Ba Be National Park.

After a five-hour drive we arrived at ‘Ba Be National Park’. ‘Waze’ took us around the lake, along a narrow and bumpy road. We drove first to ‘Mr Linh’s Homestay’ as it was recommended in the guide-book. We looked at the rooms and asked the price which was $25 a night. This was a lot for a bed in a wooden house and a shared bathroom. So we decided to ride back to the row of homestay’s to see how much they were charging. After looking at four different homestay’s we decided to stay at ‘Viet Hung Guesthouse’. Here we had a double room with heating and en-suite for 250,000 Dong ($11) per night. We had dinner and then realised we needed to do some washing as we were running out of clothes! We went for a walk up the road to a small shop to see if they had washing powder. They only had a big bag but kindly they poured some in a bottle and then refused any money from us.  They asked us if we wanted to go on a five-hour boat ride tomorrow and showed us the price. It was only 600,000 Dong ($13) for both of us. Considering when we was at ‘Mr Linh’s Guesthouse’ we saw they were charging $30 per person for the same trip, we decided to book to go the following day. We agreed to meet at 9.30 am the next morning. We went back to our guesthouse, done our washing and headed to bed.

We woke up the next morning and went downstairs to get some breakfast. Our host said she could make us what we had for dinner the following evening, which was instant noodles and egg. We didn’t fancy that for breakfast so decided to take a walk up the road and stumbled upon a guesthouse and restaurant. Here they made us more of a breakfast and after we had eaten it was approaching 10am so we quickly hurried to the shop and apologised for being late. As our boat driver walked from the house we turned to him and saw a gigantic spider on his back! His wife managed to just hit it off his back with no fuss! We boarded the boat and went to our first destination, ‘Dau Dang Waterfall’

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After seeing amazing views of ‘Ba Be National Park’ from the lake we arrived at ‘Dau Dang Waterfall’. Here we got off the boat in a remote village and trekked 1km to the waterfall. We took a few pictures and then walked back to the village. When we arrived our boat driver was playing cards with the locals and he seemed to be having fun so we decided to get a couple of sweet potatoes cooked on the fire. Once our boat driver finished playing cards, we headed to our next destination ‘Puong Cave’. We got off the boat and went for a walk around the cave. The roof of the cave was extremely high up and all you could hear was bats flying about. To the other end of the cave there was a sandy area leading onto the river running through the cave. After about half an hour we walked back to the boat to travel onto our next location ‘An Ma Temple’.

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By this point on the boat it was getting quiet chilly. When we arrived at the temple to our luck there were people selling scarfs and other souvenirs. We bought a scarf and a lucky charm they sell at temples in Vietnam and headed up the stair to the temple. The temple itself was small but the views through the trees to the lake were lovely. When we was there, a couple were having their wedding photos done, which was quiet interesting to watch. The Vietnamese just love photo shoots and karaoke! After we had walked about the temple we headed on the boat to our last destination the ‘Fairy Ponds’. Not knowing what to expect, this destinations seemed to be the busiest with vendors. We walked up the steps to find a massive pond at the top. Unfortunately there was no fairy but you could hirer a bamboo raft if you wanted to look for around the lake. It was quiet green so we didn’t really fancy it incase we fell in, we opted to have a tea and coffee by the lake instead. After we had finished our drinks we headed back on the boat. On the way back we noticed boats were ferrying people from one side of the lake to the other. Remembering how bad the road was and that it took us half an hour, we asked our boat driver if he could take us the next morning as we were leaving, we organised to be there for 9am and agreed a price of 30,000 Dong for us and the motorbike! That evening we headed back to the homestay we had breakfast to have dinner, played a few games of cards and then packed our bags ready to leave in the morning.

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The next morning we were up and ready at the boat for 9am but hadn’t eaten yet, knowing we had an eight-hour journey ahead of us we just wanted to get going. We decided to get breakfast along the way. Luckily just outside of the entrance of the national park there was a hotel to the left, we pulled in and they made us egg and vegetable noodles. We ate it all up and had a tea, got the oil changed down the road and started our journey to Dong Van.

Tip: Look around at where you want to stay, most places are just a mattress on the floor, make sure you barter the price to as there is lots of competition.

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