By the second day of my stay in Phong Nha, I figured it was time to be proactive. I ventured downstairs for the daily talk the hostel held about the caves within the National Park. By the end of the talk, I was feeling motivated to explore! Yet, by the end of the day, I was still roaming around the hostel having only given my bike a wash, planned a little more of my bike ride across Vietnam… And little else…
Day three rolled around, and I decided to listen in to the talk again – there’s a lot of stuff happening and things to see around Phong Nha, and the caves were a puzzle of names inside my head.
Fortunately, I was feeling a little more inspired that morning, and I attached myself to a bunch of intrepid explorers who were looking at getting a boat out to the Phong Nha Cave.
Later that morning, we grabbed our bags and ventured out into the streets of Phong Nha (a place I essentially didn’t know given my two lazy days). Somehow, I ended up at the front of the pack – the intrepid leader! Unfortunately for my fellow explorers, I lacked the knowledge of the location of our destination…
Fear not though, as eventually we made it. We paid our fees and crammed all 13 of our Western sized bodies onto a boat designed for 14 Vietnamese, and set off, uncomfortably, for the picturesque ride down the river to the Phong Nha Cave.
The entrance to the the Phong Nha Cave sits on the Sông Con River, with the cave stretching back about 45km into the national park. Unfortunately, the little boat ride only takes you in to see about 1,500 metres of it. Then again, perhaps this was rather fortunate given the limited space between our bodies?
If Phong Nha is the first cave you see (as it was for me), things look pretty impressive inside, but ultimately, lack the “wow” of the Paradise Cave.
What I love about this one though, is the interesting history the cave has.
Back during the Vietnam War, Americans would incessantly bomb this area as they sought to destroy the supply channels from the north to the south (referred to as the Ho Chi Minh Trail). Given the destruction of all bridges, by day it appeared that there was no access from one side of the river to the other. At night however, it was discovered that a floating bridge was being used. This bridge, however, would disappear each day.
Eventually, the Americans realised that this floating bridge was being kept in the Phong Nha Cave. Missions to destroy the bridge ensued, with many planes destroyed and lives lost as pilots took on the difficult task of getting their bombs inside. I believe it was just a single bomb that eventually made it in, with limited effects. The image of the entrance below show you just how difficult their missions were with a small entrance and a cliff sitting just above it making getaways difficult.
Inside, the cave is still pretty interesting. It’s another huge one of the area, and that makes it a good one to see. Ultimately though, if you only have time for one cave, make it Paradise Cave.
Read More at: Vietnam Travel
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