Two tickets to Paradise


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Published: April 12th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Phong Nha ParkPhong Nha ParkPhong Nha Park

Boat seen through Phong Nha Cave
Sometimes in life you just do things and you really don't really think too much. One fine example for this kind of seemingly unreasonable behavior is my trip to Phong Nha Ke Bang, a national park in the center of Vietnam.

Well, thinking a little bit harder, actually I heared some time ago that the newly discovered 'Paradise Cave' in the above mentioned park will be in the top 10 attraction of the new Vietnam Lonely Planet, while for now it is still relatively unknown in the backpacker crowd..

In a very impulsive attempt to anticipate the tanktop and baggy-pants crowd I called my friend Greg and proposed a weekend trip to the park and the worlds' biggest cave. Now, the first thing to consider is that Vietnam creates a huge gap between theory and practice.

While the cave should be roughly at a 200km distance from Hue, a seemingly easy trip can turn into an odissey.. and the context of Vietnam makes things even more complicated. While being fined (bribed) for the first time for a speeding ticket, the way going to the caves was relatively uncomplicated and easy. The first day we went to the Paradise
Phong Nha CavePhong Nha CavePhong Nha Cave

Technology in the middle-ages
Cave, which is located in the middle of a dreamlike carst-landscape far away from anything. Well, check my photographs... it definitely lives up to its reputation and I just hope mass tourism will not turn it into another Vietnamese Disneyland.

After a night spent in Dong Hoi (the provincial capital) and a morning visiting the Phong Nha cave, the real problems started... My scooter was making a weird sound and I got it fixed in the city... Small incident you might say... but reality was far from that.

Following the Ho Chi Minh highway, which lead through the middle of nowhere (and i mean NOWHERE) the noise came back and this time much stronger.. I had to stop in a village which I didnt think would still exist in Vietnam. Simple houses, no roads, poverty and something like a medieval life-style... I got my bike emergency fixed again in a backyard and was ready to go south once again...

Third problem, the noise came back and my front brake stopped working... and guess what? When I stopped in another village they told me my bike was just fine! So going home through the jungle, no break, a
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Finally, Phong Nha Park in sight
noisy front wheel and fear of running out of gas... If all this was not enough, the sunset and sudden heavy rain made our travel a fight for survival more than anything else!!!

What is really strange about it... When I came back I loved what I have done and I would do it again!! What is wrong with me people? :)


Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 23


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Paradise CaveParadise Cave
Paradise Cave

A closer look
Paradise CaveParadise Cave
Paradise Cave

The biggest known cave on earth
The road to Quang BinhThe road to Quang Binh
The road to Quang Binh

The long dusty road up North
Speeding ticketSpeeding ticket
Speeding ticket

Bargained from 300.000 to 50.000 Dong...
Road gearRoad gear
Road gear

In full travel gear
Phong Nha ParkPhong Nha Park
Phong Nha Park

The entrance to Phong Nha Park
Paradise CaveParadise Cave
Paradise Cave

Greg climbing the stairway to Paradise
Paradise CaveParadise Cave
Paradise Cave

Some more paradise
Paradise CaveParadise Cave
Paradise Cave

The cave is supposed to be 55km long
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Paradise Cave

Quang Binh countryside
Paradise CaveParadise Cave
Paradise Cave

Greg in the wilderness
Dong HoiDong Hoi
Dong Hoi

The haunting remains of a catholic church
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Phong Nha Cave

Domestic tourists
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Phong Nha Cave

The ferryman
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Phong Nha Cave

Beginning of a 1 hour boatride to the cave
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Phong Nha Cave

Contemplating..
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Phong Nha Cave

Some more Quang Binh landscape
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Phong Nha Cave

Our captain...
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Phong Nha Cave

Almost there guys!
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Phong Nha Cave

The entrance to Phong Nha Cave
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Phong Nha Cave

Phong Nha Cave close-up
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Phong Nha Cave

Back in the daylight


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