Okay so when I said in this post that January was when I settled in, I was lying, because March was when I truly started to enjoy living in this city. A definite highlight was a trip to Phuong Hoang Cave, a cave in our Thái Nguyên province.
We arranged to go to the cave with our friend Blue (not his actual name, but it’s kinda stuck) as none of us had been. I tried to find out stuff online before we went but not much of it was in English so we didn’t know what to expect, as with most things over here.
It was an hour’s bus ride out of Thái Nguyên City and when we got there I was immediately struck by how quiet it was. We live in a smaller city, not like Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, but it’s still noisy all the time with people and traffic (and karaoke!). The sign for the entrance to the cave was so unassuming I would have definitely missed it if I didn’t know it was there. It was only 2,000 VND to get in (like 8p), which is something I love about non-touristy places!
First we went to the wet cave, which was okay but the dry cave was the show stealer. It was allegedly 1,000 steps to the top (I later read online that it may have been 2,000 and I believe that) and it was hard work! But we were rewarded with fantastic views over the countryside as we made our way to the top.
We got to the entrance of the cave and peered inside not sure if we could go in but as we walked inside we found steps that led to the biggest cave, like seriously there was so much to explore down there.
Then there was the dark side of the cave, which was just a little bit creepy. We needed our phone lights on to get around and there were so many different paths we could have easily gotten lost. There was also this mad graffiti all over the ceiling that was clearly done by just one person, and Blue said it was something about hating a girl, which added to the creepy vibe! Then there were the bats flying around so we thought it was best to get out of there before we got rabies (when I say we I mean I). The way back down was much easier and we saw loads of baby goats being herded and they were the cutest little things.
I think things here can be so good because you never have any expectations; with other tourist destinations I’ve generally seen pictures online and read reviews so I know what I’m going to see but here I’m just along for the ride. Living here is a great opportunity to explore some parts of the country that not so may other foreigners get to experience and we couldn’t have done it without our friend, so thanks Blue!
Have you ever found an unexpected gem near where you live?
If you want to see more photos of my travels you can check out my Flickr