Galaxy Grotto

Oct 07, 2013 in

In Nimh Binh in Vietnam, I heard about that there is quite an impressive cave 25km from the city. This was a great opportunity to try out a new flashlight I bought. Since the cave wasn’t mentioned in my travel guide or any map I had, it turned out to be more difficult than imagined to get there. Mainly because I completely underestimated the distance to the cave:

On the first day, I attempted to go there by bicycle after I visited a few other spots that I only found out about by looking at my offline-version of the openstreetmap.
To reach there, I had to go about 15 kilometres on national highway 1A (and then another 10 km to the cave) with the bicycle, which was quite stressful as the highway is quite busy with trucks and one has to evade pedestrians and other motos and bikes coming from the opposite direction (but driving on the wrong side of the highway) all the time.

It took so much time that on reaching Tam Diep, I decided to give up because I calculated that I will never reach the cave and come back from the cave before dark. Urk, so 15km back on the highway. It was the right decision though because as it turned out the cave is even further away than I thought and also one cannot just go in there by oneself but has to get a guide and a boat from the ferry boat station. Something that wouldn’t have been available at 8 o’clock in the night.

So, on the second day, I got a mototaxi to take me there and back. Since I chartered the ferry and guide (I was the only one there) that took me through the cave, it was okay that I took the mototaxi driver with me :-).

The first cave, the Galaxy Grotto, was well lit (in the sense that it looked nice, not that it was bright) which made the photos look halfway sharp but also dimmed the effect of the flashlight on the photo.

By the time we entered the second cave (Buddha cave), which was not lighted, the inner lens of my camera was so fogged from the humidity in the previous cave that I couldn’t make proper photos anymore. Given the quality of my snapshot-camera and the fact that we were on a moving boat, I probably couldn’t have anyway.

And, I mapped it! As most other things I encounter during my travels actually but anyhow.

In case you don’t know about it yet, there have been added two improvements on which make it much easier to contribute to the map recently:

  1. There is an easy-to-use HTML5 in-browser editor for openstreetmap now called iD.
  2. Without registering, it is possible to add notes to the map (e.g. “this road is a oneway street south”, “the bridge is called XYZ”), much like the discussion tab in the Wikipedia

It is only a matter of time now until you can add these notes to the map using popular apps for your smartphone.