Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Welcome to the Jungle

Ten days of jungle, caves, white water and just plain relaxing. We are now in Mae Hong Son, the next main town from Soppong where we had our adventures at cave lodge (cavelodge.com). We were actually 8km out of Soppong right near the Myanmar border, there happened to be no phone or Internet there, explaining the lack of communication. Cave Lodge was actually recommended to us by Ori who knew through someone else. Ori had to leave two days later because his visa was running out but we stayed for over a week. There are over 200 caves in the area and we were able to explore a couple...that was really really cool especially because we went by ourselves mostly adding an extra jarring element. The first cave we went to see was on the "Knob" a large protruding thwack of limestone jutting out of the hillside. Not only was it a test to get to the top but to find the cave inside.
"The Knob"
In order to get to one of the caves in the area you must ask John, the cave lodge owner to explain the directions and draw you a map, sounds simple but when you are traversing through jungle with no readily available trails, it can take a while to get where you want to be. The view from the top was amazing, getting inside was a worrisome nightmare. The instructions included "find a hole in the ground that no sane person would go into and go in", problem be, we didn't know if it was the right hole or not, looking into the abyss we think exit? Dan and Ori lowered themselves in while I waited for them to try to find the way out.
Dan heading into the abyss
We were able to talk to one another when they were down there however, through a blight of miscommunication, they left the cave without me knowing. I waited for over an hour, wondering what the hell is going on, and when I should go get help. But the buggers showed up, to their own surmise they went the wrong way out and feared their lives whilst scaling a cliff. We were more organized and cautious after that. At Cave lodge the accommodation was cheap, people friendly and food really good. There is so much to do there it is ridiculous. We went to the X-mas cave and guided Lod cave, a huge cave that a river runs through, we watched the bird show from the exit twice (300, 000 fork-tailed swifts colliding and maneuvering into the cave at dusk-so cool!). We also went on a one day 45km white water kayaking trip which was AWESOME! I had never done anything like that before and didn't really know what I was in for but it was exhilarating fun. A group of 13 went down the Khong that empties into the Pai river.
I will never forget: Going down the Pai to a particularly ruff section to the caution of John and Steve the main guides saying "follow us"
They were the first to flip.
Going fast I dig in my paddle, only to go over a ridge and see a huge white wall of water. I think No and Shit simultaneously, knowing we could not make it through with out flipping. All boats but one flipped. I went for a swim but no harm done but a bruise, lung full of murky river water, and lots of adrenaline.
John from Cave Lodge
Dan was in the only single Kayak
Some days we stayed at the Lodge read and relaxed.
I know: Dan with a cat! Even he could not resist their cuteness
Rainy day
Hitching to Soppong on the back of a very full pick-up
We went to the winter fair with John, and other friends of the family from Cave Lodge
Live free Muay Thai at the winter fair
We went on the Farris wheel but they were so small that Dan and I could not fit in one together
Sam in Farris wheel cage designed for tiny Thais, not big Farangs
Here are some cave pics
Lod cave:

X-Mas cave:
Fish cave:
It was really cool to be at Cave Lodge and around, the people, and villages were so wonderful. Its amazing how simply people can live and be happy. I love that.


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