Crazy Caving in Soppong!!

Trip Start Jan 07, 2009
1
8
47
Trip End Aug 04, 2009


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Where I stayed
Cave Lodge

Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I listed this entry as "Soppong", but I was actually staying 9KM out of Soppong at Cave Lodge. It's quite isolated from everything, but it's near all the good hiking and caves! I arrived after a bus ride where in every hill it felt like the bus was going to break down. Never in my life have I wished I could ride a motorbike more than now!!! The roads are empty and well paved and oh so beautiful!! But alas...I had to be satisfied with just the motorbike taxi ride to the lodge. :) I was quite hungry when I arrived and decided to order lunch, so I asked for a recommendation from their menu of something I would have never tried before, and I ended up with the Shan (a hilltribe) food, which is made of fermented soya...it was stinky and had a rather strong taste, but I was glad to try it..............

Then I chatted with two guys who had just arrived on motorbike, and decided to tag along on their hike to the top of a mountain and back down. We have a map that is "not to scale but impossible to get lost"...but it is a bit possible to get lost! We didn't, but I am not so sure we took the planned path! It was quite a tough hike uphill, under the sun, trying to keep up with two guys who are much more fit than I am. lol...but it was fun. One of the highlights was on the way back down, we saw a bunch of kids trying to get a cow unstuck from the mud, and one of guys went to help them...the kids had a good laugh I think. :)

Then when we got back to the lodge I met my dorm-mates, who were two cool single traveller girls around my age. The three of us plus the two guys decided to sign up to do a trekking/caving tour the next day, which included lots of walking and visiting three caves. At the end of the description it said "must be adventurous and fit", so I was a little worried....and then the next morning I woke up feeling not so well at all. I felt nauseous and really icky...and was debating whether I could handle a trek that required to be "adventurous and fit". In the end, I decided to go for it because in order to get a trek to go, at least 4 people are required and I wasn't sure I would have another chance! So I set off, feeling a little shaky...having no idea what I was in for. I will try to describe...but it's hard! The first cave was called the "fossil cave", and took about an hour to explore. I required lots of climbing skills and getting dirty and muddy...but it was quite amazing. We saw some big spiders, some tiny cave mushrooms, and some crazy cave worms, and I was just amazed at my first cave experience. The fit wasn't too tight...compared to the next cave!!!

Now this has to be one of the craziest experiences of my life. Seriously. This was a cave that lead to a 30 metre waterfall, in the cave. When I saw our quiet guide Wat stretching before entering the cave, I was wondering what was ahead. We entered the cave in a small stream...and kept crawling through it the whole way through! Most of the way we were literally crawling in about a foot or two of water (sometimes maybe more), often with just about the same amout of space for our heads above the water. Every now and then were was a spot where we could stand up, and it was always a relief. I kept thinking "what if the water level rises and we can't get out!!!"...which of course is silly because it is the dry season and I haven't seen a drop of rain since I arrived in Thailand. Anyway, the whole way I was just blown away at what we were doing! In the end, we came to the top of a 30 metre waterfall...wouldn't want to fall down there! Then we made our way back out through the same crazy path, absolutely amazed and energized. I think the craziness of this adventure gave me enough of a boost to get through the day. The last cave of the way was much smaller, but had some 2000 year old coffins in it, which is quite cool!

Cave lodge is quite an awesome place, and I really liked my little Cave Lodge crew, and it really sucked that I was feeling really really awful and sick the whole time. I used every bit of energy I could muster to stay up with everyone by the campfire until 10PM, but then I just felt so awful that I couldn't take it anymore and went to bed...and that's basically the story of the last few days!! I guess I caught some sort of traveller's bug, because I've had the worse nausea for three days now, feel so weak, shaky, and generally icky. :( and I was 9KM away from the nearest drugstore where I could buy antibiotics. yuk.

But I pushed myself to make the most out of my time at Cave Lodge anyway. I visited the main cave, Tam Lod, the next day. This is very different kind of cave...it's HUGE! I asked my guide how high it is and her answer was "very high"...lol, she was such a cute little lady though. In this cave you go through on a bamboo raft, and stop off and explore various areas with a guide with a lattern...I had my own private guide so it felt like I got the full "creepy effect" of being in this huge cave. Very cool....but it took a lot of my energy, and I had to go lie down right after...but thankfully I could lie down in the sunshine next to the river! Cave Lodge is a good place to do nothing much.

The next morning I was ready to head off again on the bus, and I woke up saying "hurray, I feel better"...and made the mistake of eating breakfast! By the time I took a motorcycle taxi down to town I felt awful once again...and an hour later, when the bus arrived and I saw that it was completely packed and I would not even be able to sit down, I decided to stay one extra night in the actual town of Soppong, because there was no way that I could face the winding mountain roads standing in a crowded bus feeling so icky!!  But at least I was now in town and was able to get some antibiotics which should hopefully make me all better soon. I hope. :)
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