Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey
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HILLMAN INDOCHINA ADVENTURE
PART 3

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PAGE 13:
JUNK VOYAGE ON HA LONG BAY IV:

Sung Sot (Sudden Surprise) Cave
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Halong Bay is world famous for its many beautiful caves which were mostly created in Pleistocene epoch. Sung Sot Cave - Sudden Surprise Cave (means Amazing in Vietnamese) - is on Bo Hon Island, and is one of the finest and widest of the many limestone grottos of Ha Long Bay.

After docking at the cave we climbed 25m of steep, tree-lined rock stairs to the mouth of the grotto. We entered the outer chamber known as the "waiting room" where our guide shared a bit of history of the cave. He explained the legend associated with the stone in the shape of a horse and a long sword next to the entrance. We also learned that the Viet Cong hid here during their war with the South and USA. The lighting in the cave dates from 1999 when it was installed by the Chinese.

Climbing more rock stairs through narrow openings we entered the huge main chambers filled with the usual karst cavern features of stalactites, stalagmites, columns  - all well lit with lights that brought out many colours and shapes. The lighting and shadows and formations suggested a variety of images and with a few hints from the guides visitors started to see people, plants, animals and mythical creatures in varying poses. The name Sudden Surprise Cave is due to the amazed reaction of French explorers in 1901 and more recent visitors when they first visited this 30 m cavern and also when they saw a rock shaped like a huge erect penis -- now lit by a red spotlight

Over the years we've visited numerous other famous caverns: Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, etc., so it was a treat to add this visit to our list.

We exited to a platform overlooking the bay for a group photo and passed by a souvenir shop and the long descent down to the pier area were there were many floating market boats. At the bottom by the pier was a woman working her "fish farm" between the walkway and the side of the hill. She had pools with different kinds of fish, oysters, and shrimp. They were huge! We're not sure whether is was for show or actually for home / restaurant use. Then it was time back on board the junk for a cool shower followed by another mid-day feast! They said a light lunch, but again, about five courses of deliciousness. Vietnam was certainly living up to her reputation as the place for delicious food!

We packed for our return to shore and trip back to Hanoi to catch an overnight train to Hue.


Leaving our junk to reach Sung Sot Cave across the bay


The long rocky climb to the cave entrance


Gathering at the smaller entry cavern before climbing to the massive main galleries


The huge "sudden surprise" jutting erect and proud from a massive column


Exploring the huge beautifully lit cavern


Photo op on the exit landing overlooking the Bay


Down to the shore to stroll past the fascinating market stalls and boats


Back to the Star Fish for our final meal
before returning to Haoni to catch an overnight train to Hue.
Sue-On and Beam relaxing on deck.

 

MORE VIETNAM XIII PHOTOS IN
 SECTION 1: CAVE INTERIOR SHOTS
and
SECTION 2: ON THE BAY AROUIND THE CAVES

TO MAIN INDOCHINA PAGE

TO VIETNAM CONTENTS

Copyright 2015
Bill and Sue-On Hillman
hillmans@wcgwave.ca