After Sheffield I drove down to Mole Creek, which is home to a massive karst cave network. Marakoopa and King Solomon’s caves can be toured over a couple of hours and the experience is unreal. The pictures barely begin to do it justice. Marakoopa is a much larger cave and has what’s called “The Cathedral”, a gigantic cavern with gorgeous formations. King Solomon’s Cave is smaller but has more intricate and colorful formations, and the tour focused a bit more on the history of the caves. The cave is named after the historical King Solomon and his collection of treasures.
The surrounding countryside of Ninh Binh was highly recommended by some friends of mine, so I made sure to stop there on my way up north. The town itself is not very impressive, but there are several small villages accessible by bike as well as Tam Coc, a village near a gorgeous by surrounded by limestone caves and cliffs. You can also climb one of these cliffs, above a cave called Mua, to get a view of the area. In addition to the scenery, I was impressed by friendly people and cheap prices.
On my second day in the Cappadocia region I wanted to hike around some of the valleys, observe the rock formations close up and get some good exercise. After only an hour of walking around, my day was kind of hijacked by Faruk, the owner of a cafe in the park who passed by me on a motorbike. He stopped and asked where I was going and asked if I wanted a ride. I thought, “sure, why not!” thinking I’d give him a little tip for taking me to the Red Valley and then be on my way. That little ride turned into five hours of Faruk showing me different places, giving me more and more of his homemade wine, and basically refusing to let me go off on my own. It was a bit frustrating, although not quite as creepy as it might sound written out here. I finally split from Faruk when his car ran out of gas on the way to the Love Valley, although at this point it was nearly sunset so I didn’t get to do the hiking I’d wanted to do.