Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vietnam 2014 – Day 17 – The Cat Ba National Park

I spent the morning walking under the canopy of Cat Ba National Park. The park only has a limited paths, all asphalted or with stone stair steps, which were inherited from old village paths when the area was declared a national park. At the very start of the walk I realized I had not brought a hat. No problem. I sighted a discarded sack of concrete and with the help of my trusty pocket knife I soon fixed for myself a mason hat (the type that looks like a pointed boat, which my dad used to make for us when we were camping as little kids). With that and a stick I tackled the mountain, eventually making a grand total of about 15 km.
There were a couple of high points from where I could take a look at the landscape, but most of the walk was through pretty tight equatorial jungle. My thoughts soon wandered into wondering if I would be able to survive in such a jungle. A knife would be the first tool needed, for which the best I could come up with would be the serrated edge of a limestone. One would also need to find water, which in limestone terrain is easier said than done. The trick, I believe, would be to get to a low point and dig a hole. You would also need some sort of vessel to collect water, for which the pliable bark of some trees I saw would be a good way to start (I have seen this done, so it would be a matter of trying to recall the details). Alternatively I could try to find some clay and try my hand at some pottery making. What about fire? There were some thin vines that could be used to make a fire bow, and from there it should be possible to start a fire (note to self: make the test once I get home). Shelter could easily be arranged with the abundance of broad-leaf plants around me, and the vines could be used to tie a roof together.
Food would be the largest challenge. I couldn’t see any fruits, and being winter there were no berries on sight (and after the Hunger Games I wouldn’t trust any berries anyway). A spear and an atlatl would be easy to craft, but I didn’t see any likely targets. If I could catch something big, like a deer or a pig, then the stomach would make a useful water container, and the gut would provide the string for a bow. Realistically, my best bet would be to go after birds, so it would be useful to know how to make a snare (note to self: try this at home first). Ah, all this beautiful theory, but I suspect life as a Robinson would be anything but easy.
Back to my trusty motorcycle I completed the exploration of the island, which had plenty of scenic surprises in store to hold my interest. I came back to the town of Cat Ba around 4 pm, in time to have an excellent meal (giant clams cooked in butter and garlic, and a delicious veggie spring roll), and to snap a few pictures of the spectacular sunset. All in all a very satisfying day.

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