Thach Thuy is part of 7 caves discovered in March in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park - famous for its cavern system - by a group of UK explorers headed by Howard Limbert.
Instead of naming it, Howard left the honor to Tuoi Tre Newspaper which then launched a contest calling on its readers to suggest ideas for the name.
Four UK explorers including Howard plus a translator were responsible for picking out a winning entry and they selected Thach Thuy, which was recommended by four readers who therefore win a free trip worth VND10 million (US$500) each to the site.
(From L) Mong Tuyen, Phuong Thanh, Lai Xi Dieu, three readers selected Thach Thuy as a name of a new-found cave in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and won a free trip each to the site.
Winner Phuong Thanh (29) told Tuoi Tre she had been pondering long and hard at the marvel of nature that crafted such beautiful stalagmites rising up from sparkling water.
“Water and rocks seem intertwined”, she added, convinced that the name Water Stalagmite is a fitting description.
Besides the four prizes, Tuoi Tre Editorial Board has decided to award a special prize to the eldest person who took part in this naming contest. Mr. Ngo Van Ha, 97 years old from Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2, suggested “Ngoc” meaning “Gem” as the cave is like a precious stone to him.
Thach Thuy cave
Thach Thuy cave
In March, the British Cave Research Association found seven new caves in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park during a one-week trip there.
Ho Khanh, the team’s guide, said at the time that four of the seven grottos had already been named: Gio (Wind), Con Chay, Ky, and Hai Cua (Two Gates).
Phong Nha-Ke Bang area currently holds many world records: the area with the largest cave system, the area with the highest number of underground rivers, and with the longest dry cave.
Son Doong cave there has been known globally as the world’s largest cave after US magazine National Geographic gave it full coverage in late 2010.
Interview with Howard Limbert
Could you explain how you chose the name? How did the process go? How many people got involved in choosing the name?
A group of 4 team members and a translator chose the name. Each of us had a preference and the majority was the winner.
Why did you choose the name of Thach Thuy among others? Describe to us how you compare the name with other available names?
The majority liked the name because it was an accurate description of the possibly unique formations. We particularly liked that name because of the water element which is very unusual . The stalagmites are obviously formed by water process and because they are living in a pool of water and growing out of a pool we all felt the name was most suitable.
What do you think about the fact that there are hundreds of emails sent to the newspaper to recommend the names?
We were all incredibly pleased to see your readers great interest in the beauty of the caves of Vietnam. We are overwhelmed by the response to the caption competition and it is obviously a huge success. Many names were excellent and it is a shame we can only pick one winner.
How do you think about the campaign to work with Tuoi Tre in naming the cave?
It was a great idea to obtain public interest of such a scale and shows the Vietnamese peoples love for beauty and there fabulous treasures still unexplored within Vietnam.
Could you share with us about the exploration this time? How many caves have you explored? What special about the caves? Are there things interesting and different from the previous explorations?
We have explored now over 20k of new cave which no one has ever seen before ever! We have mapped and surveyed over 41 new caves in Quang Binh province this time. Many of the caves have been different from previous expeditions. Some are very deep over 250m and many involve 3 day walks in very difficult terrain to just get to the entrance. Our Guides especially Mr Ho Khanh and Mr Phong deserve special praise for their efforts in assisting us. Without their considerable help we would not have been able to achieve the success. It has been a very difficult expedition because of the hard walks to the caves in the harsh jungle, however it has been extremely rewarding for us working with the fantastic helpful people from Phong Nha village.
What are you going to do next after this exploration? When are you coming back for the next exploration?
After this expedition our team will assist a Japanese TV team from Tokyo in making a film about Hang Son Doong to help promote the wonderful Ke Bang National Park.
I may return next year to Vietnam again to help in a film maybe next time about the Hang Vom system including Paradise cave. Also another film by a Brazilian film team is a possibility.
Our next expedition to explore more caves will however be in 2014 because we will need to earn money to fund such an expedition which we have to pay ourselves. We have no sponsorship and to run an expedition is very costly and we will have to save up for 2 years before we can afford to return.
What are you going to do with the result of this exploration? You said scientists in the UK are examining the photos of Hang Va. How is it, and what is it for. If it is really special and unique, what can be done and should be done next?
We always produce a report of all our exploration and we pass this information back to Quang Binh People’s Committee as well as Hanoi University of Science. We also pass it onto libraries in many parts of the world. We will do talks and lectures at Caving conferences to explain the beauty of the Ke Bang National Park and its world famous caves. We need to find out if the formations are unique and if so how were they created. When we find that out we will have some idea of what should be done next.