Phong Nha

Last night we arrived quite late at our farm stay in the middle of the jungle. For this expedition, we are joined by a Taiwanese family and a quiet young Englishman

When I got up this morning I had the worst cold ever. But at this point all I know is that we’re hiking and caving not much more than that. Sometime I prefer not knowing too much and just be surprised!

Well let me tell you that when you set out for this kind of expedition you want to be strong and healthy..

I forgot my drying cold medication so once we get into our transport I asked the driver using the translator app if he could stop at a pharmacy. We stop in this very tiny town on the way to the training center. He point me to the pharmacy and of course no one speaks English. I pull out my translator and after a half hour I get herbal pills and some kind of an inhaler.

We get to the training center to get synopsis of what we’re embarking on. We need to wear light canvas army boots, we all get light long sleeve green tee shirt and no matter what the weather is, we must remain covered from neck to toe so we’re NOT subject to leaches or thorns or poison ivy we’ll come in contact with! Isn’t it wonderful !!!

The porter will carry most of our stuff and we are given a rain proof backpack which already had a Whole bunch of wholes to carry the strict necessary and a liter of water .

We started our walk on a beautiful farm road near the river.

We crossed that river all dressed, Then we started

A descent inside a cave in the mountainous rainforest,

I pretty much lagged behind as I had great difficulty breathing and my nose was dripping like a waterfall!

We climbed over tall boulders, walked

on narrow wooden bridge where if you missed a step you’d fall into a precipice. Dexterity, decent physics strength , great knees and no fear of heights are physical attributes you must possess for this type of expedition

After walking into one of the cave we had lunch near a river..

after lunch I got worst and my backpack seemed really heavy because the climb was much steeper. At this point my meditative state kicked in to get me physically through this ” tour de force”, two guides Hui and Long stayed with me , carried my backpack and shadowed me all the way up which took 4 hours. I felt extremely blessed to have them. I don’t know how I would have made it otherwise!

We finally got to camp eat at the top of the mountain. Which was located on a river , neAr a breathtaking cave next to a waterfall.

As sick as I was we went swimming near the waterfall. The young Englishmen climbed up near the waterfall and jumped .

Of course Cat and I followed suit!

Here we are sitting on a rock with Anette our guide who will be with us for the next 3 days; she’s knowledgeable, witty and full of stories!

All of a sudden I felt better!

The porters prepared for us an awesome meal, we were all in our tents by 9.30- slept to the sound of the waterfall

The next morning we are ready to visit the cave and swim in it

fThe cave entrance

Standing way up higher inside the first cave.

After swimming in the cave we climb all wet, way up high and sat in front of this huge stalagmite but for some reason it wasn’t cold!

The shape of these stalactites reminds me of dancers, the ceiling of this cave was so naturally ornate that it’s like looking at nature’s Sistine chapel! During our 3 days we will encounter very few people but our group and porters.

We also climbed tall ladders to other caves

We will only hear the sounds of nature. There’s definitely no way to communicate with the outside world, it’s a wonderful way to disconnect!

We swim inside a cave come out at the

other end, walk in the jungle to another cave – some caves were dry

With extremely narrow passages

Other caves were truly scary to navigate in that you had to climb slippery boulders

You had to slither in between huge stalagmites

Or crouch downward through a tiny whole

And I’m wondering how some people who are rather large might fit into these very tiny spaces.

Dinner was always delightful in that we sat there and found out more about each other. Annette was recounting how in her Cambodian ethnic tribe women are in charge; which quite different than most ethnic tribes I’ve encountered

We were extremely fortunate that it did not rain during that time, it literally started to rain when we were done on the third day

The last cave was beautiful and filled with crystals

We exited the last cave with a magnificent view of the valley,

we slowly made our way down and walked back to the training center where we started from.

Skinny cows on the way back.

Our group with Annette and the main porters.

We couldn’t wait to get into the showers after 3 days of mud and sweat.

We then returned to our beautiful farm stay in the jungle for an herbal sauna and toasting our accomplishment, being truly grateful that we all came back unscathed.

5 thoughts on “Phong Nha

  1. Beautiful leg of your trip. I will repeat myself but you are loca ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ wow what physical shape you are in. Now or even after my transplant I could not go in the Asian part of the world. Not recommended. So thanks for letting us travel with you. Mario also says thanks as well as Tony as I forward your emails to him.

    The caves are beautiful. I’m clostophobe so would never go past the first one.

    You will need rest when you get back. Take care


  2. Celia Wow, wow and more wow, I am so sorry you got sick…poor baby!! Are these the cave you discussed with me or
    are they still yet to come, I’m confused? It seems like this trip was was the most arduous yet! Thank God you got through it. It could not have been easy fighting a cold in the water and cave environments. You will never forget this experience!!!!
    Please let me know how you’re feeling now? Feel Better soon…


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