Travelogue: Caving at Pang Mapha

While visiting Pang Mapha and staying at the Cave Lodge, I decided to go on a  caving / spelunking expedition!  I’ve never done any caving before (well, once, but it was such a shallow cave, it shouldn’t even count).
Pang Mapha - cave lodge tours Pang Mapha - cave lodge treasure map

The Cave Lodge was originally founded to support spelunkers exploring the area, and now continues to do some pretty awesome tours, for fairly cheap – $20 for an all-day trip?  Sign me up!

We went to three caves – the ‘fossil’ cave, the ‘waterfall’ cave, and the ‘Christmas’ cave.

To get to the caves though, we had to hike!  It’s a good thing we had a guide; I had no idea where anything was, treasure map notwithstanding, so I simply followed the guide.  It was a pretty good hike.

The scenery was quite nice!
Pang Mapha - panorama caving trip view 2
Pang Mapha - caving trip vanna white
Pang Mapha - panorama caving trip view 1

Pang Mapha - panorama caving trip view 3

While hiking around, I found myself a curling fern, and, had way too much fun poking at it.
Pang Mapha - caving trip curling fern

But now, the caves!  First up is the fossil cave.  It’s a cool combination of rock climbing, crawling, and standing around gawking at the beauty of the cave.
Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave crawling

It’s got a lot of rock formations:

There are bats!  And where there are bats, there is guano!
Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave bat Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave guano

This centipede and these spiders almost scared the crap out of me, when I almost accidentally put my hand on them:
Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave centipede Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave spider

I’m not a fan of the creepy crawlies, but the fossil cave is an excellent introduction to spelunking!
Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave dark portrait Pang Mapha - caving trip fossil cave portrait

Next up is a waterfall cave – a cave only half a meter high, half submerged in water.  Due to fear of water damage, I could not bring in my camera, but this was easily the best cave of my trip.  Early on you can sort of shuffle in, bent half way over, but as the ceiling height starts to fall and water levels start to rise, you’re forced to crawl in on your hands and knees, or lie on your back and pull yourself along.
Pang Mapha - caving trip waterfall cave portrait Pang Mapha - caving trip waterfall cave

The spelunkable portion of the cave is quite small though – after a while, the water in the cave ends up at a waterfall, dropping down at least 20 meters.  Lacking any sort of rope or climbing gear, there was no way we were going down – apparently, somebody has fallen down to their death before!  By the time I came back out from this cave, I was completely soaked through – just in time for lunch and drying off in the sun.

Finally, there was the Christmas cave – called so because it was discovered on Christmas day.  Quite creative, eh?  A rather large crevice in the earth, it is mainly accessible by ladder.

Again, lots of rock formations – stalagmites, stalactites, etc!

This one in particular is extremely phallic looking:

Pang Mapha - caving trip christmas cave phallic

Most people, when visiting Pang Mapha, only visit Lod Cave – it’s a very nice huge cave, with lots of archaeological implications, but it’s not really a spelunking cave.  Nonetheless, I went to take a look.  Check out how huge the entrance is!
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave entrance

From the entrance, we took a bamboo raft inside:
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave bamboo rafts 1 Pang Mapha - Lod Cave bamboo rafts 2

It’s an experience, riding into the darkness:
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave going in 1 Pang Mapha - Lod Cave going in 2

Most of the cave is rather unimpressive, especially after going spelunking earlier.  It’s a cave, I’m not surprised.  Some of these rocks are called helictite / rimstone.

What’s cool (in an archaeological way) is these wooden coffins found deep within the cave, dating back centuries!  The caves are rather inaccessible too, so people aren’t sure how they were carried in:
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave coffin 1 Pang Mapha - Lod Cave coffin 2

There used to be a cave drawing here – but then it was accidentally erased by a kid tasked with cleaning up the cave and erasing graffiti.
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave erased cave drawing

A sinkhole!
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave sinkhole

Deep within the cave, we had to rely on a gas lantern for light – making for a very nice photo.
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave lantern 1

And finally, after some time exploring the cave, our boat makes it back out into the open.
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave boat to exit

From the exit, you can sit and watch the bats fly out at dusk, just as sparrows fly back in having finished their hunting for the day.
Pang Mapha - Lod Cave bat sparrow exit

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