– ODO- 18394-18476km
– Location- Phong Nha
– Weather- 23-28 cloudy
After four sunny days we hit the second tourist spot. The Phong Nha National Park was always a big point to reach on the map. We arrived just in time for the rain to start. We dropped the bikes, spread our dirty clothes out onto the crisp white sheets and headed into town for Veggiebox. Veggiebox was the first major vegetarian cafe we came across on the trip and it was a real treat. So much of a treat we spent every meal there over our day off.
For the day off we looked at the national park activities. Unlike Laos there wasn’t any hiking trails but caves were on the agenda like Trang An. The largest cave is over 36km long, claiming to be the longest cave in the world, and takes a week (and $3000 to trek through). We settled for the smaller Phoung Nha cave. Following Google maps for an hour walk in the driving rain we reached the National Park headquarters. A friendly employee told us that we needed to take a boat 5km back down the road.
As we set into the walk back the helpful employee turned up in his car to drive us in double time, horn blazing, to the boat station. We paid for a 12 person boat for just the two of us and set off. Here the boat had a chugging Diesel engine powering us through the rain around the village we’d walked through. We rounded the bend and our boat crew got our ticket stamped and we headed into the mouth of the cave. The roof opened up to a dome like the O2 of smooth granite. The engine was cut and died and the couple, our crew, jumped to the oars.
The cave was wide and deep with vertical walls and networks of fine stalactites reaching down between cracks with drips showing the rain was continuing outside. Each space lead into a longer, wider more dramatic space. The rock dropped into the black water. Lights ran along the walls illuminating the solid grey and the cream, red and green of the live rock. The spaces were so large thin mist clouds formed above the water. An ominous fear that power would go out sat in my stomach.