Butterflies, Tokkè's and motorbikes.
08.11.2010 - 11.11.2010 26 °C
11th of November??
From Cat Ba we went to Nimh Binh. Before, we checked internet to make sure it was worth leaving Paradise island 2 to get to Nimh Binh. The pictures looked amazing, so we decided to say goodbye to Paradise Island 2. In the early morning we had a bus ride to the harbour. From there, a speed boat took us to the mainland. The constrast was striking. Whereas on the side of the island were we arrived, the world renown Halong Bay is showing in all its splendid views. Now, we literally got the backdoor to get off the island. With a boat packed with motorbikes and bags, we went trough a dirty bay to get to the mainland. It was interesting though to see this contrast. After arrival, a bus picked us up to get to Nimh Binh. We drove trough a factory area and this place was really too depressing. Factories surrounded by big walls and watchtowers, like prisons. Dirt on the street and a lot of truck wheels for sale everywhere.
After a bit of a long ride, we arrived at Nimh Binh. At first, I was very dissapointed. The pictures showed a beautifull nature park, but we arrived in a depressing city full of motorbikes and smog. What a shock after Paradise Island 2. Amit and I went to a hotel and the manager was very friendly. He explained us everything to get to Nimh Binh. His slogan: we are here to make you smile. And yes, his service orientation was magical. He even told us that if we would leave now with motorbike, we would just make it before dark to the national park. Thus, actually losing us as customers for the night. We gathered information on motorbikes and were eager to get to the national park. But then, realised it was better to stay for the night. If something would happen with the motorbikes or we lose the directions, we would be in problems. So we went back to the hotel and checked in for the night.
We had some dinner and the games of famous chess continued.
There was a Belgium girl telling us that in the place where we were eating, she had some problems with the owner. Apparently there was bad service and the food was overpriced. We listened, but stayed here. She told us that in the restaurant next to it (2 metres from our seat) they had exactly the same menu and the prices were a lot cheaper.
The next morning we checked the other restaurant. Exactly the same menu, same setting and atmosphere and to our surprise, yes, prices were half of the restaurant of yesterday. What a joke
Time to go to the National Park. We both rented a motorbike. This time with gears. At first, I was a bit cautious, but quickly I managed to handle this kind of motorbike and we were on our way to the national park. At first, a lot of traffic was around us. But after leaving the main road, it quickly became more quiet. Also, the surroundings changed. More green and beautiful mountains. After about 1,5 hours, we reached the national park. It's interesting to know that before we left, we supplied ourselves with some essentials: a liter of extra gasoline, beer, fruit and cookies. At least we had some backup for if the park turned out to have not so much choice, or overprices stuff.
It was already afternoon when we arrived. We decided to check out the monkey sanctuary, turtle sanctuary and the botanical garden. All of this was really interesting. Especially the monkey sanctuary showed to be an interesting place. One monkey showing off his acrobatic skills by jumping trough the cage, using his arms, legs and great speed, agility and strength. A real showmaster. These monkeys, unfortunately, are taken from either people that keep them, or customs. Stupid Europeans or Americans (mostly) that pay money to have a monkey. Thus, making these animals extinct. Just a sidestep: when I entered Cambodia, at the border there was an advertising, saying: SOLD OUT...forever.
Every animal that you take from the wild will make it more likely that this species is going to be extinct. And when the reproduction is lower than the killings..guess what happens?
So, these monkeys are getting ready to be put back into the wild. Sometimes this works out, mostly they are going to an area next to the sanctuary. A kind of half-wild.
One poor monkey had one arm broken by people. But with his other arm and legs, he was still an acrobate. Applause to this monkey!
The turtle sanctuary told the same story. Most of them are extinct. A shell protects the turtle very well from attacks from predators. And this has saved them for millions of years (they were here even when the planet was ruled by dinosaurs). But, human don't try to open the shell to eat the turtle. No, they pick it up. Nature has no answer to this. Thus, most turtle species are almost extinct nowadays. Chinese think it's delicious for soup, or brings 'luck'. Right.. or rich people (Mostly fat ugly westerners..) pay a lot of money to show off that they have stolen a beautiful animal from nature and let it be killed to put for show in their expensive houses..
Talking about luck..cats get their tales broken by people, who think it brings luck. Yes, let's break your dick and see whether it brings luck. Well, the planet is the lucky one then. No dick, no children, no new generation, no future thread.
After the turtle place, that actually had guard/soup dogs, it was time to go to the botanic.
