donderdag 23 februari 2017

Vietnam 2017: Caving adventures

The adventures of Lieven, Dong, Heide and Pieter in the fields and the mountains of Cao Bang are numerous, some of them will be told here.
At first it fits to tell that we were the attraction of the area, pictures from and with us are taken constantly.

Heide meets buffalo

Heide, Lieven and Pieter With a local official
our fourth man Dong took the picture


Our first day at the team was meant to find us some cave entrances, therefore we went to the local community center, and we tried to find out if the local people knew some entrances.
These meetings are always accompanied with some tea. The meeting helped because they took us to three cave entrances, one of these (Nguon Xe) was mapped directly.
When we came back in the village we were invited to drink a glass with the local chief. The local drink is an own made alcoholic distilled from corn wine (in the rest of the post referred to as corn wine), the flavor and alcohol percentage is dependent on the producer ;)

The house of the village chief

Meeting with the local village chiefs.
In the middle, Dong our guide can be seen.

Cave 1: Nguon Xe

A heavy walk/climb was necessary to reach this cave. The entrance to the cave is almost completely closed with a stone wall safe for a door opening and some gun openings, because a long time ago this cave was used as shelter. The cave itself was very descent with a ceiling hight of about 10m and a width between 20 and 40m.
The cave was covered with gigantic pillars, after our mapping session we found out that it was a "mere" 200m long.

Some photographs of the climb from and to the cave
The entrance door to the cave with at the right a gun hole.

Cave 2: Rang Cang

Our second visit was a huge hole. Never did anyone go down in this cave, therefor a lot of people came to check how we descended in the pit. A couple of hours later we saw that 16 people even  waited till we came back out again.
We were very popular with the local people

Dong after the climb of 35m.
In the background some of our "spectators".

The cave was a very large collapsed hall, due to the absence of a roof sunlight was penetrating in most of the cave. The first descent was 35m deep (total depth of 100m), this was the only descent where we used ropes. The cave continued with a rocky slope in an old riverbed, we were a bit disappointed when we did not find a continuation of the cave in here. We then decided to map the cave. Together with Dong and Alain Provice, Lieven Searched for some other possible continuations. We returned to ground level to greet our fans.

The entrance to the cave seen from inside the cave. For scale the spot at the left of the rope
is one of our team members

Some tree trunks from times long lost

Lieven exploring the cave.
Once we came out we were invited to get dinner with another Village chief.

Dinner time

We visited a lot of Vietnamese houses in our search for caves, and each time we are invited with the greatest hospitality. According to Tuan the local hospitality is even greater for foreigners than for fellow Vietnamese. Something remarkable is that each house, even the most humble ones in the most remote places, has access to the electricity net.
At the top, smoked buffalo and pork.
At the bottom cooking pots for pig forage

Ready for the meal, at the right our dear driver

After tea more people came to the house till there were more than 10 people around the table, such as the local teacher and the electricity guy.

After our meal of buffalo, pork vegetables and rice we were invited to drink the local corn wine. At the end we got a short tour at the farm and at last after a goodbye drink we left to sleep in our cozy hotel room.

Grot 3: Ca Cia
We did not expect much of this cave and we expected the cave to end quickly, we assumed the 50m the local people told us about to be an overestimate. They also warned us for a possible high concentration of carbon dioxide. But we wanted to be as complete as possible thus we started to descent the pit.

This time even more than 60 people stood around the pit to watch us come out.

After one day of survey we found the pit to be even deeper than expected at 60m and didn't stop at this point. The difficulties with breath were not caused by carbon dioxide but by large air humidity. Thus the cave became very interesting. After a second day of surveying we found the end of the cave at 110m deep.

With the drill ready for action we descent for our first trip into the cave

The number of spectators kept on increasing. At some point Heide counted 60
While more were approaching

More Caves?

After our first day of surveying in the pit the locals told us while drinking a cup of tea and a glass of corn wine that more caves were known and our adventures in this little village didn't end for a few more days.

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