Todd’s school loves trilingualism, Americana, and foul cafeteria food. Fortunately for us, it also loves a good three-day weekend. When the school bestowed the latest bounty of vacational abundance, we decided to return to Khao Sam Roi Yot, the site of Todd’s birthday birding adventure. Because that trip was all about our feathered friends, we didn’t get a chance to explore the park’s main attraction: caves.We set out on Saturday morning to remedy this. We were so focused on reaching our dimly-lit destination that we almost missed this gem: a Buddhist temple that has a roof made out of Heineken bottles. After devoting the appropriate attention to this architectural wonder, we found the trail leading to our caving destination. It began at the edge of a forest: Across a beach:
And then straight up a boulder-strewn path. At this point, I had visions of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom running through my head.We finally reached the entrance to the cave, where we were greeted by this sign: We then began the descent into the cave. I’ve always found exploring natural wonders in Asia to be extra-exciting, because there’s a sense that anything could happen – you could be clobbered by a falling stalactite, or consumed by an unknown reptile that the tourist signs forgot to mention. Risk-mitigation is not the highest priority. “Mai pen rai” (no problem) seems to be the attitude – one less farang polluting Thai culture. We finally reached the belly of the cave. It was an eerie contrast of dark and light – on one side, sunlight streamed in and plants grew, while the other half was dark and dank. While it was an intriguing place, we couldn’t understand why it was considered so historically significant, until we saw a sign proclaiming that 3 Thai kings had visited it. That’s it. The Thai people love nothing more than a good king, and the fact that three had visited the cave was enough to guarantee it a spot in the annals of history.
The main attraction was a wall with the kings’ signatures.A sala (shelter) was built in the centre of the cave to hold an image of the current king.
There was another feature of the cave that interested me even more than the kings’ signatures: the fact that the walls were covered in spider webs. Apparently, spiders dig a good cave as much as kings do, because the walls were fairly blanketed in the stuff. It was all I could do to keep from retching. Todd, on the other hand, went off like a regular cave-dwelling Gollum to collect some critters to feed to his favourite feathered friends.I hung out by the sala in hopes that the king would protect me from errant arachnids. I finally dragged Gollum out of the cave, and we headed back to the hotel. Apparently, we hadn’t experienced quite enough weirdness for one day, because we happened upon this shrine, which we’d seen advertised throughout the area (see the picture from the beginning of our hike).This photo doesn’t quite capture it, but I think the models were made by a sculptor who was just learning his craft. Blaring Thai heavy metal only added to the charm. I can’t wait to see what the next long weekend holds.