The botanic was not really a botanic as I expected; plants with their names shown. But it was beautiful nevertheless. It was an outdoor area surrounded by fences. Here and there a sign showed the Latin name of the plant or tree.
Afterwards, dinner time. The restaurant turned out to be very reasonable priced ( a meal for 40.000 dong-huh! Yes, but this represents 1,50 euro).
Time for some new famous chess games, a drink and time for a good sleep.
Door closed, windows closed, no malaria/dengue mosquito could enter my room. Amit was so unfortunate to have his window opened when we were away. He had to go on 'mosquito duty' first. Cleaning the room, making casualties, K.I.A's among the mosquitos. A massacre was the reminder of an ultimate mosquito cleaning drift of Amit. When the stars showed their face. The moon was well ahead and smiling down, and the crickets heavily brushing their feet...CRI...CKET....CHRI...CKET, we could finally sleep. The tokkè also had to join the party. But all in all it was a great sound! CRI....CKET. CRI..CKET. And the occasional. Wwawwwaawwwaawwwa.....tokkèèèèèèèè`......TOKKEEEE....TOKKEEEE wawwwaaawaaawaa TOKKEEEEEE. CRI..CKET..buzzzzzzzzz (the few mosquitos in my room).
But all together was a great experience. The room was in enormous contrast with Catba island, where for 5 US dollar, I had a hot shower, 2 huge and comfy beds, internet connection, television, and when I walked to the corridor, seaside view. Here, it was 7 dollar, for a wooden house with a mediocre bed, one table and..jungle sounds Ah..and a cold shower in a shared bathroom.
The next morning we explored the park on our motorbikes. After breakfast, we went up the hill. The view was amazing! The lushy green trees, rolling mountains and.. butterflies. Literally everywhere. We had quite some long stops to make beautifull pictures of the butterflies. Going uphill with the motorbike was very convenient. It turned out that if we wouldn't have come with motorbike, we would pay a lot to rent a bike or motorbike. During the trip, just a few people passed by. We were enjoying the beautiful nature and the amazing butterflies. Just after 3 pm we had a very good lunch and went for a hike. This hike brought us trough the stunning rainforest. Some pictures and an exhausting hike later, we ended up back in the restaurant. It slowly started to get dark. Time to get back. With some extra gas, the scooter conveniently touched 70km an hour at some points. There were almost no butterflies anymore. In the evening when we arrived back to our 'hut', the water was cold. And I had a cold also. Luckily an american couple with which we talked offered to use their shower, that was hot.
In the evening we had dinner with the American couple and played a game of chess. One of our last famous games of chess before leaving. After a beer and a bit of relaxation, it was time to sleep.
The next morning we had a good breakfast and got ready to go back to Nimh Binh city. The ride on the motorbike was stunning as always. The ride turned out to be a lot quicker back than expected. We had lunch (in the place that was the cheaper of the two) and Amit gave me some extra information on India. Also, he designed a travel itinerary for january, after Lud would leave.
Soon after, I got my back from the hotel and Amit brought me on the motorbike to the busstop. Immediately a bus was leaving, so I was lucky. Just before the bus left, I noticed a woman dragging a back with the head of a dog out. The dog was barking furiously. After, a guy put another back over the head of the poor dog. We all know what was going to happen here.
Then, the bus pulled off. Time for a 4 hour ride to Hanoi.
Upon arrival, I wanted to take a taxi to the airport, so I could stay near to the airport for the flight tomorrow morning. The taxi's were very expensive though. So I took a motorbike. This was a monstrous ride. With a 20 kg backpack, on the back of a motorbike. A perfect workout for the under back, the legs and the abs. Very inconvenient, and yes, a bit dangerous too. I was happy to arrive after one hour.
Time to get some food. The people in the restaurant served me with a lot of curiousity. Probably they don't serve a lot of foreigners, although it was in front of the airport. After the food, I was looking for a hotel. I knew that about 2 km away there were some hotels, so time to walk. 2 km turned out to be 4 km. And during the walk, I was looking at possible places to sleep in the night. Yes, in the wild. I was thinking I might get ripped off.
The first hotel indeed asked way too much for a night. But luckily the second gave me the price I wanted to pay. So I stayed the night here. Ready to wake up early in the morning and then have a 4 km, 40 min walk with 20 kg backpack to the airport.
So it happened. I got up and walked. After a walk of about 2 km a guy stopped and made clear he was no taxi (so a free ride). I was happy to get transported to the airport, where I waited for my flight to Bangkok.