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Hang A Cu
In the last stages of the 2005 expedition a chance came up to visit the southern most area of the Hang Vom catchments area. Previously we had problems with permission in this area but now all was sorted and we were able to return for a short time to check out the caves near a cave discovered in1997 called Hang En.
The Ho Chi Minh trail is now much improved and only 2 hours of bumping around in our jeeps from base camp and we were at the military checkpoint with all the required permissions and ready for a few days in the jungle with our guides.
We obtained 2 Ruc people who knew the area and we set off on our 3 hour walk in to Hang En where we would set up camp. We stopped in the main river valley to see the Ruc people who are still living in caves for part of the year. It was a great privilege to be able to visit these wonderful people and seeing them live so close to nature. The Ruc people are the smallest minority tribe in Vietnam and the numbers are around 220. The Vietnamese government is now trying to assist this minority tribe with help with food and accommodation. We were shown the hunting techniques using catapult to kill birds and in fact had a go with absolutely no chance of success ourselves. The children were very impressed with our British sweets especially wine gums. They also watched us swimming and found us and our equipment very amusing. We had to say goodbye to and venture further in the jungle with our guides. This involved going through a cave Ruc Caroon a huge river cave discovered in 1992 as the short cut was much easier than going over the hills in the dense jungle.
After 2 more hours of walking we were finally at Hang En. This enormous cave was to be our base for the next day or so. The cave is the topmost known cave of the Hang Vom system and certainly one of the largest entrances we have found in the whole of Vietnam. It is the home of a few thousand swifts which provided much entertainment in the night by shitting on us from a great height.
Only 20 minutes walk from Hang En we were taken to a cave called Hang A Cu. Even though the entrance is 50m x 30m we were unable to find it without guides. The entrance had a cool wind coming from it so we set off eager to have a chance of exploring such a fine cave in this wonderful area. Hang A Cu is 650m long and is very well decorated along its length. It finished sin a complete stal choke and somewhere along its main passage you lose the draught. The cave is extremely beautiful and the fabulous smooth floor and enormous stals everywhere kept us all whooping during its initial discovery. The cave is fairly linear but does show what potential for major caves exist in this remote area.
The next day starting at an unearthly early time of 5am we were shown another cave around 30 minutes walk from Hang En. This cave turned out to be just an overhang in a huge limestone cliff. In the meantime 2 of us managed to photograph Hang ACu for the record. We were told of many other caves in the area but many hours walk away. This area has much potential for further cave exploration and with the wonderful Ruc people as guides would be a prime objective for the next expedition. Deeper camps further in the jungle would be required to enable us to continue exploration in this amazing landscape. We plan to return on the next expedition to continue our work in this area.