Paradise Cave / Cambodia Calling (December 23rd – 28th)

Grrrr. You know when you spend ages wording everything just the way you want it, and then you lose it all? Well that just happened. So enjoy reading a rough unedited version of this post….
———-

To visit paradise cave we had to take part in a tour of Phong Nha National Park. We opted for the back of the motorbike option as opposed to the jeep ‘cos it sounded more fun. The entrance to the park was like something straight out of Jurassic Park. Paradise cave was only discovered in 2005, and opened to the public just last year. It was everything I hoped it would be. Well, it was huge but it could have been a little bit bigger. Apparently Deer Cave in Borneo is big enough to fly a jumbo through it. Take that Paradise. No, it wasn’t that big (probabaly more suitable to fly Aquila through it), but it was the magical stalagtite and mite formations which really made this cave. Think many many 15+metre high collages of hyper-intricate mushroom/corals, pterodactyls, Elephant Man faces and strange geometries from the surrealist art world and you are getting close. That this cave wasn’t lit up like a disco was a welcome change from many of the other show caves I have seen. The wooden walkway they had built was pretty professional too.

It was heard not to imagine being the first person to discover this cave. What an incredible experience that must have been. But the reality of actually searching for caves like this through dense forest would be hard work if nothing else. Bug of the month, you may remember, died a sorry death after entering Iran and the internet lulz of Central Asia and China. Well had it continued then Vietnam would be miles ahead in the Best Bug polls. Barely a day passes here when you don’t see some sort of strange insect….

A 5.30AM bus would take me from the Farmstay to the ancient imperial capital Hue where I would rejoin Herbert and Philip in time for the Christmas celebrations. The Christmas party at the hostel was everything you imagine it would be. What a climax Brown Eyes nightclub proved to be….  Hue itself was moderately interesting. The citadel was impressive to see, but it definitely lacked the X-factor. Tens of drone tourists were enjoying the thrills of donning traditional attire and moping around the empty courtyards in the drizzle. Much more interesting were the tanks, helicopters, and war planes on display in the military museum next door. It would have been good to check out the demiltarized zone, not least the famous Vinh Moc tunnels, but time-wise it just didn’t fit with my plans. You see those Finnish girls back at the farmstay planted a seed….

After I learned of the 7 day trance party happening in Cambodia there was only ever going to be one place I would spend this most exciting of New Years: Brown Eyes Cambodia. Ditched were plans for Savanakhet and and the snore factor 5000 Four Thousand Islands in Laos. In their place are plans to see in 2012 the only way it should be seen in: a banging trance party! Yes 2012 is nearly upon us. The year we have all been subconsciously waiting for. The year when novelty will reach such cataclysmic levels that we collectively tear a new hole in the space-time-socio-politico-technologico-transcendento-complex.

It’s amazing how far you can cycle when you set your mind to it. One day I woke up in Hue, set off at lunch time, and 24hours later I found myself 1000km South in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as it’s still more commonly referred to. The 20km cycle to a bus station on the other side of town was a blast. If Hanoi was suffering from an infestation of scooters and mopeds, then the situation in Saigon is of epidemic proportions. It would have been fun to hang around to see what the city had to offer. If you are into flashing lights and 1,000,001 cafes then Saigon would be hard to leave. Time, however, dictated that I make my way South on the double to make it to Cambodia. So last night I stayed in a hotel in Rach Gia in the South of Vietnam and today I cycled 90km nice n easy against a healthy headwind to Ha Tien – the final town before I cross the boder into Cambodia tomorrow morning. The temperature here must be up around 30C. With the assistance of the combustion engine I am finally in a place where I can say that it is definitely now shorts and T-shirt weather again. It felt amazing to cycle along the coast just 10metres away from the sea in places. Strange too cycling West towards the sunset for the first time since leaving. There are 150km to the festival site so if everything goes to plan I should arrive lunchtime after tomorrow. Aint no rush now, just gonna roll nice and easy in the warm sunshine…

What a year 2011  has proven to be. Not the cycle tour although that’s been pretty fun too, but the goings-on in the world at large. The riots, the uprisings, the revolutions, all the stories that have come to light… so much has happened it’s been nearly impossible to keep on top of it all. This quote from the keynote speech at last year’s C.C.C. sums things up pretty well: ‘Most of today’s politicians realise that nobody in their ministries, or any of their expensive consultants, can tell them what is going on any more. They have a steering wheel in their hands without a clue what – if anything – it is connected to. Our leaders are reassuring us that the ship will certainly survive the growing storm. But on closer inspection they are either quietly pocketing the silverware or discreetly making their way to the lifeboats.’

The lifeboat I will be choosing this NYE will be that of Quetzalcoatl, who will lead those of us who follow him to unparalleled higher dimensions. For those of you in the UK, you will be celebrating the countdown more or less the same time the sun will be coming up here (give or take a few hours or something) so there’s a fair to good chance I will still be up. To this extent I will celebrate it with you all a second time over. =S So that’s more than enough drivel for this final post of 2011 (and the hotel whose Wifi im rinsing just gave me the boot) so on that note Happy New Year to you all and, more importantly, see you in the New Paradigm!!! XXXXXXXXXX

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5 Responses to Paradise Cave / Cambodia Calling (December 23rd – 28th)

  1. blengineer says:

    Talan – Apologies beam profusely (and apologetically) from my corner of the world to yours. I read half a post around about May and then nothing until December. I have read the entire blog front to back in a few weeks. And I, like everyone else, am hugely impressed but not surprised by your incredible mission and eloquence in recapturing it. Thanks for the mention. I’m sure you were mortified when I didn’t reply (!) But yes, you did tell me so and I’ll remember that trick for my own further cycle adventures in the future. Your ‘longest day yet’ trademark is possibly my favourite anecdote contained within the finely worded and comprehensive travel diary of yours and Olga’s trip; possibly only beaten by the use of glossolalial, or the VIP taxi driver blag. Brilliant. Your persuasiveness in getting into the library and the lake was the epitome of once in a lifetime chances grasped, and obviously the kindness of the people with the keys to the kingdoms was amazing. Seems hard to imagine anyone would peel back the red tape and health and safety to risk letting you do anything of the sort over here.
    And for this final post of 2011 I salute you even more – annoying that you lost the original, polished version, yes, but I think we all get the gist, that, indeed what a year it has been and what a way you have spent it. London was incredibly mild over New Year’s Eve/Day, and my clubbing experience was very lame. Bad choice. Can’t wait to hear your telling of the trance tale… Dylan

  2. Ben Vallack says:

    Happy new year Talan! Going to try and catch up on your amazing tales, your travels sound extraordinary! All the best.

  3. Hey Talan you pooner! hope you are well. Howart told me you had a very amusing and interesting blog so thought I would look it up! Have only had a chance to read a couple of posts but will definitely be back to work through the backlog and look forward to your first post of the new year! Perhaps you are still trancing your face off in Cambodia, forever stuck in a vortex of dance. We’ll see! Laura (Muldoon)

  4. Great reading, looking forward to another update soon xxx

  5. Helen Wood says:

    Hi Talan,
    It’s Helen as in Wood of Ofsted fame! Can’t believe your still coming back to the Sted??? Cambodia is great, hope you get involved in the happy herb pizzas – fun!!! x

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