6 Dazzling Pictures from Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
This is one of the truly iconic pictures from our world travels. Up top.
Nothing screams Skull Island more than this snap from the park. Creeping fog, light drizzle, rocky karsts, forboding mountains and lush green jungle all but beckon King Kong to make an appearance.
Yes; they filmed scenes from Skull Island the movie a bit north of here in Ninh Binh, if this landscape looks familiar.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was a location added while we were on the road in Vietnam. We had never heard of the place until a gentleman noted this was a spot to see (story below).
After a bus ride to the area and a taxi ride to Ben’s homestay- aka the Phong Nha Farmstay – we set up the day long tour.
On waking, we were a wee disappointed. Rain and fog clouded the park.
But this made for dramatic, mysterious shots that are among some of the best I’ve snapped during our world travels.
Heart of Darkness?
I felt a bit like I stepped inside Joseph Conrad’s haunting novel.
More green, more mist, a heavy cloud bank, deep jungle, a winding stream and nothing else but a few tourists, a guide and vast wilderness.
Adding to the somber nature of the place, this park was the scene of some vicious battles during the Vietnam War. We even heard a story about a woman who kept an American soldier as a POW. A civilian woman. Had the guy’s helmet decades later.
Phong Nha cave? Son Doong cave? I am not sure.
I do know that one of these 2 massive caves is big enough for a boat to cruise in. Feels like a steam ship could do the trick, with the mind-blowing scale of this place.
Being one of the larger cave complexes on earth you could spend hours walking through this underground city, admiring the sites and sounds and smells (a bit rough but still fascinating?) and most of all, if you are a careless walker, you’d spend 4 hours pulling yourself up off of your ass after slipping on the ever-present moisture that seems to cling to stairs and tight corners.
Seriously; tread with caution here. Per SE Asian rules, guard rails ensure some safety but you really need to look out for yourself to avoid falling into the abyss. And to avoid cave trolls too.
Even during a cloudy, murky day, the emerald green shade brilliantly screams at your peepers.
Note the cows providing a sense of contrast on the small island within the impossibly pristine waters.
Either they wanted to form a sense of contrast, being loyal photograph subjects, or the vegetation was especially lush on the mini island.
I am going with the former.
Karsts dominate this region of Vietnam.
The rocky, primitive-looking outcroppings are common throughout all of SE Asia, from Myanmar to Thailand to Vietnam, all the way over to the Philippines.
Kelli and I gazed upon the karsts carpeted with dense foliage, wondering how the visa process would shake out when traveling to Skull Island.
I am going. Mark my words.
Or homestay bound.
The road is lonely in this remote region of northern central Vietnam. Nothing doing for miles around, save a few quiet villages and Ben’s rocking homestay.
We heard of this homestay and the legendary tour from a guy in Hoi An. Said guy was an expat who had traveled all over Southeast Asia, and said guy was an old white guy who said Ben’s homestay tour was the best thing he did in all of SE Asia, better than Angkor Wat or anything.
Said guy was also a drug dealer we later found out.
Hey; he pointed us in the right direction as this was one of the more fun, wild tours we’ve ever done during our 6 years of circling the globe.