Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cuc Phuong National Park

kilometers cycled: 1998.8
Total punctures: 2

We have spent the last two nights and a full day in the Cuc Phuong National Park, which is just over 45km from Ninh Binh. It has been absolutely beautiful, and very peaceful.

The past two mornings, we have awoken in our stilt-house to the sound of a pack of Gibbons whooping near by - sooo lovely, and a refreshing break from traffic and roosters, both of which seem to get going around 5am! The Gibbons were much more considerate and waited 'till 7am before they pleasantly woke us with their chorus.

The first day, we cycled from Ninh Binh to the National Park, and after checking into our lovely stilt-house (kind of like a tree hut), we checked out the Primate Rescue Centre that they have on-site. We were shown around by an informative park ranger, and it really was great to see all the different monkeys (and gibbons) swinging around their (big and comfortable!) cages. The Gibbons especially were an amazing sight when they really got into full flight, the speed at which they zipped around their encolusure with their looong arms was surprising!

Most species were very endangered, and many had been rescued from poachers or smugglers. Lots of the primates had small babies with them, so apparently the breeding programme is working well... The Rescue Centre rehabilitates the primates intensively (in large cages), and then they are released to a protected enclosure, where they receive limited food and human contact, and then some are eventually released into the larger park, where they are self-sufficient. It really is great work.

Yesterday, we cycled into the park centre (20km from the entry gate - a beautiful ride through temperate rainforest) and completed two treks - one to see an enormous "thousand-year-old" tree. We also stopped off along the way into the centre to trek to a "cave of prehistoric man", which, when discovered in the 1960's contained remains of three prehistoric people, suggestive of elaborate burial ritual. The cave itself was quite impressive, and we were grateful to have headlamps to explore it a little better - we even managed to spot a group of small bats on the ceiling!

Cuc Phuong National Park really was beautiful, and a slice of Vietnam that many people don't get to see - it was really great to experience the forest, animals, and other people without the huge amount of pollution and garbage that seems to intrude the rest of the country...

Anyway, we are back in Ninh Binh this afternoon, and will continue on to Thai Binh tomorrow, then Haiphong.

All the best to everyone at home - we love hearing from you.

E & V xoxo

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