Vietnam: Hang Sung Sot Cave in Ha Long Bay

One of the activities I enjoy doing is caving. So, I was enthusiastic when I learned that exploring several caves in Ha Long Bay was included in our cruise itinerary.

Beautiful Sung Sot Cave.

Strange color mix.

Hang Sung Sot Cave is situated at the centre of Ha Long Bay which is one of the World 7 Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the most beautiful and largest caves in Ha Long Bay, covering an area of about 10,000 square meters at an altitude of about 30 meters.

Caves of surprises.

View from the cave.

Hang Sung Sot Cave is also known as the Surprising Cave. It is the most famous cave to visit in Ha Long Bay and it is dubbed as an “opera house” because of the beauty of its thousands of stalactites and stalagmites. I have learned that it has been voted as one of the 10 most beautiful caves in the world by the Association of Tourism Offices and Brokers of the Czech Republic.

Natural wonder!

On the way up.

As soon as we arrived at the base of the cave, we slowly ascended about 150 steep stone steps to reach the entrance of the cave. It was so crowded! When we went in, it looked small but as we moved in, we didn’t feel so crowded anymore as it was huge, well lit and paved.

Limestone cave at Ha Long Bay.

This naturally carved cave is enormous! In fact, I was pretty impressed at the size. I have visited caves in the Philippines and a few other countries, but nothing compares to the sheer size of this one. We were told by our guide that hundreds of troops use to seek refuge in them during the war.

Some rock formations.

The ceiling.

This colossal cave has two chambers. It looks like a theater hall as it features different unusual rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites. While we were walking, our guide told us stories about the cave and he also pointed to certain shapes in the cave and how it resembled certain animal, human parts, etc. The coloured lights that they played in it helped us give to get a sense of depth that white light only wouldn’t, plus it gave us good moment to capture good pictures on our camera.

It’s gigantic!

Another stunning view from the cave.

Besides amazing size and marvelous rock formations, the view from the cave is fabulous, overlooking Ha Long Bay and the boats.

Gaping at the natural wonders.

I certainly enjoyed the trek inside the cave. I enjoyed the magnificent views and the various rock formations of stalagmites and stalactites.

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • The climb is quite steep and can be precarious for the older people especially if they are not steady or have difficulty walking.
  • Wear good walking shoes.
  • Move at your own pace and don’t rush to keep up with the others.
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Cambodia: Limestone Caves and Mountains of Kampong Trach

We went on a motorbike journey in Cambodia and one of the places we visited was the Kampong Trach District, where the main attractions are the series of limestone caves and the Limestone Mountains.

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Kampong Trach cave

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A pose inside the cave.

Kampong Trach is a small and comparatively unexciting town of Kampot Province that borders Vietnam to the east, Gulf of Thailand to the south and Kep Province to the west. In this town, there’s a side road that skirts the base of Phnom Voar (Vine Mountain), where the last holdouts of the Khmer Rouge and where they held more than 100 hostages during the mass-kidnapping victims in 1994.

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Accidentally found this place.

As soon as we left the main road and passed through the hamlets, we were greeted by children calling out “sua s’dei” or hello. As we approached the caves more and more children were following us on their huge bicycles. They were harmless, inoffensive and wanted to play as guides.

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Nice view. We took this way to the caves.

While we were finding the way to the cave, we bumped into a field-like area with cattle grazing, saw beautiful limestone mountains with nice rock formations, and brilliant views over the countryside. We stopped for a while there, and enjoyed a gentle walk while enjoying the view and the breeze.

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Limestone Mountains

When we reached the entrance of the cave, we agreed to take two children for a decent fee as guides and off we went. They told us the stories and legends of the cave and the area; gave us commentary about the different figures inside, such as the elephant, crocodile, etc and they enjoyed trying out their English as they took us round. They were also polite and were careful to light up the dark footway.

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Buddha statue inside the cave.

Inside the caves there were several shrines, lots of Buddha statues, and a couple of interesting Hindu statues. The rock formations inside were nice to see too. The children told us that the head of the reclining Buddha had been restored due to donations as it was snapped off during the war. The ground area near the well was very sticky, so be careful.

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Taken from the cave.

All in all, it was very interesting and fun visit especially interacting with local children guides.

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • Bring a flashlight and wear good walking shoes.
  • Wear mosquito repellent lotion as there are plenty of mosquitoes inside the caves.
  • It is better if you go with a guide since it is not a straightforward route from Kampot or Kep to the caves.

Taste of Home: Guacamole

Since I was a small child, I have enjoyed eating avocado, especially my mom’s avocado fruit salad. On the top of the fact that avocado is a very nutritious and delicious food, it can go with all sorts of foods and blend well with various ingredients as it has a creamy, buttery and fatty texture. I love avocado even more when I learned its many healthy benefits: healthy for the heart, great for vision, improved digestion, helps lose weight, and many more.

Perfect Guacamole!

Perfect Guacamole!

Today, I decided to make my favorite dip called guacamole for our afternoon’s snack. I love guacamole because it’s fresh, healthy, quick, easy and addictive!

Ingredients good for 3 persons:

  • 1 big ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 ripe lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 6 pieces spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red capsicum, minced
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Mash the avocado in a medium bowl.
  • Add lime juice and mix.
  • Add cilantro, spring onions and capsicum. Mix together thoroughly.
  • Add salt to taste. Mix.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for best flavor.
  • Serve with Doritos or with any crisps you like and enjoy.