March 25 Wednesday -- a four and a half hour drive through the countryside from Saigon got us to Nam Cat Thien National Park. The night before I had realized that my iPad charger was still in Nha Trang. Luckily, the receptionist had one that worked. Our driver stopped for me to purchase a cable for $6. We didn't know what to expect at the park and were surprised when we stopped at what looked like one of many stands along the roadways but was actually the check in for our room. Our luggage was loaded on a boat and we were ferried across the Dong Nai River to the Cam Lai Lodge. It is definitely nothing fancy but has everything we needed for a one night stay. We ate lunch, rested for a while then met up with Tim our birder naturalist who led us through the trekking path and then down to the river. He pointed out a bar bellied pitta and a green-legged aka scaly breasted partridge among others.
We had dinner and then went for a safari type ride but didn't see much, just some deer and weasels. There are two restaurants in the park and we decided to try the Yellow Bamboo for a cold beer. It was served directly from their cooler room temperature. We requested ice to cool them down.
March 26 Thursday -- our last day in country started early with a trek to Crocodile Lake. Later we learned that neither Sam nor Tim thought we would make it all the way. It was grueling and we were exhausted when finished but we made it. I added 22 birds to my list. Tim was very excited every time he spotted and identified a new one. His spoken English was often difficult to grasp but he was able to write clearly. He dreams of going to Africa to see birds and beasts there.
We had to rush our lunch so we both could get showers before the four plus hour return through the rush hour traffic in Saigon and the airport to start the long journey home from Saigon. It ended up taking us 42 hours from bed to bed on the way home because of all the wait time we had in airports. The flights were uneventful in their boredom. We spent the night in Tampa and drove home the next day.
Working with Ms Hoa Pham (firstname.lastname@example.org www.vietprestigetravel.com) was a pleasure. She patiently made changes to the established itinerary, provided wonderful guides and drivers who accommodated all our issues with grace and a smile.