full of tourists (although I’m sure that with the success of the new King Kong movie, that will all change, since it was filmed here).

When I wrote about my first time visiting Ninh Binh 7 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I’d have a chance to go back there, let alone twice!

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Luckily it’s only a 2 hour drive from Hanoi so it’s the perfect place to go to escape the stress of the city.

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Sometimes returning to a place can be a terrible idea and all of the beautiful memories can be destroyed, luckily Ninh Binh really hasn’t changed all that much since the first time that I was there.

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I highly recommend stopping here while on your trip to Vietnam, especially at this time of the year when the rice paddies are so beautiful. They harvest at the end of May, so if you want to see golden rice paddies, go in May!

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Here are a few of my favourite things to do in Ninh Binh:

Take a Bike Ride

This is one of my highlights when I go to Ninh Binh. It’s the perfect way to take in the slow pace of life and the beautiful scenery. Be warned that your arm might get sore from waving to the many people that greet you along the way. Most guesthouses and homestays offer free bike rental.

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Stay Among The Rice Paddies

I cannot recommend this option enough. If there is one thing that you must do while in Ninh Binh it’s this! We have stayed at the Ninh Binh Panorama twice now and both times have been truly magical. There is no road leading to it, just a dirt path and it is in a magical valley. It is perfectly secluded and you have the best view of the rice paddies and the limestone karsts. In fact, the second time that we stayed here we didn’t even bother with any of the tourist attractions because the views are probably better than anything else you’ll see in Ninh Binh.

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Our sweet little hut

 

Rent a Boat on Tam Coc

This one is a bit of a hit and miss. Yes the scenery that you get to take in on the boat ride is absolutely beautiful but the river is full of tourists and the boat ride goes on for a bit too long for my liking. I’ve done it twice and both times I’ve been dying for the boat ride to finish by the end. I have heard that Thung Nham is more beautiful, especially at sunset because there are many birds in that area. I have yet to go but hopefully the next time we go to Ninh Binh we’ll go there.

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Photo credit: Alotravel Asia

Climb the Mua Caves

This is a mountain with caves at the bottom and steps all the way to the top which has an epic view of the surrounding area. Surprisingly, it never felt very busy there at all!

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This is at the bottom of the mountain

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How to get there:

It’s so easy to get to Ninh Binh, there are many options. If you walk in to any travel agent in the Old Quarter they can book a tourist bus for you and it picks you up from your hotel. If you are on a budget then you can make your way to Giap Bat bus station and jump on one of the many local buses that go that way. There is also a train that goes from Hanoi to Ninh Binh or if you have the cash to spend, you can hire a private car. If you are feeling adventurous, you can always drive there by motorbike. This is what we did on our most recent trip to Ninh Binh and it is an easy route, you just stay on the same road for the entire time.

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How about you? Have you ever been to Ninh Binh? Are there any things that you would add to this list?

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I’m Back!

After taking nearly a year off from blogging for various reasons, I’m finally back and so excited to continue writing about my adventures. A lot has changed since I last wrote and it would probably take more than one blog post to explain everything.

But basically, I now live in Vietnam!
I absolutely loved Colorado, seriously, it was the best place ever! Unfortunately, the job market there, not so much. I struggled so much with trying to find a decent job, which I never actually did find. This led to me feeling depressed and worthless. I was stuck in a job that I didn’t like and earning terrible money. It was the first time in my life that I started regretting all of the amazing experiences that I’ve had. But, myself and Jason also volunteered at a local college in Denver to help refugees and immigrants learn English. This was an incredible experience and it made me realize that I enjoy teaching and since I have so much experience in teaching ESL, maybe I should focus on getting the qualifications related to this.

We also realized that it would be near impossible to get Masters in Colorado with the jobs that we were in and not rack up a huge amount of debt, so this led to us looking for work abroad again.

It was so hard leaving Colorado, the sunshine, mountains, beer, Denver, mountain towns, friends etc. but we have been in Vietnam for about 6 months now and are enjoying our time here. We are also researching Masters programs which is exciting and if all goes well, I will be starting mine next year.img_20160815_211359

 

I will still write about all of the fun things that we did in Colorado and of course write about our time in Vietnam. I’m so happy to be back!!!

My Life in Denver So Far…

fotor_145420870375361.jpgI have been a terrible blogger! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted a blog entry.

Life has been very up and down here for me so I’ve just been really focusing on trying to get settled, getting outside and into the mountains and reading more.20160124_105147.jpg

I also started my job, which has been exhausting! Running around after 3 year olds all day can be tough and I find that I’m exhausted in the evenings!

My state of mind has definitely been up and down a lot here in Denver. I have been having a hard time accepting that things definitely aren’t going the way we had hoped and then continuing to hope that it will get better.20160206_173645.jpg

We are both trying to figure out what career choices are the best for us, I think this current job that I have has helped me realize that I definitely don’t want to be teaching young children long term. The dream of getting a job in marketing is still there and it’s stronger than ever now, so fingers crossed that something will happen for me!img_20160123_181636.jpg

But every time that I’m feeling low or lost (which was happening quite frequently) I try to get lost in the beautiful outdoors of Colorado and remember why we moved here (which works…EVERY TIME!).fotor_145610044155979.jpgimg_20160130_145745.jpg

Road-tripping from Colorado to Washington…and back again

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As I mentioned in my previous post, our Christmas in Washington was awesome!
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On our drive up to Washington, we decided to take a different route than the one that we took when we first arrived in Colorado. We thought that it was too much of a risk to drive through Montana and northern Idaho with the snowy weather and mountain passes. So this time around we drove north in to Wyoming, then west into Utah, then into Idaho and Oregon and finally crossing north in to Washington.

