We headed north and then off the highway; as we went kilometer by kilometer further away from Ninh Binh the roads became increasingly more rural. After 40km of riding we reached the gates of the Cuc Phuong National Park, by this time we were on single track roads.
Stopping at the visitor centre to buy entry tickets and have a brief cold coke we then continued further into the national park; the roads were fantastic; deserted except for our two lone mopeds and a few buses that came through.
The first sight that we reached was a 7600year old cave/burial site. We paid a small 5,000dong (25p) entry charge and headed up some seriously steep steps to the cave. Initially the cave looked to be a bit dull; just one cavern, but after a bit of looking around we found a route out of the first cave into a whole maze of caverns and staircases, full of bats. We felt a bit like Indiana Jones with our torches and we enjoyed looking round the deserted ancient rock formations (and Ben and I enjoyed frightening the life out of the girls by hiding in the dark).
Back on the road we continued through the vast green scenery; on one hill we came very close to some small kind of cobra that was basking on the road; it actually spat out at rosie as they swerved to avoid it; rather scary.
We passed a huge tree that must have been hundreds of years old; the details weren't given, just a sign saying ancient tree. Finally we parked up to have a nice lunch in a small restaurant 19km into the park. Then because we wanted to get back to the hotel before rush hour on the highway we made a hasty retreat; bombing down the roads through the park and being careful to look out for snakes!
On the way back as we descended down onto the plains where the city lies, the views were breathtaking, it is hard to describe how amazing this country is; imagine a mixture of Jurassic Park and the plains of Africa.
We pelted back down the roads, Ben and I got a bit carried away with racing each other, but nothing dangerous. When we arrived back at the hotel it was around 4ish; in time for a shower to wash the copious amounts of dust and sweat off, and a meal. Before jumping on a night
bus later tonight to Hue.
Another epic day of exploring in Northern Vietnam.