King Kong and the Three Caves
You may be wondering why I have called today’s blog “King Kong and the Three Caves”. Well, today we took a boat ride through three caves and passed where the latest King Kong movie was filmed.
Before I share with you our boat ride to the three caves, let me introduce Tania to you. We were walking down the path by our homestay toward the main high road of Tam Coc when Tim started to chat with Tania, from Barcelona. He has a habit of chatting to beautiful young ladies! We were on our way for a boat ride through the three caves (Tam Coc means Three Caves) and invited her to join us.
The three of us paid our 195,000 dongs each, put life jackets on and climbed into a small wooden boat, introducing ourselves to Laulau, our local boatman. He was very experienced, and we quickly were overtaking many of the other boats. I looked behind and realised that he wasn’t pulling the oars with his hands but pushing them with his bare feet. It makes sense; our leg muscles are far stronger than our arms. It does look strange though.
We sailed along the Ngo Dong River, with kingfishers and herons hunting for lunch.
As we glided around the corner, we could see the Dragon on top of Hang Mua which we visited two days ago.
Our journey was taking us through Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba, three flooded limestone cave systems through the domed karsts with ancient old ribbons of stalactites giving fabulous ceiling decorations. Our driver carefully steered so we didn’t bump our heads on any of these mineral rocks.
When we got through the first tunnel, Laulau pointed to the tree-covered hills to our left and shouted “King Kong”.
I had received a WhatsApp from Georgia, our son’s girlfriend, and she mentioned that we would be going to the same place they did over two years ago where King Kong was filmed. I wondered what she meant – this explains it.
After the third tunnel, we stopped at the river edge, and our rower became our photographer, giving us instructions to get the best snapshots. No other boat stopped for this extra service.
On our way back we stopped by the floating market selling snacks, drinks and fruit. One of the women suggested we bought Laulau a can of juice. As we got our money out, she added some nuts and fruit and charged us more. How could we refuse? He was giving us a great trip.
When we reached the King Kong vicinity, to our surprise, Laulau rowed to the bank, climbed out and insisted that we followed him. Climbing up rocks and rickety bamboo ladders we got to a ledge with fabulous views of the river and line of boats below. He then turned back into the chief photographer, telling us where to pose, and clicked probably over 100 photos of Tania and us! “No more” we cried and precariously climbed back down the cliff into our boat.
Between us, we decided to give Laulau some extra money. No other rower was offering their customers such attentive service and the three of us chatted about how lucky we were: the travel gods were looking down on us.
But before I could hand Laulau some money, he stopped rowing and asked for a tip. Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, so we were surprised and even more so when he got out a 200,000 dong note out of his wallet and informed us that's how much he wanted! We were not amused. Our ticket cost less than this. It did leave a bad taste in our mouths. Our usual tip in this kind of circumstance is "Don't eat yellow snow" but we were so shocked, it didn't spring to mind. Despite this, the trip was fabulous.
So, if you watch Kong: Skull Island, think of us sailing down the river, looking out for a giant gorilla and, of course, Samuel L Jackson.
And ending on a good note, Vietnam's football team won the SEA Games this evening. Vietnam: 1, Indonesia 0. Whoop, Whoop!