We have rented a van for one week to explore Northern Thailand. There is something so freeing about having your own wheels. I’m reminded of just how much I love road trips. Our destinations are loosely planned and we have the freedom to stop and explore at will.
After a late afternoon start from Chiang Mai, our first stop was Chiang Dao, Thailand.
Settled in to our little bungalow for the night, we fell asleep to the sound of singing birds, and monks chanting in the distance. Our wake up call of roosters crowing arrived with the sunrise and a cacophony of chirping, whooping, and singing soon followed as the crickets, frogs, and birds awoke and greeted each other.
We ate cereal on the verandah and the children went off to explore the grounds of Chiang Dao Nature Guesthouse armed with sticks and imagination. I toured the grounds armed with my camera.
The reason to go to Chiang Dao, other than its beautiful location amongst the mountains, is to explore Chiang Dao Cave. We thought it was going to be just another cave with the requisite Buddha statues and bat guano but we still needed to check it out since we were in the area. What it turned out to be was a 735 meter loop through huge caverns and small tunnels. A journey that can only be attempted with a guide and equipped with an oil lantern. This cave is massive!
Only a few minutes into our journey I began to chicken out. The air was thin, the smell of the oil lantern filled my nostrils, and I began to feel the familiar pang of panic rise in my stomach. I voiced my concerns and said I wasn’t up for a 735 meter underground exploration. My mom shared my sentiments (the only panic attack she ever had was in a cave). But then the children began to get scared and wanted to turn around too. The things we do for our children! My mom and I put on our brave faces because we knew if we didn’t, the children would borrow our fear and miss out on something cool.
Our panic subsided after a while and we began to enjoy ourselves. The cave was pretty darn amazing. In some spots we had to get down on hands and knees to crawl through the tunnels to the next chamber. Our guide pointed out stalagmites and stalactites that resembled animals, we shined our lights on the hundreds of bats lining the chamber ceilings, we walked through bat guano, we saw spiders the size of my fist. Did I mention it was 735 meters of caves? Wowzers!