Inside Dinh Tien Hoang temple
Got up just before 7am and washed my hair before heading to breakfast, which was quite good; fruit, bread and cream cheese, and a mango shake. Left the hotel at 8:15am headed for Cuc Phuong National Park. Last night was the first time it's rained since we've been here. Our first stop was Hoa Lu, which was the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh (968-980AD) and early Le (980-1009AD) dynasties. It used to cover three square kilometres but has now been mostly destroyed, though still has the spectacular scenery of Yen Ngua Mountain as its back-drop. There are just two surviving temples and we visited one of them: Dinh Tien Hoang, restored in the 17th century and dedicated to the Dinh dynasty. Inside the main temple are bronze bells and a statue of the emperor with his three sons.
Our driver took a super short cut so we arrived in Cuc Phuong NP much earlier than anticipated. The park was established in 1962 and has 222 square kilometres of primary tropical forest. Our first visit was to the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, home to over 140 animals from 15 species of gibbon, langur and loris. The gibbon is long-armed and eats fruit, the langur is short-tailed and lives in trees, and the loris is small, nocturnal and has large eyes. All the centre's animals were either bred there or rescued from cages or illegal traders. There were 3 babies there too, ranging from 1-10 months old, so clearly the breeding program is quite successful. Very cute. After the primate centre we had lunch (80,000D) which was quite nice - steamed rice, beef with veggies, tofu + tomatoes, fried veggie spring rolls, omelette - then had a nap for a few hours.
Endangered Primate Rescue Centre
Y woke us up by knocking at the door - I thought we were meeting at 2:30pm not 2, whoops! We went on a few hikes then, one about 1.5 hours to an ancient tree. We didn't see any animals but saw many beautiful butterflies of varied size, shape and colour. The tree was pretty impressive when we finally got to it too. Our next walk, though MUCH shorter, was MUCH steeper, as the first walk had been largely flat. This was up a 220-step stairway to the Cave of Prehistoric Man, where human graves and tools have been found dating back 7500 years. The cave was super dark and our 2 little torches did little to lighten the gloom. The cave seemed to go on for ages but we only explored the first little bit of it for fear of getting lost inside. Headed back then, had a little picnic with our supermarket wares, then showered before having a pretty basic dinner at 6:30pm.