This is Paige writing.
I was kind of sad to find out that we wouldn't be spending the day and night at Ha Long Bay. I really needed that dip in the water. Going to Ninh Binh was fine and on the way, we stopped at a traditional looking restaurant. We were served French fries, goat kabobs, pork rolls, rice, really yummy pork in an amazing sauce. I thought the pork in sauce was goat, so I ate multiple servings just for the experience. Oh well. On our way out of the restaurant, we stopped at the gift shop. I bought a plate, a wine stand, and a Vietnamese doll, kind of like a Barbie doll. The ladies gave me pretty good prices for the items but as I was paying they would throw in a $2 tip for themselves or ask me for my American change. I gave in just to make them happy.
Our boat experience in Ninh Binh was a little different than Jaye's. Allie and I were paired in a boat with two women. I was apprehensive about getting in the boat because we weren't exactly sitting in the boat. We actually sat on mud planks that stretched from both sides of the boat. A photographer continuously snapped pictures of us. He told us multiple times to do the same pose (the peace sign) and to even stand up. The women rowing our boat were very friendly and we made such a bond that they asked Allie and I to buy them snacks. We came back to the hotel and we were free to explore. Allie, Carly, Melissa and I ended up at the Puku restaurant for dinner and the food was pretty good. We explored a little bit until check in.
This morning we were picked up by Mr. Dom and Anh and went to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, but because of the strikes and the mountains of people, we weren't able to get in line. We'll go next Sunday when things will be calmer. Instead of the mausoleum, we went to the Pottery Village. I bought some very nice tea sets and random things for decent prices so Cheri stands corrected when she says we really should haggle. ( :-) ) After the Village, we stopped for lunch and a super buffet and then visited the Museum of Ethnology of Vietnam. We learned about different ethnic groups in Vietnam. It was really hot in the museum but we got to spend some time outside, too, where there were many exhibits of houses and other structures.