As our cool little adventure in Vietnam went on, after the cruise and about 100 museums, we knew it was time to see some jungle.
Checking the weather forecast about gazillion times, we realized we’d not be getting a sunny day for our trip. As it is not exactly summer in Vietnam, the weather has been mostly around 20 degrees, but as we were planning our jungle adventure, we noticed we’d be getting maximum 17 degrees and maybe some rain, instead of sun. Our original plan also included us staying in Ba Vi national park over night, but since we are just a bunch of princesses, we decided that Hilton Garden Inn in Hanoi would be much better option, and we could make it a day trip. As I had promised my ex co-worker that we’d go trekking, the enginerd was on a mission to figure out the logistics.
On the jungle fever day, we were picked up at our hotel at 8 in the morning. We got a nice car with a driver who spoke about 3 words of English, didn’t know the way to our destination, and had a great time listening to me trying to read Vietnamese. However, these things didn’t really matter as he was very relaxed and one of the 3 words he knew was “toilet”. The enginerd had booked the car via HTS, which is just one of the very many car services here. We paid 1 900 000 VND, for a 4 seat car.
In the end, we never went to Ba Vi, but Cuc Phuong national park, instead (not because our driver got lost but because we had changed our plans…). Once we arrived to the park, our driver, who had apparently never been there, looked very confused and obviously had no idea where to go. As we had opted for a visit without a paid guide, we probably had the same confused look on our face. The entrance of the park lacked clear instructions of where you could drive and how to find the trekking tracks. But just as pretty much every Vietnamese we’ve met so far, the park staff was very helpful, and in the end we got a guided tour to the monkey and turtle sanctuaries. I just asked the enginerd how much we paid to get into the park, and he says he doesn’t remember, but he says for three people the entrance fee was a bit over 200000 VND. (Do other travel bloggers actually write these things down??)
Okay, the park was really worth it. After the sanctuaries, we drove further into the park, and finally arrived to a place which looked like some kind of a station or meeting point or something, and found the only track there which didn’t state “Do not enter without a guide”. As the maps weren’t very clear (or we’re just a bit dumb), we were absolutely not sure if we were even on the right one, but turns out we were. We walked the track about 2,5 hours, and it was everything you’d expect from a jungle track, and more.
We didn’t see much wildlife (only one spider sighting for me wuhuu!!!), but we did climb up and down hills, saw a beautiful cave and hugged a ton of trees. I also got to ran away from a tiny river which was full of tadpoles which means there’s gotta be a mommy or daddy frog nearby which means there’s a great chance I’ll meet one and pass out, which means it’s time to leave the area as fast as possible because frogs climb up your leg and are slimy and scary and just weird as hell.
Other than acting totally rationally, we enjoyed the nature and the fact the air was clean, there were no extra noises (we made our own..), and the absolutely stunning nature. Really, truly beautiful. The track was easy to walk (a ton of climbing, though, so bring really good shoes), and there was really no chance to get lost.
After we got back, we enjoyed some much deserved beers and wine. The next day, we visited the Cong Vien Thong Nan -park, and spent some well deserved free time. At that point, it was almost time to start packing our stuff, as we only had a couple of days left. My dear ex co-worker was leaving a day before us, and we were making plans on how to get her to the airport, and us to InterContinental Hanoi Westlake for our final night. We had decided to stay in Hanoi for a bit longer than her, since the tickets were incredibly cheaper just one day later.
As we mostly spent our time in the old city, we do realize we would still have enough to see for another trip. After my friend left, we strolled around a little in the Westlake area, and learned there’s a whole different Hanoi available. On the day she left, we all visited the bar district near lake Ho Hoam Kiem, and figured out where all the backpackers spent their time. Although the place’s filled with bars and restaurant (and yes, even cider on tap, something my friend had been craving for the whole time 😦 ), we’re very happy our Vietnam experience concentrated mainly on visiting historical sites and museums, going to Ha Long bay and trekking. We didn’t visit Saigon, or any other big cities than Hanoi. We avoided using public transportation since Uber is so seriously cheap and convenient here, plus we walked almost everywhere we went. Maybe we missed out for not hanging out in bars late at night (we did, however, test taste local beers and wines on several occasions), but we learned so much about the country’s history (shame on you French and Americans!), walked around so much and experienced the friendliness of the local people so many times, that there’s no way this trip could’ve been any better.
As we’re heading back to Taipei today, to face old responsibilities (doing dishes, taking out the trash, studying 😦 ) and new challenges, we will do so knowing that our understanding of Asia has just gotten a bit better.
Have a great week!
PS: I will not be posting this Friday, since I am taking two language tests (IELTS which lasts two days and a placement test for the intensive Chinese class) and an interview for a university, all within the next 7 days, and I’ll have to concentrate on those. However, please feel free to share your experiences or maybe your very own bucket list (see ours here), check out the first part of our Vietnam experience and continue being awesome ♥