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Ho Chi Minh Trail, Phong Nha Caves, and on to Dong Hoi


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large_938978_14286052048419.jpgToday we would be leaving the road we have been following since the first day, Highway One. We would go on for today at least over the Ho Chi Minh trail, a road originally used by Vietcong to get the troops and the supplies to wherever they needed them.

But first we were going to visit a local market. It started with a few clothing stands, but as we walked further backwards there was fruit, herbs, tealeaves, coffeebeans, fresh fish, meat, alive chickens, frogs, dogs and a lot more. Vietnam is one of the few countries where dogs are still a delicacy...but i didn't see the part where they kept the dogs. I didn't want to see that knowing they would be dog kebab not much later.

From there on we left the Highway on to Ho Chi Minh trail. After about an hour or so we arrived at the Dong Loc Monument.large_938978_14286052206382.jpg Dong Loc jwas an important junction during the war, and was heavily bombed by the Americans. This monument was built to remember ten North-Vietnamese anti-aircraft fighters who kept the junction open ( ten girls between the age of 17 and 24). The girls' graves are near the memorial.It is also a monument for all the other people that were killed there during the bombardements.

There also is a little museum with pictures (mainly from Vietcong side) how the bombardements destroyed everything. Outside there are still the craters to be seen, together with some old artillery, monumental satues and old (dimantled) bombs they found. A big part of vietnam still isn't safe because there are a lot of non-exploded bombs lying around, so people are still getting killed by those bombs because they try to disarm them.large_938978_14286053014555.jpg They try to open them with a saw so they can get the explosives out of the shells. Reason for them to do so is beacause they can sell the irons scaps for a bit of money, and the other parts as well. And sometimes that goes horribly wrong.

After that impressive monument we went on to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Phong Nha caves. First we went on a boat. It was quite a while before we saw the entrance to the Phong Nha Caves, about an hour or so. And it was cloudy and raining a bit so the view wasn't spectacular. Luckily the boat had a roof :). We went into the caves, fist by boat. The peddled a route through this enormous (not yet completely discovered) cave system, that had been a weapon depot for the vietcong during the war. Now they put some lights into it to give a few accents to the wonderful rockformations we saw along the way.large_938978_14286052963186.jpg

After about 15 minutes they dropped us off in one of the caves, and we could walk along a set trail by ourselves. It was amazing! Hot and humid, but amazing! To see what it looks like inside that mountain was awesome. Rock formations, natural stairs, well they probably got a little help, but most of it was natural. Because of the damp the stone was a little slippery so you had to watch your step. It took a while before we were out again. Unfortunately, that's when it started to rain a lot. So everybody made a run back to the boats. The rain didn't take long and stopped while we were going back to the starting point, so by the time we stepped out of the boat it was dry again.

After that it was on to Dong Hoi. We would be staying at an awesome resort. And the resort itself was beautiful. Only minor thing was due to a storm 3 weeks before....there was no beach anymore. The storm ruined it (and more), so no beach walk in the evening....

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Posted by Astreia 17:00 Archived in Vietnam

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