Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saturday, another day of experiences

The day started earlier than expected with the local wildlife rising early. First was the rooster at about 4.30. This was closely followed by the dog barking, not long after was the squealing pig. Did not realize at the time that the pig had a very good reason to be squealing! More shortly. Many locals were up and about early, well, the sun was rising I suppose, and many domestic jobs to be done. As we climbed out of bed and headed for the just tepid showers, we spotted the large group of men with fires going and pots and woks heating. Today is day 3 of the funeral celebrations and the pig mentioned earlier, was already in many pieces, being prepared for today's feast. The men had responsibility for the day. Women were doing other things like harvesting rice or chopping wood.
Breakfast for us was very western. Fried eggs (may have been duck eggs) baguettes, with butter and jam and a banana. Tea and coffee (but only condensed milk, too sweet). Can't have everything!
On the road again after farwelling our very gracious hosts. It was to be a long day to get to Cuc Phuong National Park. (150km). Not that far, but most of it was on some of the worst roads you have seen. Our transit van was rocked and rolled all the way. Ting did a marvelous job as it took enormous skill and concentration to get us here in one piece. Especially since the roads were still busy with heaps of trucks and scooters and bikes. Market day everyday, but saw plenty of roadside markets with lots of live produce in very small cane baskets, mostly chickens and pigs. I saw one scooter that had at least 10 small pigs on board.
The road trip was pretty wearing, but made it here at about 12.30. Had lunch, checked in to our basic rooms, then walked to the nearby Primate Rescue Centre. Many species of primates are nearly extinct here because of hunting (mostly for the Chinese market). These monkeys are confiscated and injured ones. They are returned to good health, and ultimately returned to the wild. Mostly funded by a German foundation, with a number of volunteers (including Australians)
After that we had trek through the National Park to see the 1,000 year old tree. It was a long 3km walk each way on some slippery surfaces, as it had started raining. Fortunately the tree canopy stopped most of the water coming through. RR left his poncho on for a while longer and was drenched underneath as it was still quite warm. When he did take it off, he was steaming!
Back for some R n R before dinner and to discuss plans for tomorrow. It seems that the Typhoon that is brewing off the coast of Nth Vietnam may alter our plans a little. We are supposed to be heading to the Ninh Binh region where we will do a 12km bike ride, followed by a 2hr rowboat ride at Tam Coc through some limestone caves. Hung will get advice from his tour company as to whether it is safe for us, otherwise it will be back to Hanoi a little earlier than expected. Can't do anything about the weather, but we will be playing it safe.
This part of our journey has been amazing, a little rugged at times, but it has given us a real insight into rural communities. Having a ball, but getting weary. Will need a holiday when we get home to recover!

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