Son Doong will remain an unforgettable experience for me. We had a great group which is a bonus. Son Doong in itself is unfathomable, you have to see it and feel it! Oxalis facilitates to make this happen in the best way possible. The booking communication commenced with Jamie who was always prompt & precise in her responses and a pleasure to have met her. The rest of the office staff are also super friendly.The expedition conducted by the Bristish and Local Guides / Porters work in harmony. They all know what they are doing and Thank God! for that because Son Doong terrain definitely requires a very high level of expertise. Our guides from the UK were Deb and Watto. Deb encouraged & helped me make it over the steep mountain after Do line 1, as my balance & confidence was off! Thanks Deb so much!. Watto with his Yorkshire accent and humour was a treat! He held my hand during those wobbly feet moments and at those tricky passes. Him singing 'Dont fall off the roof cause you'll make a hole in the ground......'' (how apt was that for me haha!) and asking me to 'Stand up woman stand up' is still ringing in my head! Hats off to the passion with which he made photography possible. Thanks Watto! We had Dzongh, the young local guide and he is an absolute delight! extremely confident, empathetic and a strong young man. He shared information well and I watched as he keenly ''pro actively'' attended to each and everyone in the group at all times. He even taught us some local games which when blended with sips of rice wine :) made for a good laugh, so welcoming after a hard day Thanks Dzongh!. I forget the names of the other porters who gave us a helping hand and assisted well including at those 'use of harness' spots. Its amazing to watch them carry 35 or more kilos on their backs through the same tough route! The highlight of the evenings was the 'feast' that awaited us at camp! OMG, one wouldn't believe that yummy dishes including a wide vegetarian choice for me, served in the wilderness, Kudos to the chef! Thank you Oxalis team for honoring the flora & fauna of Son Doong I believe that because its how you do what you do, you are blessed by SD to bring each one of us back unscathed! All the best to each one of you and continue keeping Son Doong safe!:)
For those joining the expediion some friendly tips:1. carry the absolute bare minimum items cause most folks generally bring more than required which the porters have to carry. 2. To be mindful & very generous when tipping the Porters at the end of the trip. 3. Its nice to buy from the local shops in Phong Nha some sweets, biscuits for the children we meet on the first day of the trek at the village stop. 4. Get to Phong Nha atleast a day or 2 prior to the trek and stay at Ho Kahns homestay at the bungalow facing the river, Mrs Ho Kahn and her family are lovely people. 5. Denise and her team do a fantatsic menu, great ambience and excellent service at the Oxalis restaurant (7 mins by cycle from Ho Kahns). 6. The products like the T shirts / trousers sold at Oxalis are a good buy as the money goes to charity.
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