The day before we had arranged to meet Tah, and her son (who we had met on the snorkeling tour) early so that we could drive up to Khoa Kob Cave together. We drove out on a scooter, following Tah’s hired motorbike, for about 40 minutes out of the Trang city centre.
We had read about this cave whilst in Penang and was our main reason for coming to Trang – a small town with hardly any tourists (they mostly head up to Krabi).
The boat costs 300 Baht which we shared with Tah, her son, and another traveler thus saving us quite a bit. There’s a river that runs through the cave and at times we would dock, get out of the boat and walk through some caves checking out the stalactites and stalagmites, before getting onto the boat. It was pretty impressive and reminded me of the catacombs in Paris – (except that was creepier as you’re surrounded by human skulls).
The most impressive part of the boat ride/cave exploring was the journey out of the cave. You’re told to take off your shoes (Lionel managed to only untie his laces!) and then to lie flat on the seats/across the boat. The boat itself is tiny so squishing and lying down on hard wooden seats with six other people was quite uncomfortable. The boat driver at the front kept flattening our legs down lower and lower and even had to put the oar away next to me. The boat driver at the back had also laid down but was shining a torch to help the first guy navigate. And navigate indeed. The cave ceiling got very low, low enough to brush Lionel’s chest a few times, and the guy at the front only used the hanging stalactites to push the boat along.
It was terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. The sharp stalactites were only cms away from our faces. I had the camera on my chest, but occasionally had to move it to my side so it didn’t get scratched. We moved quite rapidly too; the boat driver hit his head a few times as he poked his head out to navigate.
After what seemed like the coolest adventure ride ever, we decided to ride a bit further to see the ‘Sleeping Buddha.’ No one was around, and the place looked beyond disrepair, so we initially thought the cave was collapsed or closed or something. After walking in a bit we found a guy on a hammock who told us that it was open, so we made a 20Baht donation and walked into the cave. After a couple of flights of stairs, and a couple of hundred bats flying around our heads, we made it to a sitting Buddha. When we got back down from the top of the cave, we found a monk cutting bananas on a rusty scyth. He spoke brilliant English and we had a bit of a conversation before we noticed a swarm of monkeys heading towards us. The monk then started offering the bananas to the monkeys and before we knew it we were surrounded by hundreds of little monkeys!
The monk also realized that were were all a bit hungry so he offered us bits of his lunch, little sticky rice with custard wrapped in neat banana leaves.
Stupidly, after having just read instructions on how to interact with monks (women cannot touch monks, and when receiving things from monks must have it dropped in their hands, and if giving something to a monk, they must leave it on an opened cloth in front of the monk) I grabbed the banana leaf rice thing from the monk. Then I saw Tah clasp her hands in front of her, nodding to the monk before opening her palms for him to drop the rice parcel into her hands. Argh. And I had just read it!!
We also finally found the Sleeping Buddha, tucked in a different nook of the cave, and then headed back to Trang.
After a bit of lunch, and saying goodbye to Tah, they had a flight back to Bangkok, Lionel and I decided on a road trip of our own. We rode for about an hour and a half, following our map and the instructions the lady from PJ’s Guesthouse gave us, and finally made it (close to 4pm) to a waterfall where a local Thai family were swimming. It was wonderful sitting in the river, and once the family had left, we had the whole waterfall and river to ourselves.
After an hour or so we had to head back as it was getting dark, pretty quickly. We rode in the dark for most of the way, along dirt roads with no lights and along main highways. This was a brilliant day of riding, and so much cheaper than taking a guided tour.
All in all, Lionel grew more confident riding (considering he first rode only a few days ago), we realized we could go off the grid without other people, and after spending a bit more time and effort ourselves, we found a local waterfall which was so much more fun than joining a tour with 100 other people!