Our independence weekend adventures didn’t end in Thung Nai. It was only Saturday and we had all our camping equipment from Son TInh ready to go.
We headed away from the boat dock in Thung Nai back the same way we had come the day before, along the beautifully winding TL435.
Our destination was Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
Being so close, it was a no brainer returning to those incredible rice terraces and empty dirt roads. We’d tried out the homestays of Pu Luong and now wanted to nestle into the wild on our own, with our trusty red tent.
We made our way there via Mai Chau and couldn’t believe how close they were to one another. We’d been to Mai Chau twice and never ventured in. We grabbed supplies from here for the night: fresh duck eggs, tomatoes and a huge Banh Mi. Vietnam may not have the convenient convenience stores of Korea but it does have incredible fresh produce.
When you drive to Pu Luong, I’d recommend coming in from the Ho Chi Minh highway, then driving right through the park and leaving via Mai Chau. Or vice versa. Both ways are beautiful, especially the road right through the park that winds it’s way around the edge of the valley with unbeatable views. It would be a shame to miss out on either one.
After a full morning in Thung Nai and an afternoon of driving, it wasn’t long before the sun began to dip below the horizon. Luckily for us, just 15 minutes into the park we spotted a wide open space with a little path through the jungle behind.
We pulled in to check it out and found a gorgeous little bamboo forest with plenty of room to set up camp.
Turns out that bamboo forests are hot as hell and attract a worrying amount of mosquitos… It wasn’t the best nights camping we’ve ever had, but when our only desire was for somewhere ‘wild’ (and free) we couldn’t really complain.
And out there in the middle of the Nature Reserve, the night sky shone with stars.
The next morning we hustled to get out of the sweltering bamboo and back on the road. We used the roadside waterfalls to wash our faces and hands, and later our dirty dishes. The wonder of nature, hey?
We drove until we found the perfect view and cooked up a Shakshuka feast with those incredible duck eggs and the now stale bread. It was perfect. Is it crazy to say that we’d take any amount of uncomfortable nights for views like these all to ourselves?
Our night camping in Pu Luong was short, but sweet. We’re yet to find the best camping spot but I know it will be hard to resist returning to find one.
One last tip. When you see a man tending BBQ-ed duck on the side of the Ho Chi Minh highway, stop. You won’t regret it!