Dark Cave Vietnam

Situated along or somewhere near the ho chi min trail is Dark Cave Vietnam. The tourist bus picks the tourists up from various hotels near and around Dong Hoi and takes them to DARK Cave Vietnam. The tourist bus driver smokes cigarettes and drinks red bull. The tourists who get to ride in the tourist bus receive a complimentary bottle of mineral water. The tour guide stands at the front of the tourist bus and periodically speaks about how many bombs were dropped from aeroplanes onto the Ho Chi Minh trail. How there are many dangerous snakes which live in the jungle alongside the road the tourist bus is driving on. How locals sometimes decapitate the snake heads and drink the blood of snakes. For more light-hearted conversation the tour guide talks about how many people in Vietnam own and ride scooters.

When the tour guide is not educating the tourists about Vietnam the tourists talk amongst themselves. Because the tour company taking people to Dark Cave Vietnam marketed the trip as an extreme experience for the adventure seeker all the people going to dark cave are barely out of secondary school. For me Dark Cave Vietnam is an opportunity to see the world through the lens of an adult who seeks refuge in an extreme adventure, which has a similar trajectory to a school excursion.

Different tour companies market the extremity and danger of Dark Cave Vietnam in different ways. I am pretty sure all the tour companies feature complimentary mineral water, a driver who smokes cigarettes and drinks red bull and a tour guide who talks about all the bombs that were dropped on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

The tourist buses start piling into the Dark Cave Vietnam parking lot. Because many tourist buses arrive shortly before or after one and another there is a wait for all the different tour groups to get into Dark Cave Vietnam.

Next to the Dark Cave Vietnam parking lot, on the adjoining property is a building which looks and functions like a protectory, a shanty town full of decrepit families or a missionary. Outside the building, on the adjoining property, near the entry to Dark Cave Vietnam! is a roadside shop, which sells sugar cane juice, coca-cola and peanuts. The shop is staffed by the children from the protectory and a random adult, who seemingly has some sort of caring responsibility for the children from the protectory.

Entrance into Dark Cave Vietnam would probably be more than a months wage for the local residents.
The children from the protectory from spend their time trying to sell peanuts to the tourists waiting in the Dark Cave Vietnam parking lot for the tour guide to tell them it is time to go into Dark Cave Vietnam. Employees of Dark Cave Vietnam periodically scare the children away by shouting at them and waving broomsticks at them in such a way that the children are fearful that they might be hit with a broomstick by an angry adult employed by Dark Cave Vietnam. The children run back to the adjoining property and seek refuge near the road side store which sells sugar cane juice, coca cola and peanuts.

After passing the ticket booth in an orderly fashion and putting a life jacket-on to get into Dark Cave Vietnam the tourists are faced with three options; sit in a canoe and paddle over to dark cave, swim in the very tranquil waters over to dark cave or zoom down to dark cave on Vietnam’s biggest and most exceptional zip line. Because Dark Cave Vietnam is marketed for extreme adventure seekers most of the tourists dutifully line-up and wait for their turn to zoom down the zip line. The whole attraction of Dark Cave Vietnam is to supposedly bathe in mud, inside a dark cave. Whilst bathing in mud you’re supposed to experience a heightened sense of self, cleanse your skin and evoke your senses in an unconventional way. It is hard to do so because there’s about 8 different tour groups of extreme adventure seekers in the Dark Cave Vietnam. To emphasise just how extreme Dark cave Vietnam is one extreme adventure tourists even beat-boxes….after experiencing the actual cave the ‘Dark Cave Vietnam’ facility has based its name around it is time to swim or canoe back to the Dark Cave Vietnam parking lot.

In Vietnam things are either over-the top regulated or completely unregulated. Swimming back to the Dark Cave vietnam parking lot, frustrated with the life-jacket not fitting properly and not serving a functional purpose beyond keeping me afloat in tranquil waters I can stand-in I remove the life jacket. The lifeguard employed by Dark Cave Vietnam furiously blows his whistle. You are not allowed to swim in the tranquil waters without a life jacket. There are stern looks from the lifeguard employed by Dark Cave Vietnam.

Waiting in the Dark Cave Vietnam parking lot I am informed by the extreme adventure seeker tour guide that it will be 30 minutes until the tourist bus will be taking the tourists back to Dong Hoi. I sit in the shade near the entrance protectory. The children from the protectory ascend onto me and say ‘money chocolate’ numerous times. Sometimes there is a bit of theatre in it all, a bit of humility. A girl from the protectory looks about 10, she is wearing a tattered, ragged, dirty dress, which was once snow white and not covered in dirt. She deviates from the ‘money chocolate’ request to inform me she is 15. She exhibits sexualised body language. Knowing it would take me years to unpack the full extent of the depravity of the human condition, perpetuated and exacerbated by discrepancy of wealth I seek momentary refuge in self-assurance that my conscience is clear.

Because waiting in the Dark Cave Vietnam parking lot is hot, dusty and oppressive I feel like an ice-cream. Because I have become accustomed to the charisma of the children from the protectory I buy them ice-creams too. The ice cream freezer at Dark Cave Vietnam has a padlock on it so the children from the protectory do not steal ice-creams. The Dark Cave Vietnam employee unlocks the ice-cream freezer and intently watches to ensure no ice-creams are stolen. The Dark Cave Vietnam employee smiles at me. It seems that not everyday the children from the protectory are able to convince a tourist to buy them ice-creams.

I sit in the Dark Cave Vietnam parking lot, eating my ice-cream, enjoying some respite. Ice-cream for all. The children from the protectory are much like cats lapping up milk. No matter how many times a cat laps up milk it always looks like their first time.

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