It was a four hour drive from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay, made quite comfortable in our air conditioned van. The road was good and the traffic was steady, without ever becoming too heavy. It rained on and off. In one place the traffic ground almost to a halt. There was a bus stopped on the side of the road and a large group of onlookers. Police were directing traffic around it. As we passed, we could see a motorbike under its front wheels. There was no injured person in sight, and I can only hope that he or she was able to exit the bike before it went under the bus. Despite the traffic chaos and apparent disregard for road rules that we have perceived, this was the first evidence we had seen of anyone coming to grief on a Vietnamese road.
When we reached Halong City, we had a brief visit to a pearl company for a demonstration of how pearls are farmed and recovered from the oyster shells. And, of course, in a venue like this, you always have to exit via the shop – that’s bound to be a distraction.