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Minh Long I News

Monday, 6th of February 2017

Vietnam sexagenarian businessman takes on Son Doong challenge

A 66-year-old Vietnamese businessman, the second oldest explorer to conquer Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave, has opened up about his unprepared trip and the exhilarating experience of traveling through the world’s largest grotto.

Ly Ngoc Minh, founder of Minh Long Company, the country’s prominent ceramics manufacturer, was pleased with his accomplishment, according to Oxalis, a tour operator offering excursions to Son Doong Cave and its neighboring grottos.

Located in the UNESCO-recognized Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the north-central province of Quang Binh, Son Doong was officially recognized as the world’s largest cave after a group of scientists from the British Cave Research Association conducted a survey on the area in 2009.

Nearly six months after his trip to the cave, Minh still enthusiastically recalls the magnificent scenery and perilous obstacles he overcame on his journey.

The trip lasted five days with a 100-kilometer journey through steams and over cliffs, the businessman recounted. He added that the adventure might definitely be considered risky and probably would not be suitable for those in poor health condition.

The unplanned excursion became a reality when the man decided to tag along with his three sons after learning they planned to explore the cave.

“It was quite adventurous,” Minh stated. “But I had already climbed many mountains and accumulated enough travel experience.”

“I needed to set foot in Vietnam’s top destination while I still had the chance,” he continued.

Minh and 10 other travelers commenced their journey in June 2016, when rainy weather had made their path to Son Doong Cave extra difficult.

The terrain in certain untouched areas was completely different from what Minh had walked through on previous adventures, he admitted.

“I felt pain in my legs after the first few kilometers. I later simulated the walk of our tour guides, using short and steady steps to keep up,” he recalled.

Minh quickly adapted to the toilsome journey, relying on his abundant travel experience to get him through the cave – a much harder trek than any mountain he had conquered.

He and his family have been to the Ba Den Mountain in the southern Vietnamese province of Tay Ninh; Mount Emei, Tai, and Heng in China; and the Tibetan Plateau, the man said.

Though porters carried much of the group’s heavy gear, each member of the excursion team brought an eight-kilogram backpack of personal belongings and food.

“My sons wanted to help me out with the baggage. They tried to aid me while crossing difficult areas, but I did not let them,” Minh stated.

“Being the oldest member of the group didn’t give me the right to do less work than the others,” the adventurer asserted, adding that such hardship made the experience more meaningful.

The most tedious part of the Son Doong challenge was climbing up cliffs, some as high as 10 meters, according to the senior.

Each traveler was equipped with specialized gear during the ascent, he stated, adding that even the younger men found it physically demanding.

However, the obstacles did not stop Minh from completing the trek.

What is the secret to the senior citizen’s ability to conquer such taxing feats?

Minh does yoga regularly to help maintain endurance and physical fitness in his old age.

“I practice yoga for 30 minutes to an hour every night before bed. The workout helps me relieve stress and exhaustion. It’s allowed me to develop and maintain my good health over the years,” he elaborated.

Aside from yoga, Minh often takes part in other sports, including golf and swimming, in his free time and has a “walk everywhere” lifestyle.

According to the adventurer, the trip to Son Doong was an unprecedented and memorable experience.

“The trip is quite dangerous for people of my age, but I could not miss this amazing opportunity to witness the amazing beauty of nature,” he remarked.

By Tuoi Tre Newspaper

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