Published on : Thursday, January 21, 2021
Gigantic rock formations of the size of multi-storey buildings appear above Ho Minh Phuc, as he makes a path through the gloom inside the world’s largest cave.
Phuc had earned a living through unlawful logging, being a porter for the small tour groups that explore Vietnam’s Son Doong, which is a cave so large that it has its own ecosystem and weather patterns.
The cave is home to flying foxes and a 70-meter rock formation that looks like a dog’s paw. The cave is an ethereal wonder that has redefined the lives of the nearby community ever since opening for boutique tourism in 2013. Due to poverty, people like Phuc had no choice but to search in the depths of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – the World Heritage site where Son Doong lies.
They searched for precious agarwood – a highly sought-after material widely used for manufacturing incense. Others made a living by hunting endangered civets and porcupines in the forest.
“We had to do all we could to avoid the forest rangers. We did nothing good for nature,” said 35-year-old Phuc.
Son Doong in central Quang Binh province was first found by a local forager. The cave is large enough to accommodate the 40-floor skyscrapers of an entire New York City block.
After the cave opened for tourists, the locals became porters and guides, opening their homes to tourists who looked for a bed for a night.
Tags: Vietnam's Son Doong