13th Mar 2017
Cat Tien National Park
My bus pick up to Cat Tien National Park was at 9.20am so I had a fairly easy morning, packing my bag and having a leisurely breakfast. The pick up was on time for once, and it gave quite a nice tour of some of the streets of Da Lat that I hadn’t managed to see. My bus turned out to be a very local bus company, but the nicest sleeper bus that i have actually been on and they even gave us all a bottle of water and hand wipes for the journey. Of course, I couldn’t understand any of the announcements but as before that didn’t cause a problem as there were enough locals around who were anxious to make sure I was alright.
The journey took just over four hours, including a lunch stop. I tried some street food, which I think was a rice jelly with beef mince, but I wouldn’t like to swear to it. It was tasty which is all that really matters. There was also a stall selling fresh pineapple which rounded it off nicely.
The bus conductor came to notify me five minutes before my stop, as the bus continues to Ho Chi Minh City. There isn’t a bus direct to Cat Tien National Park, so I needed to find alternative transport for the final 24Km, but the conductor helped me and within 30 seconds I had a xe om ready to take me and at the going rate too. I’d been prepared to haggle the white persons tax, but it wasn’t even necessary, possibly because the conductor had helped me.
I hopped on to the back of the motorbike taxi and we were soon whizzing down a small road on our way to Cat Tien, past fields and small houses. The road was pot holed and bumpy, but quite good fun, and soon joined a bigger road for the final stretch. My driver dropped me at the National Park ticket office, where I purchased my ticket, helped the lady at the desk with a couple of English pronunciations (her request!) and then she called the ferry and showed me the way to the river crossing. A jeep pickup was ready to meet me on the opposite bank, which travelled about 200 metres to the information centre and reception for my hotel, before taking me a further 200 metres to my room. It felt quite luxurious not having to carry anything, having been walking around with my bag on my back for so many days, but also slightly over the top for such a short distance. I wasn’t complaining!
When I got into my room I fell asleep for a couple of hours, I was so tired. I think the combination of bus journeys and places I’ve seen in a short period of time since I left Phong Nha caught up with me a little bit. I woke with daylight to spare though, and took the chance to go for a walk down some of the tracks before it got dark. I’d also noticed some information about a night safari, so on my way back I stopped to enquire about it. I’d timed it right, it was due to leave in ten minutes so I paid for a spot and hopped on the jeep. I’ve been on more successful night safaris, but we did see a civet cat climbing a tree, and a weasel which looked like an overgrown fat stripy cat as it scurried away into the bushes. We also saw at least a dozen samba deer. The novelty of seeing deer at night has worn off on me somewhat as generally they are also fairly easy to see during the day, but they do add some interest and they are nice to see. I was more happy to have seen the civet cat and the weasel though!
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