Taking a trip by row boat along a river that passes through three caves is sure to be a good adventure. Throw in a landscape of limestone towers covered in thick vegetation, and the trip gets even better. Add to this a woman who rows your boat with her feet, and the trip takes on a new dimension of special. Set all this in the land of Vietnam, and the trip ascends to legendary status.
Located in the northeastern province of Ninh Binh, the Ngo Dong River meanders through a rural landscape, passing verdant rice paddies and jagged limestone formations. A popular tourist trip is to take a row boat from the village of Van Lam and pass through three caves, collectively called Tam Coc in Vietnamese. Nearly all of the boats are rowed by women, most of whom use their feet to propel the oars. Dozens of row boats ferry tourists up and down the slowly moving river.
My boat was operated by two Vietnamese women. One woman sat at the back of the boat, rowing with her feet. The other woman sat in the middle of the boat and tried to sell us handmade, embroidered cloth. Joining me on the boat was a lovely traveler from Singapore named Joanne. Joanne and I sat at the front of the boat, snapping pictures and taking in the glory of the passing scenery.
Vietnam is awesome. Tam Coc is not to be missed.