It was a long 2 day drive, but the views were absolutely incredible!
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We’ve both decided that even from the small part of Utah that we got to see, that it looks like a beautiful state and we wouldn’t mind moving there! We also stopped in Boise Idaho for a short while and decided that it looked like a cool city with a beautiful backdrop of foothills.
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Below are some photos that we took during our road trip.

I hope you enjoy them 🙂
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A Day Trip To Vail

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Last week, I was feeling pretty down about the job hunt so myself and Jason decided to take a day trip to Vail, CO. So I’m sure most of you have heard of Vail before but if not then it’s a big ski resort in the mountains about an hour and a half away from Denver.
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The drive to Vail is absolutely beautiful, we passed some other smaller ski resorts such as Brekenridge and the scenery was just breathtaking!
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Once we arrived we found a parking lot (which was shockingly expensive, $20 for 2 hours parking!)

We got Willy and walked around the town.
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It’s an absolutely beautiful town, it’s so clean with beautiful German inspired buildings everywhere.
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There was a beautiful skating rink and small local stores everywhere.

It was such a great way to spend a day and it has made me so excited for the thousands of other small towns in the mountains that myself and Jason have yet to explore!
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The place that I want to go the most is Telluride. They have an awesome Bluegrass festival in the summer and unfortunately the tickets went on release last Friday and are almost sold out (being unemployed makes it impossible to afford it right now) But I’m sure that this time next year I’ll be more than prepared to get some tickets!

How about you? What’s your favorite Colorado town?
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My Top 5 Uniquely Asian Activities

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of my Top 5 posts and as I sit here in a wintery Colorado, my mind is currently being transported back to wonderful Asia.

As you know, It is impossible to choose just five but here it goes, in no particular order, These are my top five uniquely Asian experiences.

Doing a temple stayIMG_9198

This was such an amazing experience that I will treasure for a long time to come. Asia is the best place to find a temple stay that will teach you about Buddhism and meditation. It’s a great way to strip away any stress that you may have and also learn a bit about the country that you are in.

Hiking in the Himalayasimg_4378

They are an amazing mountain range with the highest peaks in the world. There is nothing more magical than knowing that you are standing on the roof of the world and seeing beauty around every corner.

Seeing the Taj MahalIMG_5171

Few famous buildings live up to their hype but the Taj Mahal definitely isn’t one of them. I remember just being in complete awe when first setting eyes on it. It is amazingly beautiful and will leave you breathless.

tip: Go first thing in the morning to beat the crowds.

Seeing Orangutans in Borneocb61f-malaysia058

Okay, Asia has some wonderful wildlife and you can just as easily replace the word orangutans with turtles, whale sharks, tigers or rhinos. But for me, when I got to see orangutans up close and personal without barriers at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, it was astounding. It was something that I had dreamed about for years and when it finally happened I was left in awestruck.

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Yes, I know that karaoke exists everywhere in the world, but to enjoy a karaoke session somewhere in Asia, it’s a completely different experience. Most singing rooms are small and fit a private group of people. While in the room, you snack on food, drink alcohol and sing songs while playing the tambourine. Also, most of these places are open 24 hours so you can enjoy it after a night of partying. I have had way too much fun in singing rooms over the years, especially the ones that have costumes!

 

Okay, so that’s my list…how about you? is there anything that you’d add, or remove from this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My First Trip To The Mountains

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We finally made it up to the mountains!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the mountains weren’t a huge part of why we decided to move to Denver. Thoughts of snowshoeing during the winter and backpacking and camping during the summer get me all kinds of excited. (I must add that I’ve never even tried snowshoeing before, but I know that I’m going to love it)

A few days ago myself and Jason were looking for jobs and getting stressed about life. The weather was absolutely amazing out, so I decided to drop everything and get Jason to go on a little day trip with me.

We decided to go to Georgetown as it’s not very far away from Denver but it’s still far enough to be in the mountains.
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The drive was a nice 40 minutes with not a lot of traffic (the joys of being jobless and going on a random Tuesday). It was right off of the highway but felt like it could have been a million miles away. The historic part of town had the most beautiful victorian style houses and gorgeous Western style shop fronts.
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All of the stores seemed to be locally owned and sold local products (which is awesome). We stopped to get some delicious ice-cream that was made in the town next to Georgetown.
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After walking around for a while, we decided to drive up a pass next to the town. It was a beautiful drive and it brought us up high enough to where there was some snow on the ground…it got me pretty excited about wintertime.
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We were driving for about 30 minutes when we looked at our GPS and realized that there was still a long way to go so we decided to turn back.
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Once back in Georgetown we drove to the train station. The train in Georgetown is very famous and the ride is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately it was closed when we went there, but it’ll give us a reason to go back in the summer.
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Overall, I loved this little town and it has made me so excited and eager to visit many other small mountain towns in Colorado!