01:30 p.m. I stand in front of the gate of Le Khao Kob cave. There is a small bridge to cross, and a few steps which take me to the bank of the river. I am going to visit the cave by boat. The boats seat 4 persons, and there is a paddler in the front and another one in the back. I get on the boat with 3 other people, and here we go, along the small river with luxuriant vegetation surrounding us.
While we make our way on the stream towards the entrance, let me tell you a bit more about this cave. The cave is located about 20km North of Trang, and about 2h30 drive from Krabi. There are about 4 kilometres of galleries, but not all are open to the public. A river divides into three waterways when it reaches the Khao Kob mountain, two of them going around it while the third is flowing all the way through the cave. It is one of the top eco-tourism destination in the region.
But here comes the entrance of the cave, and our boat captain leads the boat seamlessly into the barely open mouth of the stone giant.
The subterranean path gets larger once inside, and I can admire the work of nature while following the stream.
Our navigator stops here and there to let us visit different chambers along the way, some pretty large ones, some more like narrow bowels where you need to bend to pass through.
There are some quite unique formation in the various galleries, and here are some of the most unique:
Elephant ass: if you look well at the block on the right hand side, it looks very much like the bottom of an elephant. The guide is telling me that I should pass my head between the “legs” of the stony pachyderm so as to attract luck into my life. So I did!
Stalactite wall: one more interesting legend from the guide. This curtain of stalactites has 3 entrances. If you go through it on the left, it will bring more love to your couple. If you use the middle way, single persons will find a partner. And for those who want to attract many lovers, they should enter on the right! Note the greenish tint of the stone at certain places. This is due to the fluorescent lighting, which stimulates the growth of moss and small plants at places.
Fecundity stalagmite (or phallagmite): they say that if you rub it, you will get a baby soon. I didn’t ask for much more details…
Creamy stalactite: this one looks almost edible!
Droplets coming out of the central canal of stalactites:
After a while underground, our captain turns to us and asks everyone to remove their shoes. Strange request, but as he is the sole master onboard, we all comply, curious to know why we should be barefoot. He then asks us to lay on our back and straighten our legs. Again we follow his instructions.
It gives me the leisure to admire the ceiling, which suddenly seems to be getting closer and closer, until…
… until it gets REALLY closer…
… sometimes close enough for a shave! The journey goes on and on like that for 350 metres, punctuated here and there by a scream or a sharp instruction from the navigator. No need to put a coin in your mouth to cross that river, but you may want to tip the boatsmen for the thrill they gave you!
I chill for a while, reliving this extraordinary passage underground. The only thing that didn’t match the level of the whole experience was the lighting inside the cave: the fluorescent tubes could have been more hidden, as well as the wiring which is blatantly apparent everywhere, and they should probably opt for a form of lighting that does not catalyses the growth of moss and other vegetal (may be by giving visitors individual lamps, or using sensors to light the place only when someone is around…).
Time to go back to the minivan and return to Krabi!