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KPowintheworld

Paradise Cave and the middle of nowhere

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 9 April 2014 | Views [233]

After a severly rickety ride (we ended up in the back again, good thing we have strong stomachs, even hungover!), a confusing stop for lunch and purple ice cream, some already breathtaking views and changing buses, we made it to the cave site. And promptly hopped in a golf cart....? Well, as long as they weren't asking us for extra money, we were happy. We zoomed along a little ways and reached the staircase up to the cave. Now, I'd read online that these were quite the stairs, leaving people gasping along the way. To those people I say.... um, really?? Maybe I'd built it up in my head but I'm in general poor backpacker shape and didn't really have a problem. They're long-ish but not bad at all.

After a little history spiel from our peppy student guide, we went exploring. And it was soo worth the trip! The cave was huge, I can't even begin to describe the feeling of being inside it. Initially we were some of very few people inside so it was very peaceful, quiet and just generally impressive. They'd set up coloured lights along the way to highlight particularly impressive stalactites/mites but it wasn't tacky, just really cool.

Sadly, the walkway only goes in about 1km whereas the rest of the cave continues on for many, many more. So we did it in and hour and a half, I think? Walking very slowly. But it was really nice, and something different from what we'd done before. If you have time, I'd definitely recommend this trip.

After the cave, a bunch of us were heading on to Hanoi so got dropped off at various places around the nearby city of Dong Hoi aka small town Vietnam. Nowhere remotely touristy in sight, we got advice from some people on the street and settled in at a local restaurant. A bit of hilarity ensued. They welcomed us in, we sat down and a woman comes out of the kitchen and taps me and one of the other girls on the shoulder and motions to follow her...we think. We followed her into the kitchen where she pointed to several giant vats of food, none of them really recognisable. Now one of the girls also happened to be a vegetarian and I wasn't sure if Tom was eating so when she held up four fingers we said no, not four people eating, three! After a lot of back and forth which included us running back out to see if Tom was eating and get the girl to check if she could eat the food and just a lot of gebneral good-natured confusion, we all ended up with a ton of tofu, rice and veg in front of us, gorged ourselves and paid 40 000 dong each, which is what she'd been indicating earlier. It wasn't over. At the end of our meal, what seemed like every secondary school student in the city poured into the restaurant, sincerely amused at the group of foreigners in their midst. They still avoided our table though, even though there was room, and there was a lot of chair scraping and table shufffling to fit evetryone in.

We finished up and gave the students their extra space, then headed back to hang out at the pick up spot until the nice long, 14 hour bus ride to Hanoi.

Sorry no photos here, they're lost!

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