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After a long days walk by Howard and Robbie two caves had been earmarked. A visit to the area around the village of Lung Phua was organised. From here a ‘pleasant’ walk over a Col dropped us into a large enclosed valley. At the sink we felt at and saw at first hand the draught from the entrance with the inflation of a survival bag as seen on the digital camera from the recce trip. From here the team split into two groups, Watto, Snablet and Sweeny set off for the resurgence. Following Howard’s instructions we trekked up the river to a point where Snablet did a John Smiths ‘bomby’, managing to keep the GPS dry. A little further on we were rewarded with a superb view of the resurgence entrance. Sweeny however was not impressed, “Ive been here before” he said as we approached, recognising the reeds and grass growing in the entrance. We were at the bottom end of Nguom Cang.

We retreated to the sink and set off after the others. A short length of boulder stream passage led down to a small climb into a large stream way, daylight could be seen upstream. Downstream swimming and wading in a huge tunnel we finally caught up with the others only to be told that the way on choked after a low airspace. Sweeny, Deb and Andy continued to look for a way on whilst Watto and Snablet pushed rifts chasing draughts only to be stopped by unstable boulders.

Returning to Howard and co we decided to bin it, so someone needed to tell the rest. “Watto go and tell them to bin it”, they volunteered ‘THE THINGS I DO FOR BRITISH CAVING’. Watto met Deb coming back through the low airspace duck to be told they had found a bit of a way on, we then exited the cave. Howard, Deb, Robbie and Snablet went to confirm that the resurgence was Nguom Cang. After a while Sweeny and Andy reappeared, announcing that they had found a very large passage or chamber with boulders half the size of houses. Woody and Watto were impressed, as the only thing Sweeny was taking any notice of was Kylie. We decided to have a look and to continue surveying. We decided that we were in a large chamber and that the best way was to survey around it, ‘laugh!’ it was very big. We eventually surveyed round to a type of head wall at the opposite side of the chamber, traversing along this we reached a passage. This turned out to be short, ending at a pitch with the sound of a river at the bottom. As we had no gear it would have to wait. Returning to the chamber we continued traversing around.

A short distance further we entered another passage, this led to a small drop and looking up a small sliver of light could be seen, was this finally China! Time was against us so a retreat was made, we had fun in the chamber trying to locate the way out. We named the chamber 40k in recognition of the expedition total.

The following morning the team returned minus Andy who was suffering with the runs. Our aim today was to survey out to daylight, photo 40k chamber and look for other leads. Things don’t always go as planned. After climbing down the small climb towards the light we entered a nice stal covered floor passage, unfortunately this ended a short distance further at a pitch down to a dry middle level. Over the top of the pitch was a steep ramp. Woody ascended this but was stopped by a very bold step around a buttress with a passage beyond to daylight but beyond our reach.


Back in 40k chamber Watto, alias David Bailey was trying to remember all the distances Andy and Howard had told him for using the large flash bulbs. Anyway, it seemed to work because when I shouted “flash” it looked very nice, so it’s not that hard (P.S. I haven’t seen the results yet)! After this the rest of the trip became very vague as I started suffering the effects of the heat and dehydration, thanks to Woody and Sweeny for the help getting me out.

Luang Van was a superb cave, 831.6m was surveyed with an undescended pitch. I think we will need a Chinese interpreter if that goes.


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