Another interesting fact about Vietnam as an ex-French colony is that it still has a large concentration of practicing Catholics. We rode all the way out to Phat Diem Cathedral (about a 40 min drive from Ninh Binh) to have a look and walk around. It was surrounded by wedding shops-- and the town was obviously there to cater to the working class and the various Vietnamese tourists who happened to go by. I'm not so sure I would want to go that far out to see it again, but it was a very odd mixture of Chinese temple and Catholic church. And boy oh boy do I wish I had a Vietnamese phrasebook!