Tag Archive | "Hang Son Doong"

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Amazing Cave Story

Posted on 19 May 2012 by RE Team

Human race spent thousands of years inside caves in the process of evolution. The caves not only provides shelter to lives, but also home to various unique species till now. There are number of gigantic caves around the earth that have self sustaining ecosystem and create a different world inside themselves. In the modern world, the discovery of such cave is always a thrilling story, as they are normally hidden in the remote jungles or mountains lying unknowingly to humans preserving a world inside it untouched for thousands, may be millions of years.


The gigantic Hang Son Doong Cave - Coutesy NationalGeographic


Almost a year back such a spectecular cave was discovered in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam. This cave is so huge in size that it contains a river, a  complete jungle and even its own thin clouds making the other side of the cave out of sight at times. It is large enough to accomodate a whole city with skyscrapper inside it. In fact we are talking about the largest cave passage in the world here, named as Hang Son Doong.  For decades, geologists have doubted that Vietnam could be home to some of the world’s most spectacular caves. But a large number of them were unexlored. British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, are the first to explore the cave. The cave is named as Hang Son Doong, means mountain river cave. Though credit of bringing the largest cave to the outside world goes to Howard and Limbert, yet the actual discovery credit of the cave goes to a local man named Hồ-Khanh.

Ho Khanh’s family lived in a nearby village and he has long story to tell about the discovery of the cave.

“I was born into a poor family. My father died, and my family had no rice fields, so I had to go to the jungle for work to support my family. Over a period of 13 years, I learnt the location of many caves in the areas I passed through.

In the rainy season of 1991, I went with two others to look for the aloe wood, which is very precious and exists deep in the jungle. It is very hard to find. We separated and I went through Hang En. The next day was raining very hard, so I looked for somewhere to stay for the night. Fortunately I found the entrance of an unknown cave. After the trip I returned home, and gradually forgot about this cave.

Mr Khanh - The discoverer of the cave

In 2006 I met the British Caving Expedition and took them to the Doong area, where they explored many caves. In 2007 I took them to the Doong area again for further cave exploration. On this trip we found Ho Nui Cave. Before the end of the trip I talked with Mr. Howard. Although we can’t speak the same language I knew that he was looking for a cave to connect Hang En, with another cave Hang Thoong, in the Tra Anh area.

I had a memory of a cave in this area, which maybe had a wind, and fog blowing from the entrance, but I couldn’t remember the location. I went off for an extra day searching for this cave, but unfortunately failed.
I didn’t want to give in. Because of my great admiration for the explorers’ abilities and their friendship, I wanted to show them this cave. In January 2008, I spent my own time and money to return to the Doong area to look for the entrance. Relying on my memory and experience, I followed the stream from Hang En, and fortunately found the big cave entrance in about half a day. I cut down some wild saplings to reach the entrance. Finally using my knowledge of the jungle, I found the best path to take the cavers to the entrance, and made it as easy as possible. It was now 2pm on the third day, so I returned to Phong Nha and waited for the expedition to return.
In March 2009 the expedition returned to Son Trach. On the first trip I really wanted to take Mr. Howard to the new cave, but another team came. At that time I was worried in case the cave was dry and not very long. But thank god, in this trip the cave length was measured at about 5k, and there was a large subterranean river. The explorers realized that this could be the largest cave passage in the world.

I believe that I have made them all especially Mr. Howard very pleased, because this is an important cave which connects the Doong area with the Tra Anh area.”
-courtesy vietnamcaves.com

So is the story of discovery of the largest cave passage in the world. The Son Doong cave measures 262 feet by 262 feet (80 meters by 80 meters) and at least 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) deep. The biggest chamber of Son Doong is over five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide. This discovery overtook the size of Deer Cave, which held the record of the largest cave passage previously. Deer Cave in Malaysia, is 300 feet by 300 feet (91 m by 91 m) in parts, but is only about a mile (1.6 km) long.


Hang Son Doong - Couresy NationaGeographic


The Son Doong cave is located in in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park of Vietnam, near the Laos-Vietnam border. Phong Nha-Ke Bang area is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves and grottos with a total length of about 70 km, of which only 20 have been surveyed by Vietnamese and British scientists. It is currently a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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