We left Hanoi to head to Ninh Binh on our third day. After a couple hours on the road, we ate lunch and had some downtime before our afternoon adventure. We were all well rested when we got to the Bai Dinh Temple, which was good, because there was a LOT of walking to be done!
This place is a sprawling complex of Buddhist temples, including the Bai Dinh Pagoda. The pagoda was so far up the mountain that only one person in our group made it – the rest of us were too worn out from all the climbing! I was focused on one thing the whole time – seeing the humongous buddha. The complex begins with a walk past levels and levels and levels and levels of arhat statues. An arhat is someone who advanced far on the path of Enlightenment but who may not have reached full Buddhahood. There were hundreds of arhats lining this complex. They seemed to go on forever. They lead up, up, up, the mountain to the Phap Chu Hall, where a 100 TON BUDDHA lives. It was humongous and absolutely worth the hike up the mountain!
While we were there, we also went to the bell tower, which holds a 36 ton bronze bell. Everything about this place was just massive and it was a very serene place to spend a couple of hours. It was also blazing hot and humid while we were there, so my second favorite part of this trip was getting a popsicle while we were waiting for the golf carts to take us back to the bus. My favorite part was obviously the great photos!