So I got to talking about Vietnam today, which led me to look on my SmugMug page to show some friends a few pictures. Then I realized I had a fair few waiting to be posted.
This photo shows the entrance of Phong Nha Cave. During the Vietnam (or American, depending on who you ask) War this cave was employed as a Viet Cong military base.
To get to this cave we first had to wander to the river bank in town where we found a number of Dragon Boats lined up waiting to give tours. They gestured that we needed to go to a ticket booth to pay. Once we were paid up we set up. Most people wait to group together to save money, the dragon boats can sit at least a dozen people. It was late in the day and we didn’t see anyone around so we got straight on.
Our drivers were an older couple who communicated to us entirely in gestures. You can see them in this previous post.
It’s about a half hour boat ride up the river, through the jungle covered Karst formations, past a fishing village and numerous water buffalo tied up on farmland along the banks.
Around a bend we came to the entrance to the cave, a low slit in the mountainside. The rocks above were scarred by artillery as the US army attempted to seal the cave. It’s amazing that the rock face held together.
Our boat ride continued inside, through narrow passageways and into large chambers full of stalagmites. When we reached the furthest point of our journey our pilots carefully turned the 30 foot long boat around in a space that only seemed 20 feet wide. They did this mostly by using their hands to push off the cave walls.
From there we were dropped on a beach inside the cave that served as a landing point for injured Viet Cong soldiers. We walked back out through the rock formations. Just before walking back outside to board our waiting boat I stopped to take this picture.