Post # 64 Cuc Phuong

Day 76 1004 days to go. Distance today 37km total 4430km. Its 7.15pm Tuesday 14/2/2012 Cuc Phuong National Park. My partner and I aren’t into Valentine’s Day so much but for those who celebrate the love I hope you shared it with a loved one. We reckon everyday is valentines day and rightly so hey Darling xo. Day 2 with a little education and lots of cool adventure yay. I woke again to the gibbons going off love that sound it’s such a distinct call. It wouldn’t be hard to work with these crazy swinging singing critters that’s for sure. Breaky in bed then up to check out the Information Centre for what I could find out about the Park in particular the caves before heading out to explore them some more. From what I read Limestone forms on top of sea beds and Karst mountains are formed when colliding Earth’s plates push the limestone up into peaks. As such it’s a common phenomenon to find marine fossils in the rock formations. Rain penetrates the rocky terrain and over time dissolves the limestone creating caves and underground streams that continue to erode to a network of caverns and water supply. The water escapes in springs and a major source for the local tribe people for agriculture, power and domestic use. Ancient people lived in these caves dating back 12000 years ago. One of the caves I visited was excavated in 1966 where artifacts such as stone axes, bone spears, oyster shell knives, pestles and tombs were removed. It seams the people lived and buried their dead in the caves in rituals according to primitive religious beliefs. All very interesting. The information centre was full of cool stuff allot about conservation. Many of the 50 000 people that live in or about the park are dependent on natural resources for their survival. At the same time exploitation of wildlife and forest products such as timber and firewood for selling in local and regional markets seriously threaten the park. Law enforcement by park rangers has traditionally been the means to reduce the problem however in recent years there has been a more progressive conservation strategy implemented that better respects tribe folk and their traditions. The strategy also uses education, economic alternatives, and biological monitoring. For example home stays with the Muong people are amongst the experiences offered by the park with the money going direct to the community and bee farming is practiced in villages to supplement incomes. Research continues to monitor the health of the forests. Did you know the amount of butterfly species reflects the forest’s health. Research has identified nearly 300 species of butterflies native to Cuc Phuong. How cool and exciting is that? As a regular ‘butterflyer’ of sorts I have a huge soft spot for them. I saw heaps in the tree canopy from the observation tower yesterday. My partner and I were climbing partners before dating and I have this vivid memory of us watching butterflies on top of Frog Buttress in Beaudesert,Qld. I don’t want to bore you with too many facts but promising stuff for the future of this beautiful area. So I headed off with a bit more local knowledge and head torch on board to hit the caves. It’s a bit unnerving to step into a dark expanse just you and your head torch. I was a bit frighties but braved it and loved it once I got a sniff of adventure. The caves were amazing. The first one was where they have excavated signs of ancient folk from 12000 years ago. Incredible!!! There was a ladder that took you up to a higher level. When the light hit the rock I thought it was ‘fools gold’ with the glimmering effect. But when you got up close it was actually water droplets coming out of the rock. The droplets sparkled like diamonds. It was breathtaking. I sat there for ages digesting the delish factor. There was a solo bat swooping about the ceiling and my head. That’s another sound I love!! The cave continued for about 50 meters with lots of nooks and rock formations to explore and take pictures. The camera worked well just off the light from torch. I came across a rock spider who posed her eight sets of smile lines for the camera šŸ™‚ I returned to the cave entrance and enjoyed a coffee and some more poetry writing which I’ve added to the post. The entrance is now a shrine with incense, fruit and flower offerings laid. The next cave had a more remote feeling if that’s the word. No shrines just a jagged rocky opening that you stepped into a bit like an abyss. It was a weird feeling and more unnerving than the other. It went deeper for about 100m and again once I settled it was really exciting to explore. The photos are cool but they don’t capture the size of the cave halls. It’s incredible to squeeze through an opening and into a cathedral of cave formations and layered terraces. Minerals have leached to stain the rock in places and the colors are earthy and unique. The silence inside the caves is deafening. It’s bizarre to hear absolutely nothing just drops of water which amplifies in the large cave halls. When you walk on rock my footsteps resonated and made a hollow sounding echo. Near the entrance there was a chunk of rock embedded in the wall with seashell fossils. They came up well on the photo. I’m very glad I decided to take the extra day. I have never experienced something like this before and it was thrilling. What an exceptionally cool way to christen the head torch. It was still cloudy today but lifted a little so I got some more pickies of the landscape and forest. Walking out of the last cave I came across a ‘sinkhole’ which I read about in the info centre. Off track you have to be very wary and careful of these ground openings that drop into underground chasms. These more remote walks are only allowed with guides and I can see why. Staying on the well trodden path there’s no danger of course and this one was just off to one side. I got back again to camp on dusk and did some sorting of my stuff to head in the morning. I’ve had such a great couple of days. It’s been relaxing with very cool and new stuff to check out. It’s exciting for Vietnam, the environment and it’s critters, to have such a successful program happening here and setting the standard for more conservation programs. Very positive stuff I love it!!! Thank you Cuc Phuong. It’s been a treat and a pleasure. Talk soon x

Come play in my cave
My home and grave
Where I played
10 centuries ago.

We had a fine home
With tools of stone
Where I worked
10 centuries ago

We buried our dead
In caves overhead
When I died
10 centuries ago

I still watch over
Come see traveler
Where I live
10 centuries on.

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About shecyclesolo

If you could dream up the most wildest adventure imaginable what would it be? Between jobs and craving new experience, I decided to indulge the challenge. This is what I conjoured with a promise to come home safe and smiling. I hope you enjoy the 1080 days of stories as much as I will sharing them. "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.' H D Thoreau

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