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  • Day8

    Phong Nha

    October 1 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 91 °F

    We spent most of a day driving from Ninh Binh to Phong Nha. The trip took a little extra because ws asked the driver to cross a stream bed to bypass a 'road closed to cars' sign. We also asked him to add a half hour or so to steer away from the busy truck traffic on the A1. This allowed us to head up into the mountains and witness some stunning landscapes. The mountain road is now designated the Ho Chi Minh route. At one point the road suddenly get very flat and straight for about a mile. The road here is a remnant of the clandestine airstrip built by the north Vietnamese to land and refuel Russian MIG fighters flown by Vietnamese pilots. The US forces in Danang were completely unprepared as they assumed that they were beyond the range of those planes. The attack shook US confidence.

    Phong Nha is a town bordering Ke Bang National Park. It's sort of a case study in tourist planning and zoning gone wrong, but it does have its positives. The government built a streetscape heading out of the town to the south that is now completely crumbling and overgrown. The actual investor related development snakes up the riverside for several kilometers. Lots of homestays Nd bars right on the river.

    Ke Bang National Park is home to several of the largest caves in the world. One of which is the largest. Period. That one costs 3k to enter and takes days to explore. We chose the cheaper and more visited Paradise Cave. It is vast and filled with interesting formations. See the first few photos below.

    In the late afternoon we visited Phong Nha Cave. It is a few miles upriver from the town and requires a boat to visit. See the subsequent photos.

    Evening we headed out to Momma D's. A new open air bar/restaurant atop one of the tallest buildings in the area. Momma D, from Edmonton, Alberta is a great host. See photo from the rooftop.
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