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Recce of downstream Dai Giang
I’m usually sick going on boats; I hate the English Channel and even more, the Irish Sea. So when Howard had split the group up and I was and I was in the river party, well! We arrived at the jetty, a simple concrete slab next to the river and awaited our boat. Picture a boat the shape of a banana split lengthways made from the remains an American airlines held together by bits of wood. The tiny propeller on the end of a long drive shaft was powered by a Honda 7.0hp engine. This was to be our vessel for the two hour journey downstream and more importantly two hours back upstream. We took two boats and set off. This was brilliant, the water was deep and we shot a number of rapids.
The next rapids were shallow, being the heaviest I was sat at the rear of the boat and felt every boulder through my backside as we scraped painfully over the river bed. There was no point in asking for sympathy as I couldn’t expect any. The scenery more than made up for the discomfort, limestone cliffs towered above the jungle scenic little villages littered the river bank. We approached a sandy shoreline and our military guide instructed us to clamber out. A little puzzled we jumped out and followed him, hopping over boulders and passing through some scrub to rejoin the river and discover the reason why we were out of the boat. Ahead the river powered down a series of rapids with drops over a metre deep. The boatmen skillfully navigated their way through the drops as we watched in amazement and met us a little further downstream.
As we continued downstream we passed more spectacular scenery, the tops of the cliffs lost in the cloud above. Below the rapids the river deepened and the flow had slowed enough to allow much larger boats to use it. Some were used as homes and many were used for transporting stone from the quarries that were being worked close to the river bank. We knew when we had arrived at the cave as an obvious large entrance could be seen approximately fifteen metres above. The entrance was split in two by a beautiful rock arch and was easily reached by a scramble with the aid of a handline. We surveyed approximately 250 metres of passage to a superb looking sump. We named it birthday sump in recognition of Andy’s 21st birthday and nothing at all to do with Sweeny exposing all to an unsuspecting Miss Van when he searched the sump for a possible way on.
The sound of a possible stream could be heard or was it the sound of bats we couldn’t agree as to the source of the sound. Unable to find a way on Chris took some film footage but the experimental pan lids as reflectors did not work. We checked out a number of other leads but without success. On our way back we called in at the Forest mangers office for the usual Vietnamese hospitality to end a truly memorable day.