In Phong Nha, I had reserved a room in a farmhouse. It was located on the edge of a vast plain of rice fields. The place, run by an Australian man and his Vietnamese wife, was beautiful and off the beaten track. From my room, I could only see rice fields as far as the eye could see.
I was welcomed by Dean, a young American man from Seattle of Vietnamese origin. Like me, his parents had not taught him Vietnamese at home. He had made the choice to come and work in Vietnam for a year to learn the language.
Even before I dropped off my luggage, I investigated the question of the caves. If possible, I wanted to leave the next morning. I didn't want to lose a day.
Dean then told me that the only expedition still available was a three-day, two-night trip to the Tu Lan caves.
I hesitated for a moment. This visit seemed a little longer than I would have liked. Besides, I had never visited caves before and I found this introduction a bit ambitious. Dean then added that I had to make a decision quickly because there was only one place left.
I had to decide if I had time to go on a three-day trip. I sat down at a table in the restaurant and opened my card. I had planned to be in Hue in four days and the drive to Phong Nha had taken me one day less than expected. Obviously, I could leave in three days without compromising my plans.
Dean congratulated me on my decision. "This is the most amazing experience you can have in Vietnam. You won't regret it," he told me.
I was excited. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew it would be wonderful.
The rest is unspeakable. I simply have no words to describe visiting these fabulous caves.
Dean was right. The excursion to the Tu Lan caves was the highlight of my trip. I would even go so far as to say that it was the most incredible experience I have ever had in my life.
Unfortunately, my video camera broke on the morning of the second day. So I couldn't capture the most beautiful moments of our expedition.
But maybe it's better this way. Go and see it for yourself.