Photos: Cuc Phuong Resort & Spa

Vietnam Heritage, November-December Advertorial 2011 — I pulled my luggage on a tree-lined gravel path, passing buffaloes placidly grazing on harvested paddy fields, farmers tending  vegetable gardens and lotus ponds blooming pink petals in mountain shades. Millions of golden pinto peanut flowers quivered from the jade-green carpet.
That was the beginnging of my wonderful vacation at the retreat of Cuc Phuong Resort, in Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh Province, near Hanoi. Newly built and just a walk away from Cuc Phuong National Park, the resort is an ideal choice of relaxation for those who love nature and tranquillity.
My lodging for the vacation was a bungalow gracefully hidden behind flowering bushes,  peacefully among golden flowers. The back looked on to a pinto peanut [a forage plant] garden, over which rose mallows flowered like lanterns. 
The materials the buildings were made of added to the feeling of rurality in a forested retreat. From the thatch roof to the folk Dong Ho painting on the wall, from the wooden wardrobe to the bamboo lampshades, all brought me closer to nature.
I soaked myself in warm mineral water in a delicate in-house wooden tub. The soothing sound of running water, the heat from the earth re-energized me after the two-hour car ride from Hanoi. Cuc Phuong resort has an ample mineral-water source 100 metres underground, used for bathing, therapy and recreation.
To enhance the relaxing experience, Cuc Phuong Resort & Spa provides mineral mud tubs, an outdoor swimming pool and an indoor hot-mineral-water pool with spray massage and two tennis courts in lush, romantic suroundings. The resort also has bicycles, boats, ping pong and billiards.
At Cuc Phuong Resort & Spa I experienced one of the most tranquil nights of my life. The only sounds I heard were the mountain breeze rustling the leaves of the trees, the songs of insects and the gurgles of the stream flowing through the boulders. No human noise.
When I opened my door the next morning, the sun sent in thousands of aureate rays, together with the pure warmth of the universe like a good wish for the day. The wind was playing like a bamboo wind chime on the lawn, producing joyful sounds. The mist had lifted off the ever-blooming pinto peanuts, and was now hanging over the nearby mountains.
At the centre of this ecological resort, my bungalow looked out on rock made a world of art, geology, and nature. Travelling through volcanoes, sediment or silt deposits, earthquakes and mudslides for millions of years, the igneous rocks, the sedimentary rocks and the fossilized wood gave a sense of natural familiarity.
From the 200-seat Dabiru restaurant, the view included a three-hole golf course, wave-shaped sand dunes, a rivulet, tropical flora growing all over, the misty limestone mountain ranges of the Cuc Phuong primeval forest and the 185-hectare Thuong Sung lake.
Serving Western and Vietnamese food, Cuc Phuong Resort & Spa includes Ninh Binh specialties. Mountain goat and meat of free-range pigs and chickens enhanced with a variety of forest vegetables and herbs make the natural and organic dishes even more eye-catching and mouthwatering.
At the Orchids Bar, next to a lake, I watched water lilies open their first purple petals, next to the Prehistoric Stone Garden which I have already mentioned.
From the reception hall, a receptionist walked over. The lap of her reddish ao dai flapped, mirroring itself in the water. Her high-heel shoes struck rhythmically on the sinuous brick path. In the absolute tranquillity of the green retreat, I found the clicking cheering and inspiring.n
Cuc Phuong Resort & Spa
Dong Tam village, Cuc Phuong,
Nho Quan, Ninh Binh
Tel / Fax:  030 3848888
Sales office in Hanoi:
Floor 1, Building A3, Hostel Thang Long, Com Vong street, Dich Vong Hau ward,
Cau Giay District, Ha Noi,
Tel / Fax: 04 62527979

By Cookie Vu