One of the most beautiful parts of travelling is the unexpected: that route you take by mistake which uncovers a gem you would not have seen otherwise, the fellow traveller you meet on the way who gives you some amazing tips, swaying from your travel guide and talking to the locals and living that real, authentic experience. There are so many ways it can happen, but I do often find that my favourite parts of my trips are the less planned, unexpected ones.
Travelling for two whole months gave us a luxury we don’t often have: time. It meant not having to rush around like headless chickens and not having such a rigid itinerary. Our itinerary was in fact so flexible that we mostly planned day by day; all we had booked were the flights from one country to another as we didn’t want to pay a bomb, but once we reached the destination, we left it all very open so we could adapt as we went.
I have a few clear highlights from our trip and one of them, without a doubt was the day we spent in the Cuc Phuong National Park. We rented a scooter in Ninh Binh and embarked on the 2.5 hour long journey to the park. Let me tell you, as much as I love riding on a scooter, the air flowing through your hair and the sun kissing your arms and thighs, being on one for more than an hour is agony! About 15 minutes into the park, we started to notice swarms of butterflies – white, orange, purple.. Suddenly, they were fluttering all around us as we drove through the rain forest. It was magical. Like being in a parallel universe.
We parked close to the entrance to a cave, but we soon noticed that the real attraction was the rainforest itself and these beautiful inhabitants. I felt like a Disney Princess – everywhere I walked I was followed and surrounded by butterflies, it was amazing. I still remember the feeling of joy and awe, I’d never seen anything like it. The whole experience was surreal and I loved everything about it, from riding on the back of the scooter soaking it all in, seeing butterflies everywhere, hearing the sounds of the jungle and being surrounded by nature. The whole experience was so unexpectedly perfect. Some Asian gentlemen even randomly offered to do a photoshoot of us!