Vietnam Days 11-14

R&R

StartPic Claire and I took an awesome three day break in Dong Hoi, at the excellent Beachside backpackers. Made new friends young and old, drank a ton of beer for the first day and a half, went to see some truly awe-inspiring caves, and generally had a fantastic time.

Caves

CaveStart We took a nice two hour motorcycle ride up to two sets of caves in the Phong Nha Park (a Unesco World Heritage site). The Dark Cave was a fun swim, and had a giant mud bath inside. Interesting, but pricy and "adventure touristy" (A Zipline! A Safety Video! Unnecessary Kayaking!). Also a little cranky as my helmet fell off during the zipline and I was charged $60 for it (which I argued down to $20). Still Fun!
ClaireAndICavestart

The Paradise Cave, however, was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. A nice hike 100m up the side of a hill led to a small downward staircase, going through a smallish opening. Just before going through, you look down and realize that the cave opens up 200m below you, the ceiling rising maybe 20m above your head. The lights lighting the bottom of the cave are seen as through a mist from this vantage, and the full insane size of the thing doesn't become apparent until halfway down. The currently open section continues for a whole kilometer back from this majestic opening, continually fascinating, and apparently continues for another 31 km! If I'm ever back to this area I'm sure I will be shelling out for a longer adventure.
ClaireandHochiEntrance

Our new, and amazing, friend Hoshi took some awesome pictures at the cave (all the photo credits to this section go to him, and you can see him with Claire above), but it is hard to capture the crazy size of the thing. Google Image Searching the cave begins to make it understandable.
CaveBig Claire Look CaveUnesco This is for Elvo and fans of Elvo.

Day 14 Ride

A nice long 97km day! We didn't have a great distance estimate at the start of the day, as we were planning a few off guide roads, but were nicely surprised at the end to see such high km feeling so well. The start also involved a nice rolling hill area through some inland dunes with no services, and we ended up riding 40km in the morning without a break. We are both feeling pretty good about all that! In Dong Ha today, heading for Hue tomorrow (a short 71km), though expecting some rain all day, so that will be fun!

Also crossed the DMZ today, without realizing it. We did take a picture at the very striking memorial we found, not knowing what it was - so don't worry we have photographic evidence. Strange to think that an area known infamously by most Americans just 40 years ago could be crossed unwittingly on bicycle by Americans today...
DMZStatue ClaireDMZ

Strava

Keep on Keeping On

NotTheDMZ This image is us crossing a river that, it turns out, was not the DMZ.