Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Vietnam Day 3 - Crocodile Lake

Today's the big one folks! The adventure to Crocodile Lake! The lair of the endangered Siamese crocodile. Oh what a blessing it would be to catch a glimpse of this rare and elusive animal! But I'll be honest with ya, my chances are slim, because I've got one boat dock and maybe a tall hill to look from, over the vastness of an entire lake full of lillies and chest high grasses, but I'll make the intrepid effort anyways because I like nature.

So I rent a bike from the national park HQ and cruise the 12km up to the trail head. Though I did see a mother Douc (a type of monkey) and her two babies fairly close on my ride, I didn't see much else. I attempted to add variety to the day by visiting the "batt caves" and the "thousand trunk tree" on my way. But to my dismay, these places don't exist, or better yet, maybe the trails to these places having been marked yet.

But the trail to crocodile lake is indeed marked and looks nice with the concrete and boulder path they are making for it. I take my time to walk the length of the trial. It's another 5km, so I take a lot of time. More so because I have nothing else to do and I believe there is a better chance to see crocs closer to sun down.

Along the trail I see plenty of skinks, and even a few forest dragons. I can hear monkeys crashing through the trees around me, but I rarely see them because of the dense foliage. Then, on a rock right next to the trail I see what I first think is just another skink, no, this has no legs! Yes!!!! My first Vietnam snake! It seems to be a lance head viper of some sort (I would later find that it was just a mock viper, which is a harmless natricid snake) But for the moment this little gem is the most exciting thing is the forest! After a few choice pictures I begin down the trail again, only to find another mock viper! What awesome luck today!

At Crocodile Lake, my time is sent resting and scouring the land and lake-scape for the elusive croc. Would it surprise you if I said I didn't see any crocs? But I did see . . . more skinks! I knew, that's not a huge surprise either because they are everywhere. But as I head back, darkness doesn't seem to come as I think it should. I get back to my bike excepting full darkness, yet it is still light. But, after a few km through the bike ride, the switch is cut, and darkness covers the jungle like the thick amount of peanut butter that covers my morning toast.

This makes the frogs start calling, and golly they are out tonight! In no short time, I begin to worry when the ferry to get back across the river stops. So as I ride back, I struggle with the urge to take pictures and find new frogs against the prospect of missing the last ferry, and in the last 10 minutes of my bike ride, I believe I cataloged 6 new frogs into my personal frog list! Plus, I made it to the ferry with plenty of time.