Tam CocNovember 1 in Vietnam
Today we woke up in Tam Coc near Ninh Binh. We are spending a few days here just touring around. It's quite nice to stay put for awhile. We're staying at a homestay run by a very pleasant family. The room is $20 with a breakfast on the terrace included. Tam Coc is a World Heritage site based on its unique landscape and cultural history. It is described as 'an inland Ha Long Bay without the hordes'.
We spent the day visiting the Bai Ding temple and pagoda. It is the largest Buddhist complex in Vietnam. We mainly hiked around the grounds and reflected on our experiences here. At one point we discussed my observation, gleaned over the past few years of near continuous travel, that tourists the world over seem to not be a happy lot. No one smiles. Very few people will initiate conversation to 'break the ice'. It's not at all what I recall from my pre old fogy days. It's especially evident in countries like Vietnam where the people do smile, are curious, and generally pleased to meet you. To have tourists generally walking around in perpetual scowls is quite the contrast. Augie thinks it's a matter of timing and context, citing the youth being more friendly in the hostels he's visited. He did note that they all seem to 'put on a serious game face' when out in the street. More to keep the people at bay, he says. We both agreed that it could be social media. People research an experience and expect it to be as it has been portrayed by countless others. Genuine contact and interaction with people may be anathema to the experience. Anyway, Bai Ding was quite nice.
In the evening we watched the egrets return to their roosting sites as the sun set over the nearby mountains. Dinner was at a place called Chookies. Good wood-fired pizza and beer. Ahhh.Read more