The Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park management has promised to investigate a foreign tourist’s claim of being attacked by a tour guide while trying to get back a camera she had lost in a cave.
Hoang Hai Van, the park’s deputy director, told the media that he would take strict action against anyone found to have committed wrongdoing.
Earlier the media had picked up claims made by British tourist Kelly Emma Kirsty about the alleged assault on TripAdvisor last month.
She visited Hang Toi (Dark Cave) in Phong Nha Ke Bang on an organized tour booked through Phong Nha hostel.
When kayaking, she dropped her GoPro camera near the water edge.
“The staff seemed so genuinely upset for me and the reception girls asked me to leave my personal details so they could contact me if one of their divers found the camera,” she later wrote on TripAdvisor.
“I didn't expect them to find it and forgot all about it thinking it was my mistake dropping it.”
She went back to the hostel and her tour guide later told her that the staff at the caves had found her camera and could return it to her at the hostel.
A man she did not know from the cave or tour arrived at the hostel and demanded VND3.2 million (£86) for returning the camera.
“When I questioned him about where he got the camera from and the price he was demanding he got really irate and started shouting at me.
“He claimed the staff at Phong Nha caves had sold it to him and therefore I had to pay the stated price.”
When she insisted the amount was too much, the man started attacking her, throwing her against a wall twice, ripping her top off and raising his fist.
“In the end I just begged him to get off me and leave me alone so I paid him in full. He left me with cuts and bruises.”
Kirsty later found that several men had posed for selfies on her camera and did not delete them.
“I had a great day at the caves but obviously this incident left me feeling very upset and disappointed in the staff,” she said.
Her review was purely to warn others about the staff working at the Phong Nha Dark caves/zipline, she wrote.
“The actual location and activities on offer are very good and reasonable so I do not want to put people off going but please be aware and look after your property.”
The park management has confirmed that the man who returned the camera to Kirsty is Nguyen Manh Hung, a tour guide at Phong Nha Farmstay, which belongs to the provincial tourism department.
Hung told Tuoi Tre newspaper that he had bought the camera from Khanh, who works at the cave, for VND3 million.
After seeing the photos, he found its owner and wanted to collect from her the amount he had paid Khanh, he said.
“Because I paid for the camera, I needed to get back my money. However, the tourist disagreed.
“After she snatched the camera and put it in her bag, I tried to take back the camera and she fell on the ground while being pulled.”
Hung also admitted he was the half-naked man in the selfies.
“I feel at fault for this.”
Khanh confirmed that he had found the camera while diving for a hat.
However, he said he did not deliberately sell the camera.
“After finding [the camera], I had Hung check the photos but did not tell him I was selling.
“Hung took it home before paying me VND2 million, saying he was buying it. I told him I was not selling, but he just said he was buying.
“Finally, I told him I would take VND1.5 million for diving.”
But Hung also paid him the remaining VND500,000, he said.
Van, the deputy director, said, “Any official or employee at Phong Nha has to report to relevant agencies when they find items lost by tourists and return to them.”
“Hung failed to act like a proper tour guide.”