Well, it was actually just one abandoned cave in Thailand…
Okay, so my boyfriend is a caveman. Jonas just loves them. When we are trip planning we have to factor caves into the picture. So…Where are the caves in Thailand?
We read that the Mae Hong Son region is dotted with caves with around 250 explored caves and many more unexplored caves tucked away in the limestone. We decide to take a big motorbike trip in the Mae Hong Son Province on the search for some cool caves.
First stop – the small village of Soppong to check out the famous Tham Lod. You have to take a tour through Tham Lod, there’s no way around it. In a waaaay it’s good; since the tourists must hire a local guide, the locals see value in the cave and surrounding nature, thus protecting the surrounding jungle from deforestation. AKA Eco-tourism.
Our local guide carrying the gas lantern (the coolest part about the Tham Lod cave/tour) and leading us through Tham Lod cave, which involves a bamboo raft, some huge koi, ancient coffins, bats and beautiful formations.
The tour is niiiice but we want to really explore some caves. On our own.
We take Lonely Planet’s recommendation and decide to head to the Cave Lodge to meet the infamous Australian caver who knows just about everything in the area (he discovered these caves with an Australian team in the first place). Maybe he can point us in the right direction.
To our disappointment, the caver wants us to join a tour – he says something along the lines of “the cheapest world class caving experience you’ll ever get” – and brushes us off. Ahh, Jonas and I look at each other. We both have the same look in our eyes and that look is No. More. Tours. We feel defeated. We just want to be pointed in the right direction. Like, “an easy to intermediate cave is down this road. You can get through in an hour and just follow the river out”. Having high expectations can be such a drag sometimes. So we look around the Cave Lodge anyway, awkwardly lingering. Finally, the caver comes around. “Hey, there’s some maps on the wall of the area with the caves roughly marked out. Take some pictures on your phone and take at least two torches with you”. Snap, snap, snap.
And we’re off. Meditation caves surrounding Tham Lod. We know the area so let’s check these out.
Okay, I think we’re on the right track. We find this forest monastery. I want to explore the monastery but I hear wild vicious dogs really near, just beyond this entry. I chicken out and we keep going.
We stumble upon this meditation cave. Interessstting. We are a little creeped out. It’s a tiny little hole with just enough space to sit and lock oneself in. I guess it’s dark and quiet but what about all the creepy crawlies?!
We keep going, we aren’t satisfied yet. Just one really cool cave. Is that too much to ask?
Examining our map, we see “Coffin Cave”. It looks quite close and just off the main road. Let’s go!
It should be right about here…”I FOUND IT! JONAS. Pull over!” We found it. I see a huge limestone outcrop and behind a heap of overgrown bushes, I can make out a sign: Coffin Cave Tourist Information.
“What is going on here?” Jonas asks. “I don’t know but we found it. It’s abandoned. Why isn’t anyone here? Maybe it’s too haunted for the locals??” I wonder.
We are too eager. We head right for the cliff, ascending the limestone. We can see the coffins. They are just laying there, these 3000 year old wooden coffins, just laying there. We have to cross this bamboo bridge to get close.
Some others are just laying against the rock face.
“Crap! I touched one!” Jonas yells. “Quick! Apologise to the cave spirits and ask them for forgiveness!” I holler back. Let’s go to the next cave.
Finally, the really cool cave of our dreams. I mean it’s totally abandoned with these old boat coffins or death ships everywhere. Pretty sweet.
This one’s real creepy. I run out. It’s dark and damp, bats fluttering and too many coffins.
I’m out of here!
It was so very fun, exploring this cave which was once a tourist stop, now completely abandoned. The bushes are growing bigger and bigger and soon the entry and path will be covered. I hate to spoil the surprise, so you have to find this one for yourself. I will tell you that on the main road in Soppong that goes on to Mae Hong Son, look for the Police Station and the Hospital. Somewhere along there, you can find the entry to this cave.
Will you find it?
P.S. Do you even Tourist?