Motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail Begins – Cuc Phuong National Park

I’ve set off on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a series of roads that ran wartime supplies through Laos and Vietnam.  Alas, I will not be taking my bike into Laos multiple times but the modern trail is a highway through the beautiful inland of Vietnam.

Vietnam has a lot of beautiful peaks slowly enveloped by passing high altitude fog.

The first stop is Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam’s oldest and not very far from Hanoi physically but a whole world away mentally.  Ho Chi Minh stopped during the war to create it, he believed protecting green space was that important.  It is a beautiful park but could use a few machetes to clear the overgrown trails.

Baby langurs are adorable and live in the pouches of their mothers. I don’t know if I’d ever seen such long armed creatures moving so fast!

The park contains conservation centers as Vietnam has a huge variety of many animals but is so close to China that they are very much involved in the illegal trade of them.  I visited the turtle and primate conservation centers.  The small carnivore one is sadly not open to public.

So many rescued turtles! They were all over the paths they let you walk in. It was amusing to see them shrink into their shells as you passed.

Tag, you’re it! These guys were extra frisky. There was another box exhibit where the baby turtle had just about escaped.

It makes me really happy to see that even in Vietnam, where often roads are covered in trash and people don’t seem to have a regard for life, that they value their natural history and wildlife around them.  There may be many people who don’t care but it still makes me smile to see there are those who do.

The cave of prehistoric man where they excavated stone axes and burial sites.

I’m always amused that Asia’s hiking usually involves lots of paved paths.  This is great for me bicycling through the park leisurely but less good for hiking in this misty, often raining sub tropical forest.  Those are some slippery, mossy steep steps up to things!

Lots of beautiful, moss covered stairways. The one person-wide section that had fallen off was a bit worrisome.

April and May is butterfly season so I’ve caught the beautiful end of it.  I already loved these little guys fluttering across my path in the northwest, mostly in whites and yellows.  Here they exploded in every color of the rainbow.  From tiny half inch purple ones exploding in the hundreds when you ride past their grove to giant cream blending into golden brown and black ones majestically flapping away.  Even the whitish green one in the bathroom with the large drooping wings was beautiful to see up close.  Various white ones snaked within my bicycle and legs.  Sorry butterflies, I prefer my mating dances less fluttery.

This is a fuzzy picture but it’s hard to capture the dynamic explosion that is hundreds of butterflies suddenly appearing.

Never have I wished more that I had a camera that could take exactly what I saw at the speed I saw them.  The ride, the butterflies, everything I am seeing is like magic and I wish I could share more.

I often want to share what I see on my slower two wheels, the bicycle. At least it’s easier to stop and snap a few shots on that.

Every day is a new landscape of rice fields as far as the horizon and karst formations pushing their way up from the ground.  The cities of Vietnam I have tolerated for their delicious eats, but the countryside is capturing my heart.

How could you not love this? It’s even more beautiful because you can’t feel the humidity through a computer.

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