This post is probably quite late, but I have to express my gratitude and respect for this friend I made while planning my trip to Vietnam.
He is Luu Dinh Khoa. We called him Alex. I found his home stay listing in Ninh Binh on Facebook and that is where it all began... I interacted with him through emails, and soon realised that our dates were not working. Most conversations with hosts usually end here…however Alex went out of the way to suggest another really nice place..close to his home as an alternative for us. He ensured he booked the rooms with the most amazing views, and we did not have to pay a penny in advance. I wasn’t sure how this arrangement was working but decided to trust and move on..
Soon he became our sounding board for any questions around our trip..Next I bombarded him on planning Halong Bay trip..there again he offered several options, detailing out pros and cons of each option, and provided an added relationship discount that he could offer. I must admit I wasn’t sure why this man was doing all this.. I wasn’t even staying in his home stay?!
He then got us passes for the Halong bay, at prices lower than the listing on websites. In the meanwhile, we decided to make our lives difficult by planning to go to Ninh Binh from Halong bay. If you look online, there aren’t easy economical ways to do it, especially in the evening from Halong Bay. He went out of his way to find us a bus, which would make a stop somewhere on the highway and pick us up at 10:30 pm. Not only did he book the bus tickets in advance, he found us a restaurant on the highway where we could spend some time and be safe, and coordinated between the bus driver and the restaurant to ensure we got into the bus as planned at 11 pm in the night.
When we finally had the chance to meet him, I had only one question..Why was he doing this..Why would one go so far to help a total stranger, write long emails, stay up in the night to ensure the bus dropped us safely and not even charge us at the end of it all..
We found our answer, the world is still an amazing place, where gems like these exist, who just raise the bar of hospitality and faith..Alex is a bright young man, who works in a premium property in Hanoi, loves his home Ninh Binh and is happy to share his country with travellers. He is being such a great ambassador for Vietnam, who just wants goodwill and to put Ninh Binh on the map!
Do reach out to him, he writes in English and I am sure he will be really happy to help you during your time in Hanoi, as well as showcase Ninh Binh, the beauty!
His email id is: email@example.com
Home stay website: http://ninhbinhhomestay.com.vn/
Hope this helps! Enjoy Vietnam