02/07/2019 10:54 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Ta Nam Long’s caving adventures

Ta Nam Long has explored caves across the country from the northernmost point of Lung Cu in Ha Giang to the southernmost point of Mui Ca Mau in Ca Mau. Long has been in 30 large and deep caves in Vietnam, including those difficult to reach, like Doc Nan, Dia Nguc and Ong.
Ta Nam Long was born in Hanoi to a family which has the tradition of studying medicine. He came in first in the graduation exam of Hanoi Medical University, but Long decided to work in the technology sector and spends his spare time spelunking.

Proficient in English, Long studies caving on the internet and connects with international caving associations to gain skill and experience. With the knowledge of a medical university graduate, Long does exercises to increase his physical fitness. This allows him to be able to overcome such challenges as swimming in cold water or go under swift-flowing waterfalls to reach the deepest caves. He can also give first aid to himself and his teammates in case of accidents along the way.

With experiences of a cave explorer who has explored hundreds of caves across the country, Long has set up Vietnam Caving Association (VCA) which has more than 4,000 young members. It is a non-profit organization where cave explorers can share experiences and join long expedition trips.

 Ta Nam Long in his  caving clothing. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Ta Nam Long was rescued after two days in Cong Nuoc in Lai Chau, the deepest cave in Vietnam. Photo: Files

Long has suffered many accidents during his caving adventures. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Together with VCEA members, Long has made numerous trips to caves around Vietnam, with unforgettable experiences, including hunger, cold, injuries and getting lost.

Long has endured such tough destinations as Suoi Can cave in Thanh Hoa, Dia Nguc cave in Ha Giang, and Hut cave in Son La. To reach Suoi Can cave, Long had to go through several mountains, entering the cave from one entrance and leaving from another which was 15km away. To explore Dia Nguc cave, Long and four teammates spent 36 hours in deep water, cold and hungry. Long also successfully explored dangerous Hut cave where a team of foreign spelunkers once got lost for four days. Hut cave has a mouth with swift-flowing water which once swept away dozens of houses of the local residents.

Among his hardest trips was that to Cong Nuoc cave in Chu Xai Phin village, Phong Tho district, Lai Chau in 2016. Cong Nuoc has a vertical depth of 600m with 14 layers and is regarded as the deepest cave in Vietnam. When exploring this cave, Long fell to the bottom of the cave from a height of 50m. He was immobile for two days in the cave with a broken leg, injured spinal cord, and a sprained ankle. It took him two years to recover from the accident after unceasing physical therapy.

Long and his team in Dong Lach cave in Thanh Hoa. Photo: Files

Inside Hut cave in Son La. Photo: Files

Hut cave is where a team of foreign spelunkers once got lost for four days. Photo: Files 

20m-deep Vang cave in Hoa Binh. Photo: Files

At the mounth of Tham Phay cave in Bac Kan. Photo: Files

Ta Nam Long and his team reach the end point of Huyen cave in Thai Nguyen. Photo: Files

Long in his trip with Belgian and German cavers to Dong Van, Ha Giang. Photo: Files

Reaching 30m-deep Na Phong cave in Bac Kan. Photo: Files

Long and a teammate in Sa Khao cave, Thai Nguyen. Photo: Files

After nearly ten years of making hundreds of trips, Long now owns a treasure of thousands of valuable photos and hundreds of impressive videos shot inside deep caves.

Long is planning on a project to build a hot spring in Son La which is an ideal tourist site. It will also be the headquarters in the northwest for VCEA members.

In 2015, Long was one of only two Vietnamese to join an expedition with two Belgian caving experts, David Lagrou and Lieven De Bontridder, to search for clean water sources for ethnic people in Dong Van and Meo Vac, Ha Giang.

Story: Bich Van - Photos: Thanh Giang