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 Beautiful stalactites and stalagmites inside the new cave in Bac Kan Province

Caves always carry an aura of mystery and wonder about them.

We were reminded of that very strongly when we visited a newly found cave in the northern province of Bac Kan.

The stalactites and stalagmites of different shapes and colors were mesmerizing.

And because of its "newness," our trip to the inside of a mountain near the Ang Toong Pass in Bac Kan Town's Xuat Hoa Commune was also a memorable adventure.

Nguyen Duy Nghia, a Bac Kan Museum official, was one of the first experts to explore the cave. He led us to the mouth of the cave and introduced us to Nong Van Le, who belongs to the Tay ethnic minority.

Le, a native of Xuat Hoa Commune, led us all the way down to the deepest place in the cave. He said he was the first person who dared to climb down and fumble around in the dark to explore the tunnels in the cave where he found lots of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

There are places where water keeps coming out from cracks in the rock on the floor or sides of the tunnels. The cave has not been under strict protection, so some people have cut some stalactites and stalagmites to sell. So the authorities have responded by covering most of the mouths to the cave to prevent further destruction.

At the entrance that we took, there was a large open space with a great arch. Even in the dim light, we could see how beautiful it was.

There are at least three large mouths and several small openings for people to enter the cave and go through the tunnels in different directions.

Le dropped one end of a rope of about 50 meters in length to enable us to climb and explore the different tunnels which he said were about 350 meters long, sloping down to as low as the bottom of the Cau River. That is, they are about 60 meters from the mouth of the cave.

We have explored several caves, including the Pu Sam Cap Cave, thought to be the best cave in the northwestern province of Lai Chau, but we were surprised at the beautiful features in this one.

At times, we had to move on our hands and knees to get through some narrow parts of the tunnels; and at times, we had to use the rope to go down to a lower part. The rocks in the cave were wet but they were not slippery.

Soon it became very hard to progress and some of us almost gave up when we had covered about half of the distance. But finally, we all managed to arrive at a place considered the most beautiful spot in the cave.

The arched roof of that space was about 20 meters across and about seven meters high. The rocks were in different colors.

There were rocks which looked like leaves placed one on top of another. When we tapped them slightly with our fingers, they produced sounds like what a lithopone. Le said it was not the end of the cave because there were many other tunnels and he didn't know how far they went.

Tourism potential

According to Nghia, provincial authorities have conducted an initial survey and have plans to protect the stalactites and stalagmites from being destroyed by the locals.

The official said the tunnels in the cave were beautiful and different from other caves in Vietnam because the rocks were of different colors; and the stalactites and stalagmites were splendorous.

Some stalactites looked like big white ropes hanging down from the roof. There were also rocks of different shapes and sizes on the walls of the cave.

Nghia said he didn't dare to compare it with other caves around the country because only specialized people can evaluate and classify it; but he had no hesitation saying it was the most splendid cave in Bac Kan.

Nghia said he has made a report to the Bac Kan People's Committee and the provincial authority had sent a document to specialized agencies that will conduct more studies before making plans to preserve this precious gift of nature.

The cave has great potential for tourism development, especially adventure tours because the cave is less than 15 kilometers from the center of Bac Kan Town, Nghia said.

It is also spacious enough inside, so there is plenty of oxygen for large groups of visitors, he added.

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