Breakfast our second morning in Son Doong proved even more delicious than the first. Sitting at a picnic table eating fruit-filled fresh crepes boggled our minds as we imagined the prehistoric scene awaiting us in the distance. We broke camp and were on the trail by 9:15 AM heading under the boulders on a new path towards Watch out for Dinosaurs.
Howard and Deb had been taking people on a more perilous elevated path where the stones were less secure. Luckily they recently discovered a lower route which required ducking and crawling among the jagged edges surrounding us. I closely followed Thanh and he regularly reminded me to keep my hands off the camera on this dangerous stretch.
Squeezing through we reached the cavern’s right wall and were greeted with a cloudy sky leaking into the doline. Watch out for Dinosaurs began with a treacherous climb among slippery mosses and loose rocks. We split us up into groups of 2 plus a guide in case loose stones began raining down from above.
I waited patiently at the bottom hoping to snap pictures on both ends and left in the 3rd group. The climb slowly turned from gigantic stones into a mossy fern-filled path. Rocks were replaced with pebbles as a slick dusty path snaked its way upwards. Climbing through the cloud nature’s green presence continued to grow. By the time we reached the summit we were deep into a jungle with the first peak offering a mind-blowing view of our ascent. 90 degrees to the left a series of verdant stalagmites, smooth and rounded with age, stoically defended us from the abyss.
Next to these green guardians were a set of plate-like green gours filled with life. Droplets glistened as they fell from the massive opening to the jungle hundreds of meters above. By the time I reached the top Kate & Chris were playfully catching droplets in their mouths while Howard supervised with a camera in a scene out of a Flintstones grade school recess.
Eager to join the fun and games I reluctantly stayed my crossing to snap some shots from a distance. The next chamber silhouetted everything beyond with an unimaginable darkness. That darkness we would eventually penetrate after a leisurely afternoon in nature’s green playground.
It was atop the second precipice that I met Mr. Phuoc, a park ranger, who completed this scene with a broad Vietnamese smile. after I ventured out and back he patiently waited for me to be the last one down the far side of the doline. Along this descent Mr. Phuoc pointed out scenery and some alien insects while assisting with my photography. Despite a distinct lack of English we communicated and carried on very well.
We soon caught up to Chris who had paused his venture to setup a brilliant shot with Kate & the whole doline. I took the cue on the scenery and managed to find a pool that sported a magnificent reflection of Watch out for Dinosaurs. Thanh waited at the top and was an excellent model as a few others climbed a nearby calcite mound for a higher perspective. By the end of our photo session Mr. Tu (our cook) had arranged a glorious picnic for all.
The afternoon meal had tons of Vietnamese snacks sitting between sliced fruit and dozens of peeled hard boiledeggs. There were crackers, cheese and coconut Vietnamese snacks. Oh, and don’t forget the kit-kats & oreos! We devoured the meal before departing for the dark cavern; a speck of sunshine barely visible from the next doline.