General, Travel

Black holes and hell’s cave

Not going to lie, when I woke up this morning, I felt pretty shoddy. That said, nothing was going to stop me from doing the cave rappling. We got up this morning and headed down to breakfast, Having an included breakfast makes all the difference for the rest of the day. W stocked up on food and liquids, which is the most valuable bit of breakfast in my opinion, and headed back to the room to get cave ready. The walking boots are having their first proper outing. Despite feeling rotten, I put on my best face to make sure Lek let me go; very pleased that I did. 

WE hopped in a mini-bus for 20 minutes to a local limestone ‘mountain’ and were all handed a big bottle of water. Clearly they knew something I didn’t know, I thought a small bottle would have been enough! We were all handed a helmet, and then told to start climbing the stairs. there were hundreds of them, and they were flipping steep. Ahhh, so this is why we needed the water! We were all thinking the same thing: we’re here to abseil, so does that mean we will have to walk up this staircase 4 times? I hope not, I was sick when I got to the top. Yes, yes, I know, I shouldn’t really have been doing it ill.

Once at the top of the stairs, we were all given a harness and a set of gloves, and the helmet was fitted to our heads. We saw the practice wall, and all breathed a sigh of relief that we wouldn’t be going low enough for a stair revisit. I got to go first, and enjoyed it, even though it was only 4m. I think I was more worried about Jade and how she would get one, with her fear of heights and what not.We all passed that level comfortably, and were told we needed to climb higher for our first proper abseil, into a small black hole (a cave that you enter through the top, that makes it appear like a black hole.)

Climbing of course meant more stairs, which were horrific once again. Once we got to the top, we were told we could leave our bags and personal items there as the next 2 climbs were from the same ridge in different directions. The views from up there were stunning. Again, I went first, and was told that when I saw a hole, jump into it and bounce off the wall. Well, I couldn’t see it, so started walking down the wall. It appeared out of nowhere, and I just had to go for it. I don’t think the rest of the way was the most elegant abseil ever undertaken, but I made it to the bottom without any problems, and the cave was cool. I watched everyone else come down, all doing well, especially Jade, considering how unsure she was at the top. Thankfully, we could climb out of the back of the cave and back up onto the ridge, avoiding the stairs completely.

I think the second proper abseil (25m)was the one that people were most nervous about, because it was down an open cliff-face rather than into a cave. After some photography negotiations, people started abseiling down, and were doing really well. I went in the middle, and really enjoyed it. I decided just to jump this one, rather than walk any of it; I felt like I was leaving the wall a bit far. It was really good though. Jade came down after me, after some nervous steps, and a pause to regain composure. Then Leianne cam down chanting her mantra ”Happy Buddha Happy Buddha” and how her legs didn’t reach because she was a Shetland pony. It was too funny.

When we got down, we were given a really good lunch. Sandwiches, I’ve missed proper sandwiches. I am trying not to sell out and buy western food, but when westernish food is provided in an included lunch I am going to enjoy it. The fruit here is so good, especially the mango and pineapple. After lunch we were shown round some of the other caves, featuring different buddhas and intricate carvings, and then had our photo taken next to Leianne’s favourite – a happy buddha.

We walked a little further to the 57m drop into Hell’s Cave, a bigger black hole that the first abseil with more impressive things in it. I offered to go last to take pictures of everyone from the top. That and because I was one of the less terrified. One by one they descended, every time someone reached the bottom they were allowed to ring a bell to signal the top that they were safe. Kind of cute. Jade got over a bit quicker than on the second climb. Very proud of how well she did. I had a less than graceful landing, but once down, could see the unbelievable things located in Hell’s cave. There were many chambers containing different Buddhist worship points and statues. it was mightily impressive.

I was ready to get back to the hotel and crash, which I did for the best part of an hour. Afterwards, I got to spend a decent chunk of time in the pool. Sally, Melissa, Pete, and I were messing around with a go-pro in the water, it was a lot of fun.I am looking forward to seeing the bizarre array of pictures and videos taken.

We opted for street food in the evening, which was lovely, if simple. Chicken and rice. Thuy got us a good deal, but I just wasn’t hungry, such a shame. The place looked like it was someone’s large garage, or the camel enclosure at Chester Zoo. It was cheap though, very cheap, which is the main thing when eating good street food.  We wandered around Hoi-An which is lovely. If Disney did Vietnam, it would look like Hoi-An old town lantern-lit by night. After walking over the river, and having a drink in a bar, I was ready to go home.

Motorbike tomorrow; not sure this ever stops!

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