Dat called early Sunday morning to say the trip was on ! He was feeling much better, as the medicine was successful. He & the driver would be to the hotel in an hour for the 1 hour drive drive to the sea level entrance to Bach Ma National Park. Once into the park we drove along a narrow very curvy uphill road about 10km. The driver let Lidia, Dat & I out and we walked along the road till reaching the driver parked in a lay-by where other vehicles could safely pass around he & the car. Along our walk we began teaching Dat about bird watching. Although he had worked as a park guide for 5+ years he was more familiar with the flora and insects, reptiles, & mammals. We would occasionally share our binoculars with him, and he was stunned at the detail he could now see - the amazed pleasure in his eyes was priceless to witness. Back in the car we drove to our 'hotel' for that night. It is an early 20th century villa built by a French family as a mountain retreat from the lowlands heat. Our sleeping quarters were in a building a couple hundred meters from the kitchen/dining building. After checking in we set off on a 3 hour hike into the woods, and to the tallest (100m) waterfall in Vietnam; Rhododendron Falls. The height of the Falls is not easily perceived from our 'perch' at the top. NO WAY I was getting ANYWHERE Near the edge; shear drop 1,000 ft., and erratically, strong wind gusts. When a large tourist group arrived Dat suggested we take an alternative trail back to the Villa; a bit longer & difficult, but rarely used, especially by tour groups. It was not that difficult, and better yet we hiked virtually alone thru the mountain forest; peaceful and Dat continuously pointing out plants, scorpion nests, spider webs and tree frogs (2" long nestled & adroitly camouflaged) we would otherwise never have perceived. We reciprocated by teaching him about birding, though he usually spotted them first !
Back to the lodging, shower, change, and to dinner. Very tasty, & plentiful, meal with a good Dalat red wine, compliments of the Travel Agency; a combination of Cardinal grape varietal & Mulberry fruit. We tried to get a view of an owl that evening but to no avail; heard repeatedly from less than 20ft, but never to be seen.
Next morning a walk to the summit at Bach Ma Park. 06:00 start before the tourist traffic starts at 08:00. Hiked past the helicopter 'pad zone' used by USA during Vietnam War. The views from the 1450m summit were slightly fog misted but still impressive. Surrounded by a few thousands of acres of pristine mountain forest descending eastward to the ocean. AND Dat brought along a thermos jug of tasty, and greatly enjoyed, Vietnamese coffee. Great way to start the day ! Thanks Dat.
Back to the lodge for breakfast, and then departure for the road trip over the Hai Van Pass thru Danang to Hoi An; the drive is considered one of the most picturesque in Vietnam, and hence a reason for our determination to do this journey that Dat had recommended.
Ciao for now
p.s. added the photo of the Silvered Tailed Pheasant even though the sighting occurred 2 minutes after leaving the lodge in the morning - another 'Lifer' for Lidia !
Ciao for now