Pang Ma Pha (Soppong) Travel Blog› entry 6 of 34 › view all entries
After breakfast we decided to take a minivan to Soppong, figuring that it was a bit more Thai and remote than Pai. Another hour of windy, mountainous roads and we arrived in the sleepy little
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The woman who runs the bungalows told us that it was about two kilometers walk to the Coffin Caves which sounded like a good hike, so we donned our trekking shoes (luckily) and headed out. She had warned us that the sign was small and easy to miss but we found it and I eventually convinced Cindy that there was indeed a path here (admittedly a bit overgrown, hidden, muddy and unused looking).
On the walk to the base of the
After about twenty minutes of scrambling up through the muddy jungle (I was very proud of Cindy who hardly complained at all), we made it to the first cave with the remains of a wooden coffin hewn from a single tree. The coffins are from the 1700's but apparently no one is sure of their origin or meaning. I scrambled around a bit and convinced Cindy to climb up one more level where there were some large caverns with more coffins. Very cool but fairly eerie since we were the only people there.
We slid and scrambled our way back down through the jungle and arrived at the bungalow just as it started pouring (kind of a daily event this time of year). After a shower in the rain, a relaxing beer (OK two beers) and a crash of my IPAQ causing me to have to rewrite this entire day (F**k you Mr.
Back from dinner and had a great time. We walked to a guesthouse called Little Eden, the nicest place in Soppong, and met the owner Pen who is a really friendly and helpful woman. We wanted to find out about caving and trekking opportunities and ended up having Shan food (local hill tribe) for dinner. We met a Canadian couple and their teenage son who were taking a year off and traveling.
Coincidentally, I had seen them earlier today walking on the road to Soppong (they are blond and very tall, neither normal in
Oh well, no scooters to rent but we think we will stay one more day in peaceful Soppong and visit the
After breakfast, we walked to the village market where we were able to hire two motorcycle taxis for a beautiful ride about ten miles through brilliant green rice paddies and small villages to the
When we went to pay the two guys, they said we could pay on the way home and eventually we agreed on a 3:00 p.
We paid the 100 Baht entrance fee for our "guide", a smiling older Thai woman whose only words of English seemed to be elephant, monkey, popcorn and UFO used to describe the cool stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave. Actually, It took a while to figure out UFO - I kept thinking she was saying Unicorn, but the formation growing out of the cave wall did somewhat resemble a UFO. The little raft ride through the cave was fun (other than the noise and smell of bat guano) and the hike back to the entrance was nice.
After the cave, we wanted to hike to a local Karen Hill Tribe village called Ban Muang Phaem. It was supposed to be about eight kilometers away. I guess we should have listened to the Canadian kid last night when he said "it was straight up and then straight down!" which indeed it was.
Our reception was nothing short of spectacular. Someone must have rung the special "tourist" bell and within five minutes, a dozen different women had crowded around us with scarves, shawls, sarongs and various other woven stuff, eager to sell their wares. While Cindy looked at all the weavings and bargained, I shot pictures of the old women and kids. Cindy blew up some colorful balloons for the kids which they had a blast with. There were no men to be seen and we figured they were out in the fields working (or perhaps drinking...)
We actually ended up seeing one of the motorcycle taxi drivers in the village and hoped to flag him down for a ride back to avoid the long hike but to no avail.
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We ended up having dinner at the Seven Elephants Café, the little restaurant in our guesthouse which was really good. Then we found out that somehow we missed the elephants at Ban Muang Phaem - oh well, those things smell and aren't that comfy anyway.
Tomorrow we are heading to Mae Hong Son.