Cultural phrase: Bá nghệ bá tri, vị chi bá láp

English Equivalent: Jack of all trades, master of none

Personally, I have always thought the nickname “Jack of all trades” as a compliment. If someone dabbles in several different fields and becomes competent in those fields, isn’t is better than a person who is a master in one area but then has nothing else to fall back on? Just some food for thought, I suppose.


Now onto the location for today!

Instead of choosing a country and discussing it in broad terms, I chose a specific site within Vietnam, which is the Son Doong Cave!

Looking inside the Son Doong Cave
Model of the Cave, Compared to the Empire State Building

Growing up, my family traveled to caves akin to how other families visit amusement parks. The only memories of visiting random cities I have consist of the cave we went to while in that city and to this day, I’m thankful I don’t have claustrophobia.

However, through my cave-exploration years, I’ve gained an appreciation for these formations.

And even more for the Son Doong Cave.

This cave, the largest in the world at approximately 490 feet wide, 5 miles long, and 660 feet high, was discovered in 1991 by a local farmer and then in 2009 by some British cavers. A few centuries ago, river water eroded away the limestone on top of the cave so thinly that the ceiling fell in. Over time, a lust forest grew within the cave, and now, there’s a river, cave pearls, various animals, and of course, many, many stalagmites and stalactites that call Son Doong Cave home.

Son Doong is shrouded in such a mysterious and intimidating yet compelling air, like something out of the fantasy novels I couldn’t put down as a kid. Even though the hike getting to the cave is arduous (including an 80 meter descent into the mouth of the cave), I feel like I need to visit that cave. Considering the reports that a whole city street could fit within the Son Doong cave, it just makes you wonder what else could be in that cave. Although it’s clearly not isolated from people anymore, the flourishing forest and river within it makes it seem like a desolate area out of Avatar or any other nature-rich movie.

And this is where the Jack of All Trades comes in. I am unathletic, in all meanings of the word and would live quite the comfortable life if I stuck to my books. Yet, simply the knowledge of amazing structures and cultures accompanying the planet alongside me encourages me to learn and do everything, which includes my long-term nemesis, exercise. As of now, my current philosophy of life is to experience everything I can and if the follow the outdated proverb to become a master of one, I’ll miss out on everything the world has to offer me.

So I implore all of you to avoid getting caught up in one idea, one field and explore what’s around you. Our youth won’t last forever.

(P.S. There’s an amazing 360° tour National Geographic did of the cave here and I had chills from the beginning, so I highly recommend checking it out!)

One thought on “Cultural Bucket #3: Vietnam

  1. Hey Hinkal! I must say, your passion blog topic is one that has interested me the most so far. I love the way you incorporate a different culture into your writings. In terms of the cave itself, I felt like I took a walk through it just by your description! I love reading about new places I could potentially visit one day (although chances are slim). Like you, I myself prefer reading books over exercise, but isn’t it wonderful that there are aspects of nature so beautiful that they can actually pull us out of our comfort zone? Your blog takes a different approach on the term motivational, and I love it!

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