Trang An, The World Heritage Landscape Of The Ascending Dragon, Minh Binh, Vietnam

Trang An, The World Heritage Landscape Of The Ascending Dragon, Minh Binh, Vietnam

While in Hanoi, we made two day trips to the countryside.
Each trip was a very full day, departing early morning and returning late in the evening.

It was a poetic journey, as our first day trip was to Trang An, a World Heritage Landscape that is locally named “The Ascending Dragon” in the ancient area of Minh Binh, and the second day trip was to the famous Halong Bay, the land of the Descending Dragon.

Trang An is an amazing landscape of limestone formations located in a river, while Halong Bay has the same amazing limestone formations, but they are located in the salt waters of a bay that opens to the South China Sea.

We were picked up early in the morning at our hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and were transferred to Ninh Binh.

We first stopped in Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam from the years 968 to 1010.
The remains of the ancient capital contain temples, pagodas, paddy-fields and the small villages which were established here hundreds of years ago.

Actually, the area was lived in way before the formation of Vietnam.
Exploration of caves at different altitudes in the area has revealed archaeological traces of human activity over a continuous period of more than 30,000 years.
These mountains were lived in by seasonal hunter-gatherers, and later they adapted to major climatic and environmental changes by becoming rice growers and cultivating vegetables in the valleys.

We visited an ancient temple dedicated to King Dinh and King Le, and learned a bit about Vietnamese history under the Dinh, Le, and Ly Dynasties.

Before lunch, we mounted rusty bicycles that could not be adjusted for our correct heights, and happily cycled around the local village and the amazing landscape.
Cycling was so much fun, because it really puts you inside the landscape, instead of seeing it from a distance.
We admired the beautiful mountains, the river and the lakes.

On our return cycle, we saw women selling whole roasted goats by the side of the road.
Each woman sat alone under an umbrella, and in front of her was a small table, and on the table was a whole roasted goat, complete with the head, ears, legs, feet and tail.

There were perhaps six or eight street stalls like these, and I didn’t see anyone buying.
But I did wonder if people would buy just a leg and then she would slice it for them, or more likely, people would buy the whole goat for family festivities.

Our buffet lunch in a Ninh Binh Heritage restaurant, was surprisingly delicious, with lots of veg options and local specialties of steamed rice cakes and rice crackers from rice that is grown in the region.

Trang An is a beautiful World Heritage Site, recognized by UNESCO in 2014.

Situated near the southern part of the Red River Delta, the Trang An area is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks and valleys, many of them partly submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs.

We spent a couple of hours in a wooden boat that was rowed by a local woman.
We tried to help with our own paddles, made from bamboo or just improvised from plastic tubes.

Despite the crowds of people, it was truly a stunning landscape, enhanced by the beautiful old Buddhist temples that were built on little islands in the wider parts of the river and lakes.

These old temples were once occupied by monks who were supplied daily by the locals, who brought provisions of rice and vegetables from nearby Minh Binh city by small wooden boats.

I really enjoyed the beauty of this place, with its quietly flowing waters which created an extraordinarily beautiful and tranquil landscape.
There are frangipani trees by the isolated ornate temples situated on the calm river.

The vertical mountains are draped in natural rainforests, with large internal basins and narrow cave passages.
We passed through these caves, and after each cave, I felt like we had entered another magical landscape.

The tall vertical karsts, the wooden temples, the birds, the ducks, and the occasional goat munching on reeds by the river, made my heart calm and happy.
What a truly beautiful world we live in….

Our last destination was Mua Cave, also known as the “Great Wall of China” in Vietnam.
From the foot of a mountain, we climbed many stone steps to reach the mountain’s peak.
At the top, there were two ways to climb to two different peaks.

We admired the fantastic view of the landscape below.
For those who do not wish to climb up, there is a wooden boardwalk next to a huge pond filled with water lilies and lotus flowers which makes a relaxing stroll.

I was tired by the time we returned to Hanoi, despite the beautiful and soul nourishing landscape that we saw today.
I think it was the combination of cycling, climbing many steps up a mountain in extreme heat, and rowing to help the hard working boat lady, mixed with the bumpy roads and the fact that we sat at the back of the bus, where we jumped out of our seats with every pothole.

It was still a fabulous day, and I would not have wanted to miss this amazing magical landscape.

Sending you light and love,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *