Ba Be National Park

Trip Start Nov 22, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our first destination outside Hanoi was Ba Be National Park, about 260km north. It took us about 4 hours along reasonably good roads in our minivan. The minivan is great - new and comfortable, with our (so far) safe driver Mr Phuong. AS you can imagine, road rules are flexible and I have worked out you can use any part of the road as long as (a) you get there first (b) you have a bigger vehichle (c) you let everyone know by beeping. Nominally, you drive on the right hand side of the road.
After lunch enroute at Bac Kan, we eventualy arrived at our homestay in a small village nestled alongside the end of Lake Ba Pe. the village consisted of about 30 houses, mostly wooden, on stilts with tile roofs. Our host was a retired Captain from 30 years+ in the Vietnames Army, who saw action in the American war in North and South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. He seemed friendly enough though!
[it seems like computers in Vietnam crash too - just lost some paragraphs...]
The house we stayed in had one large room that the family lived and cooked in and another large room where we ate and slept on small beds with mosquito nets, not that we saw many mosquitos. We were right beside the river, and despite the fact there has been flooding recently in Hanoi, the area here is quite dry. It is winter and nights were cool.
We stayed two nights here and each dinner were served a variety of lovely local dishes. Already we are remembering parts of our holiday by the food we ate. Apart from a few dishes the food has been great so far. Meat is mainly pork, but some chicken and beef. Lots of familiar and unfamiliar vegetables.
The village we stayed in is at one end of Ba Be lake, Vietnam's largest lake. It is also a National Park, so the lake is surrounded by thick rainforest type vegetation and steep limestone cliffs. Very beautiful. After our first night, we went for the day on a trip up the lake in a long covered boat. Our main object was at the other end of the lake, up a tributary river, to a place where the river went through a huge cave right through the mountain. Very impressive. We also visited a waterfall and a smaller natural lake used as a fish pond. We saw many beautiful butterflies.
After the second night we linked up with our munivan and drove to Cao Bang (next entry)
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