Tuesday 29 June: From Cat Ba town I buy a combined bus-boat-bus ticket and after six-hours find myself back on the mainland in Ninh Binh's accommodating little Thanh Thuy Hotel. The newish east-meets-west style cathedral looks, well, different. No one knows me here so I ignore an "Hello Dave", but it's good to see Liza and Eric again. We swap stories over dinner before they depart on the evening bus to Hue.
Wednesday 30: A motorbike taxi takes me, via a hill-top viewpoint over Tam Coc river park, to Trang An, a recently opened-up stretch of boating-river where, mostly female, rowers take you on a relaxing three-hour trip through the krast limestone waterscape. When their arms tire the women use their legs and they are amazingly good at it - I've not been on a foot-powered rowing boat before (57th mode of transport).
At 9:00pm it's the double-decker single multi-bunk sleeper bus (58th mode) for the 11-hour journey to Hue. My bed is still warm from the previous occupant who has just got off the bus.
Photos in and around Ninh Binh.