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Hang Hoa and Hang Hung in the Hang Thung Valley
The final trip of 2012 expedition was squeezed in to check the GPS co-ordinates of Hang Thung, last visited in '94 & to continue the exploration of Hang Hung. The plotting of the former on the map using the original co-ordinates made no hydrological sense & where clearly wrong, the latter having been left as an on-going lead from explorations undertaken prior to the arrival of the main body of the 2012 team.
Martin H, Mick & myself plus guides arrived around mid day at the idyllic, cliff-face, campsite overlooking the Hang Thung valley river only to discover that a major part of the sleeping kit (ie hammocks, bivi bags, insulation mats) had been left behind in the vehicle. Post-mortem discussion revealed one of the guides had been out with us on a previous trip & had retained an old Exped tackle bag. We were also using Exped bags for this trip &, whilst having counted the correct number out of the vehicle, had failed to take into account this additional "cuckoo" & so had left behind one of ours. Discussions ensued about what do before deciding to make the best of a bad deal & go caving, the campsite at least having a sandy floor & therefore we reckoned bearable for at least 1 insect riddled night.
We headed for Hang Hoa almost opposite the campsite but high up on the cliff face that soared above. Discovered in 2009 the bold cliff face climb and exposed traverse to reach the entrance was affectionately christened 'no place for daddies'. Armed with rope and a bolt kit the approach was made much safer this time. We donned wetsuits to explore the waiting lake, this was a bitterly cold swim with only occasional rests on rock but mostly trying to keep electronic survey kit out of the water on featureless undercut chamber walls. We reached a calcite beach with the only way on through a calcite obstruction. This led to a large terminal chamber with no obvious way on. A balcony did however give a spectacular view of the large entrance chamber and lake.
Meanwhile however, Howard L, upon discovering our remaining bag still in the vehicle, duly dispatched this to us via a hot-footed porter & with a, somewhat poorly received, pithy note questioning our competency in blunt, anglo-saxon vernacular. This arrived whilst we were surveying down Hang Hung. At least we were very grateful for the mosquito nets & hammocks.
Hang Hung was explored the following day, this was about 1k eastwards from the cliff camp & proved to be an old remnant passage of comfortable dimensions, approximately 350m length & with a second entrance about 200m in. Remains of pottery can be found inside the cave & these will presumably need excavating for dating at some future date. The cave is dry throughout, no obvious sign of any flowing water. It ends at a horizontal downwards squeeze that, whilst presently impassable, could soon be opened up following the judicious application of a lump hammer to remove some very sharp calcite nodules. Whether this would prove worthwhile is a moot point, there being no obvious draught, but you never know.
The next day it became clear that a 3rd expected new cave didn't actually exist or, if it did, it's whereabouts where at least another 1.5 days walk away. The day was spent visiting the entrance to the 3.3k long Hang Thung. The original co-ordinates had been derived from an estimated map position taken in 1992, pre-GPS. This proved out by a couple of k's , a col & a valley, the actual entrance being plotted as being exactly where logic had dictated it must be rather than where it was shown on the map. A leisurely exploration of the beautiful entrance series, past a 2nd daylight shaft entrance, ended at a 20m pitch down into water.
A final festering afternoon, sultry night ensued before packing up & making a welcome return to Son Trach, flights home being due in 48hrs time.