When we arrived at Cuc Phuong National Park on Thursday 27th February we were told we had to wear masks and wash our hands in sanitiser – this was probably the first time the Corona virus fears/prevention methods had been noticeable to me here in Vietnam. I hated wearing the cloth mask they gave us, both because it was hard to breathe with it on and I didn’t really see the point to them. It turned out it wasn’t so that we didn’t catch or spread Corona virus, it was so we didn’t give anything to the monkeys we were about to see. We saw loads of rescued monkeys of all kinds and the guide was brilliant at explaining about each one. They were gorgeous and I tried to get some photos but most were quite fast. We also got to see and learn about the rescued turtles and in one pond I thought they were just decoration and not real. Unfortunately we were not allowed to visit the pangolins because of the risk of them becoming sick, they are so endangered, and the rescued tigers were also not for visiting that day. Still, we had a good time and it was definitely worth the visit and had clean toilets with soap! Our driver also took us further in to the national park and dropped us at some steps so we could walk up to a cave. I took it slowly while the other two got excited and off they went to explore.
We drove on to the next destination which was in the rice terraces of Pu Luong where our friend, Trouble, had booked the accomodation at Pu Luong Natura and the views were breathtaking. We were greeted with a cold towel and an iced tea drink by a lady in traditional Thai dress as the villagers here are ethnic minority people. While she was explaining the check-in details I went to have a look at the pool and gardens – it was impressive and the photos don’t really do it justice. The rooms were so nice – two separate twin rooms with balconies overlooking the famous rice terraces. We were told we had missed lunch and had a couple of hours to wait until dinner so we had a drink (I got my emergency raisins out) and some free peanuts. For dinner we were told it would be a good idea to order ahead as there was a big group and so we did – the food was great and the restaurant, although busy, was small and comfortable. We had pork in coconut and spring rolls to share and then a duck with chillies for Captain Caveman and Trouble to share. We were also given free laundry (which was returned after dinner) and a free foot bath which I booked in for the next day. We shared a nice bottle of wine too and then went back to our own rooms, agreeing to meet for breakfast at 8am the next day.
I didn’t want to get out of bed on Friday 28th February, it was just so comfy. Outside there was an atmospheric mist covering the mountains and making it look like we were living in the sky. Captain Caveman and Trouble decided to take themselves off on a self guided 14km walk while I was quite happy to just relax for the day. After a nice healthy breakfast of fruit and noodle soup off they went and I got busy with some writing. The time flew by and lunchtime crept up on me, I’d just got my lunch of chicken, cashew nut and veggie stir fry when Captain Caveman called to say they were in need of a taxi to bring them back, having finished their walk. We had an afternoon cocktail and chilled by the pool, I had a foot spa and an amazing foot massage with wine and free peanuts, before going to get ready for our last dinner at Natura. We had a lovely meal and shared a bottle of white wine before going for a quick stroll out of the hotel to see if we could see the stars over the rice terraces – we couldn’t and the sky was very black. We said goodnight and agreed to meet at 6am the next morning.
We certainly made the most out of having an extra day in the year. On Saturday 29th February we were out by the pool at 6am so that all three of us could enjoy a sunrise walk. As it turned out there was too much cloud but we did have a lovely walk through the rice terraces which were so beautiful. We had our last breakfast at Natura before getting ready to leave by private car to Hanoi airport. Our friend would be taking her flight back home that evening but Captain Caveman and I had decided to fly back from Hanoi to Dong Hoi the next day, which gave us a bit of time to catch up with friends in Hanoi.