Saturday, October 22 2016


Exploring the nooks and crannies of Cao Bằng's ethereal ‘Bat Cave'

Update: March, 04/2016 - 08:19
Mystical: A stalactite with the shape of the Golden Turtle God in Dong Doi.
by Moc Mien

As a trekking enthusiast who loves exploring the mysterious caves, all the beautiful spots in Viet Nam such as Son Doong, Hang En are still on my to-go list.

Getting caught up in work and daily life does not give me a chance to visit these masterpieces of the Mother Nature, and a trip to any of these sites will cost a whole lot of time and money, surely. Hence, why don't I pack my backpack and visit some closer and more affordable places just to satiate my thirst for adventures?

This was my first thought before setting off to Dong Doi, in Ha Lang District, of Cao Bang Province. I actually underestimated this place before reaching there. All the impressions about the trip were imprinted in my mind, inspiring me more for the bigger adventures ahead.

Dong Doi is referred to by locals in the region as ‘Ca Khao', which means a bat. It is 930 metres (m) in depth with an average height of around 60m to 80m, and is located in Lung Rum Village, of Dong Loan Commune, in Ha Lang area, Cao Bang Province. The cave is hidden under the forest foliage and rocky edges that are easy to totter up.

Standing in front of the cave, tourists can feast their eyes on the magnificent natural scenery. The sunlight slithers through the foliage and flocks of butterflies hover above the newly blooming wild flowers. Far away are the traditional stilt houses of the Tay and Nung people.

Dong Doi is situated inside the limestone mountain range, 700m away from the main road. It is relatively large with a depth around 1,000m, approximately 40m in height with the unique tectonic structure, colourful stalactite spreading throughout the cave. There are three chambers and two levels, separated from each other by the rock cliffs and holes.

It is like a whole new world isolated from the surroundings. Being here is playing hide-and-seek with reality.


Another world: The crystal clear water spring inside Dong Doi refreshes the bodies and minds of tourists. — Photos

Stepping into the first chamber, I was impressed by the traces of the water springs. In the rainy season, a stream of crystal clear water, about 0.5m deep and 2m wide flows along the cave. This chamber has the lowest ceiling, even only 4m at some spots. Huge rock slabs stacked on each other show off their beautiful colours. The stalactites here look like silver and golden falls. On the ground, they resemble giant pie crusts holding water inside.

Going deeper into the cave, the tourists will surely be surprised by the stalactite structure uniquely formed resembling the terraced fields full of shining bright rice plants, regionally called "the fairy's field". Besides, there are hundreds of stalactites hanging down softly resembling an attractive curtain. This second chamber is about 200m long, with a sandy ground. The cave sides adorned by the stalactites look like the classic Chinese landscape painting with mountains, rivers, and forest.


Nature's art: Stalactites that resemble little bamboo shoots are frequently seen in Dong Doi.

"The chamber is an extraordinary blend of the stalactite formation and deep water springs. The air inside the cave is cool and it is hauntingly quiet here." Johnny Han, an American tourist commented.

From the second chamber, I go 300m further into the cave to reach the third chamber, the core of the cave. There are two separate levels in this chamber. The first level is quite large, 10.000sq.m and 80m in height with the uniquely formed rocks that really add mystery to the place. To reach the second level, I have to climb along the rock cliff that is about 10m high. This level resembles a half moon with an average height around 60m. The terraced rock field is spread amidst the chamber's centre. The ceiling in the east is decorated with the stalactites hanging down, which accentuate the stalactites on the ground. The end of the second level is a collection of the shiny golden rocks that help stabilise the ceiling. It can be said that the spacious second floor really elevates the structural beauty of Dong Doi.

If you have a chance to visit Cao Bang for a few days, Dong Doi in Ha Lang is a site worth visiting besides other famous spots such as Ba Be Lake, Ban Gioc Waterfall, or Nguom Ngao Cave.

"It is like escaping from the real world to a cool, mysterious, sparkly yet quiet world," foreign tourist Anna Smith told me when saying goodbye to Dong Doi to return to the city. — VNS

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