After collecting my bike I rode off to Dark Cave past the many karst limestone rock faces that make this area famous but more so for the hidden treasures that lurk within. Dark Cave is partly an adventure park but its main draw is its mud cave. After getting equipped with weight harness and helmet, I climbed the staircase to the launchpad for a zip line over a lagoon. The zip line zipped me (duh) over the water into the final descent where I came in hot plunging into the soft dirt which slowed me down to a stand still. From there, we walked into the large open cave and prepared for the mud cave itself with our helmets now fully lit. Without the torched helmets we would have been caving through complete darkness. The path began getting muddy all too quickly that I got swept off my bare feet several times as I lowered myself further into the muck. At the final resting point where we lingered for some time, I was fully immersed in mud. The muddy water was so thick that I was able to float upon the surface just like I always imagined the Dead Sea to be with its fully absorbent salt deposits. I felt a bit like I was trying to wade through quick sand the mud had slowed me down so throughly from progressing through the cave. Of course some mud fights went on until each and every one of us turned off our lights to unveil complete darkness. It was a true mud bath as we completely soaked each centimeter of our bodies in the muck. I sat in there like a hot tub letting the suds work over my body. After leaving the cave and rinsing ourselves off in a adjacent natural pool, we kayaked over to the adventure park where I was able to attempt to some free wheeling zip lines over the water until releasing myself into a cool refreshing plunge. Next up I headed over to Paradise Cave to explore its beauty. Paradise Cave was devoid of the adventure but held up its end with a large cavern into a world of stalagmites and stalactites. I have seen quite a few caves through my time traveling but none approach this caves breadth and beauty. I could not believe how deep it went continuing on and past some large encompassing cave features. It was another world down there that I struggled to move past stunned beyond motion from continuing on to the next portion of the cave. I stood back in awe to contemplate and even let the imagination export in this interpretative natural art world. With the daylight that I had available before returning to Son Trach, I explored the area of this national park winding myself along the various roads to capture the unending panoramas that took in the mountainous land that never seemed to die. I have seen mountains before but when you take Halong Bay (haven’t seen it yet), remove the water, and let those peaks rise to the clouds, you are witnessing something special. Moments like these when I find an outcropping to stop to take it all in don’t last long enough. I had gotten so absorbed into the scenery I hated that I would need to let it go and continue on my journey. It deserved to be appreciated longer. Back in Son Trach, I found the British chap I originally met in Hue. He had quite the tale of his lost day bag that had disappeared in a series of unfortunate events that dated back to his time creeping through the untouched stretch near Tang Ky. Unfortunately for him, all of his electronics and most importantly passport went along with the bag so he was now hard pressed to reach Hanoi which fit into my plans of getting north as quickly as possible after taking my time through the central highlands. With an early night, we made plans to set off early to have as much daylight and time as possible to cover all the ground we and our bikes were capable of.
Riding Vietnam Day 177: What’s Mud Got To Do With It?