Yesterday Gemma seemed a little upset when we pulled up for a rest stop and exclaimed to me through gasping breath “you’re not even puffing”, well I hope she’s happy now because today was a bit of a slog.
This morning we drove a few kilometres from our resort to the gates of Cuc Phuong National Park where our cycling began. The national park is a nature reserve and home to an Endangered Primate Rescue Centre and Turtle Conservation Centre but first on our agenda was to see the thousand year old tree. Only 20km’s of up and down to get there.
The morning was not particularly hot but the air was very dense. The kind of humidity that has you breaking into a sweat just breathing and within only a few kilometres we were wet through. The national park has a really nice road through a jungle that in any other weather would be really pleasent to ride. Not that I have any regrets, but it was an accomplishment just to get to the end.
Along the road they have placed signs before the larger hills stating their gradient, particularly the steeper ones will have 10% at their base. This is useful information to let you know to drop a gear or 6 but frankly I’d probably rather not know what I’m in for. Starting in maybe 14th gear or so I’d quickly drop down to about 5, then 4, 3, 2 and finally 1 where the only options are to grit your teeth and battle on or get off and walk (which wouldn’t be much slower anyway). But we made it. Click here for the GPS track
And what were we rewarded with at the end, a 7-8km walk through the jungle to see a big old tree! I’ve never been so wet without being under water. The tree is quite amazing and worth seeing but maybe think about paying one of the locals a few dong to take you to the base of the walk by scooter rather than ride their and walk immediately after.
Following the walk we had lunch of fried rice and soup before driving back to see the primates and turtles. We took a quick tour with one of the guides there and were impressed with the work being done. In Vietnam and some of the surrounding countries, turtles and primates are hunted for their meat and also used in some traditional medicines (that have no scientific founding). The centres here have been successfully rehabilitating animals retrieved from poachers as well as many bred in the centre.
We squeezed a lot into today and our tired bodies are really feeling it. We’re almost half way through the tour, maybe we’ve reached the top of the 10% incline and the next 6 days will be like the gentle downhill that always follows?