I’m not sure how confident I could be with using these stairs to enter and exit my front door on a daily basis.
Getting to this rather creepy door was an adventure in itself. I’ve told you about the 8 hour boat ride, with no food, we were tricked into to reach the island. To get to this spot, we needed to rent a motorbike. It wasn’t long before we realized that our singular mode of transport was running on fumes, but we’d been assured that there was a gas station on the way out of town. We set off, focused on the right side of the road where the gas station was promised. This resulted in a traumatic moment for my pillion passenger who suddenly gasped. She’d had just laid eyes on a dog being butchered, at the market, by the side of the road. Taken aback by this discovery, our concentration on fuel diminished and soon signs of civilization were beginning to die out.
At this point, we decided we’d be better off running out of gas in the town than in the jungle so we turned back. At this point, we found the gas station quickly, on the opposite side of the street from where we were told it would be. Once we were fueled up, we set off into the wilderness and before we knew it, we had spotted the entrance to the cave that housed the Vietnam War era military hospital used by the Viet Cong.
Across the street was an attentive attendant prepared to charge us for using their parking lot. He was a short stout older man, wearing an old military style jacket. After experience visiting the Mausoleums outside Hue, we were expecting an aggressive pushy greeting. Instead, we were greeted with a smile and a laugh as he asked if we were going to visit the cave. We said yes and he told us we could either pay for parking or come in for a coffee and park for free. This was perfect as I had already spotted the opportunity for delicious Vietnamese Coffee and was going to sit down anyway. We drank our coffee and the same man came over to say we should go up to the cave as a tour-guide was going up and they would turn on the lights. He wanted us to get the chance to see it in the dark, and then get to see it with the lights on.
So, there we were, standing at this creepy metal door, peering into the darkness. We stepped in and waited for a moment for our eyes to adjust. They didn’t, but we pressed on anyway. Soon enough the lights came on, but it was still a pretty creepy place. If you come back tomorrow you can see what it looks like on the inside.
I processed this photo over a year ago but hadn’t posted it because I had no idea what this building with the impressive door was. I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes trying to find it on google street view and can confirm that this is the Palacio de San Telmo. It turns out it’s the seat of Andalusian Autonomous Government and it was originally built as a seminary school for the orphaned children of sailors.