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Deep into the lushing jungle of Quang Binh there’s a pure gift from Mother Earth – Son Doong Cave (or “Mountain River” Cave). The name was given in awe of the gigantic size of the cave, which enables it to contain a river, a jungle, and a totally offbeat climate.
In 1990, a Vietnamese logger named Ho Khanh, trying to find shelter in a cave while hunting, felt a blast of wind and heard the babbling flow of a river. Contrary to what you might expect, the logger did not take any further action since the cave mouth was thickly covered in bushes and foliage.
It was not until 2009 that the British Cave Research Association (BCRA), having heard the tale of Ho Khanh’s mythical discovery, finally paid a visit to Quang Binh. The team has so far measured Son Doong to reach 150 meters (490 feet) in depth and 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) in length. To give you a better idea, a 40-floor building can fit perfectly inside Son Doong.
It is not just about the size
Spectacular, flabbergasting, overwhelming, absolutely unprecedented… What else can we praise about Son Doong?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Mother Earth never fails to amaze us. Son Doong stores an enormous treasure of limestone, smaller caverns, charming stalactites, river crossings, marvellous jungles as well as the diversity of wildlife. The BCRA team was astonished not only at how unbelievably large the cave is but also at its stunning natural ecosystem. Son Doong might genuinely be something out of a myth.
Now your turn
As of now, Oxalis Adventure is the only qualified and legally permitted company to organize visits for tourists. In addition to a very high entrance fee, the annual number of tourists coming to Son Doong is limited. Even though Oxalis team takes the responsibility to guarantee your safety, campers are advised to prepare a good health. If none of the above is an obstacle for you, get up and a whole new magical world will soon appear in front of your bare eyes.
Under threat of a cable car system
If you are a Venetian, you know better than me how mass tourism is a double-edged sword. Son Doong is so charming that it does not elude the interest of big corporations. A plan was considered to develop a cable car system inside the cave. Yes, you read that right. Inside.
The proposed ten-kilometer construction was to be developed by Sun Group – one of the largest investors in holiday resorts, attraction parks and luxuxy real estate in Vietnam. Unquestionably, the Vietnamese youth won’t let Sun Group make a Disneyland out of Son Doong. The cable car project might bring about a lucrative tourism industry, yet it lacks the capacity to compensate for the backlash towards the fragile nature.
Quang Binh’s Deputy Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Van Ky, made an official announcement on April, 9th, 2014 that this proposal won’t be authorized by the local government.
Tran Tien Dung, Vice-president of Quang Binh People’s Committee, emphasized: “As this is the centerpiece of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, we will always be extremely conscious of any movements regarding the place. The rule is no man-made construction.”
However, the authorities seem to be inconsistent with their statements given the reality that Sun Group somehow, later, manage to get the authority to “investigate” the cave for their investment. Little information has been given about how far this plan goes at the moment.
Yet, under any circumstances, a giant cable car system is constructed inside Son Doong, Sun Group and the local government must be aware of the fact that they are violating protection legislation given that Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003.
To oppose the cable car construction, a campaign is getting underway headed by Le Nguyen Thien Huong (or “Cavegirl”) to put pressure on Sun Group by decrying its destructive intentions via social media. Their aim is not just to save the world’s largest cave but most importantly to advocate for transparency in governmental decision-making processes.
Huong’s Save Son Doong Facebook page, for instance, has gained thousands of followers after a short period of time. Fierce passion has allowed her to win a spot at TEDx event in Hanoi in June, 2018. Huong not only fought to protect the pristine beauty of Son Doong but furthermore challenged political clarification in Vietnam.
The project has drawn a great attention from the national and even international public to go against this corportation. Until now, 74,108 signatures were recorded on an online petition to call upon local government giving up their agreement.
That said, the final outcome is yet to come.
Beyond all doubts, Mother Nature is creative. She gave birth to Son Doong – this irresistible detached beauty. It’s hailed as the God’s gift to Vietnamese people, hence, nobody can go against this divine order to impair this natural wonder.