Day 2 at the Farmstay turned out differently than planned. I had booked the Paradise Cave Trek, which would be a 7km trek in the cave that I had seen yesterday, but someone cancelled. I was now alone and there was a minimum of 2 persons per tour. So I signed up for the next day and thought about what to do with this lovely day. It was hot and humid again, Vietnam showed its best side.
I started by bringing my laptop to the common area and updated the blog all morning (to later hear that I should use the spell check more often), but after lunch I decided to call it a day and jumped into the pool. It was so refreshing although the water was far from cool, but way better than the outside.
I also saw Veronica again who told me that the tour was on but that we would start a day later which meant an extra day for me at the Farmstay. She also told me that we would be a group of four. Sounded like fun to me, still had no idea exactly where we would be going. Not that it really mattered.
Then I got on a bicycle and went in search of the Pub with cold beer. The girls at the reception gave me a map, explained the way in detail (only turn left after you have passed the school; you have to go over a bridge and then turn right …) and I was on my way. Of course I got lost twice. I passed the school, turned left and wondered after 15 minutes why the road was not going anywhere. So I turned around and noticed I should have only gone a bit further, there was even a sign for the pub to turn left. Maybe the girls leave this part out so that there is a bit of a challenge for the tourists?
This would not have been necessary for me since I lost my way again. I had turned right before I crossed the bridge. And of course it was a downhill part and I had to push the bicycle up after. Did I mention that the bicycle had only one gear and that the kickstand always fell down? And that a good part of the way to the pub was uphill and I had to push the bike (and not just the involuntary detour part)?
Once I arrived at the pub I was hot and sweaty and needed this beer to refresh. I met two New Zealanders there, parked in a hammock and waiting for their chicken. One of them had killed the chicken before and they were waiting since two hours for it to be cooked. I quite like the idea of killing your own food, gives the whole thing a new perspective. But no way I would wait for two hours and then eat one chicken alone. It was already around 5pm and sunset in this area was maybe a good hour later. Since I missed this chance of killing my own food, I think I have to come back in the area.
So I just finished my beer (and it was cold as promised), hopped on my bicycle and started my way back. Which was astonishingly quick without the detours. I made it back before sunset.
The girls from the reception later told me that they had their doubts if I made it back. Thanks for this great show of confidence! I so like it that I proved them differently.
The next morning then I finally started with the Paradise Cave trek.
Again we entered the cave with all other tourists but at the end we climbed over a ladder to go down from the deck to the cave floor.
We were a group of 10 from all over the world. And our guide was a local who has worked in the caves since three years. The first thing he showed us were helictites (the stalactites grow also sideways). I had never even heard before that this was possible.
There are not a lot of pictures from this trek since it was too dark and we only had headlamps. But the cave was not one big continuing space but rather different sized chambers. Some of them as big as a football field.
One time he told us to switch of the lamp and walk in the dark. I saw the empty space ahead of me and knew I could walk at least two minutes straight and not hit anything. But when I walked in the dark I was afraid and pushed my arms out to the side not to run into anything. When we switched on the light I was far behind the group.
But there were other cool things to see and experience as well.
I like the group photo best, the iPhone camera is really made for pictures in the dark, haha.
On one stalagnate (that’s when a stalagmite and a stalactite have grown together) our guide played a short concert. To listen to it please click here!
The track became slippery and narrow, then sandy and soft again and eventually there was a river that needed to be crossed which we did by boat. Since the boat obviously had a leak this was repaired with a bit of mud.
Feeling all confident now, we got in. The sloppy repair work held, so the guys really knew what they were doing (we had two extra guides with us who spoke no English but were helping hands on the track).
Eventually there was the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. I couldn’t believe my eyes it just looked so amazing.
After being for hours in the dark cave with only the head lamps as light source the sunshine was such an miraculous sight. We sat down on a huge slab of rock and had our lunch here. The two extra guides had been carrying it all the way. And the best surprise after lunch was the small pool behind the rocks where we all went for a swim.
The way back was almost the same (same, same but different) because now we passed a shallow pool were cave pearls grew.
Another thing I didn’t even know existed, they looked beautiful and fragile.
After that it was just the same trek back, taking the boat again and getting wet feet while crawling a narrow path that was also low. And while I might be small, my backpack was big (what for I brought that exactly is a mystery to me now), so I constantly touched the ceiling and got unsteady).
But I and everyone else made it back in one piece and the trek was a wonderful experience.
When I came back to the Farmstay I went into the pool first and then stretched on the sun bed and relaxed. Just in time for sunset I was ready again to take some pictures.
So what to do with an unexpected extra day? Exactly, nothing! Since the Internet was not working properly for me on that day I just read my book, met Beth, a woman from Australia who initiated the bike trip, and later met Willemeijn, a Dutch girls. With her I spent the afternoon talking at the pool and had a great time.
Another beautiful sunset and then this day of doing nothing was over. Time flies when you are having fun. Yours, Pollybert