Chiang Dao : "Thiss waa look like Fun!"

Chiang Dao Travel Blog

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Self portrait in bus roof. (me looove this happy-accident photo!)

Well, my one night of discomfort in Mae Hong Son over and done with, I still managed to drag my sorry ass to the bus station and catch a coach back to the safety and home comforts of SpicyThai in Chiang Mai, passing through Pai once more en route. One day of recovery too.

I’m on a mission to start heading back down south now. My 30 days visas speeding towards its conclusion and I’m yet to see a stretch of silvery Thai sand. The plan is to just grab a couple of days sun ‘n’ fun paradise on my way to the very south of Thailand where I will cross the land / water border from the Thai island of Ko Lipe to the Malaysian island of Langkawi as part of an extended visa run.

The pond besides the Chiang Dao caves
More a visa holiday you might say. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Today I’m just gonna take a day trip up 60 kilometres or so north and east of Chiang Mai to the town of Chiang Dao. Whilst I’m sure there are many points of interest in this mid-point town between Chiang Mai and the northern provincial capital ( I think?) of Chiang Rai I am only going today for one purpose. A brief visit to walk around the Chieng Dao caves. This involves a bus ride first and then a fixed price Sangthaew taxi out to the cave and temple complex.

There are a series of interconnected, mostly natural caves present here within the mountain. Now a place of tourism, shrines, buddhas and holy veneration they were once - if my memory doesn’t trick me - used also by various waves of political insurrectionists for hiding and protection.

Chiang Dao cave and temple complex
Whilst one of the caves (Buddha Cave; Thum Num) is electrically lit along its 660m extent most of them are not and it is required that you pay for the company and services of a Thai cave guide who walks ahead of you, large gas lamp in hand. I am to be guided by the demure Nithaya.

First into the gloomy recess of the Thum Ma cave at 735m winding metres long. The ‘guided tour’ essentially consists of stumbling, slipping and following along behind the steady-footed Nithaya who beyond responses to my 3 or 4 sentences of Thai small talk limits her interactions to lifting her lamp towards various limestone formations, crafted patiently by nature through the drip-drip-dripping of millennia, and her exclaiming in broken English (clearly the only English she has learnt bless her!) what these geological sculptures are believed to resemble.

The light is lifted. “Thiss waa loo like elepharn!”.

Statuary hides within the caves
Elephant?! Really? Umm? Okay love I’ll give you that I guess. “Thiss waa loo like three elepharn head!” Hmmm… not bad, not bad, but the resemblance is tenuous at best m'dear. We walk on. Nithaya is very good at making sure not to lose me and to check that I don’t slip or bump my head. Light lifted once more. “Thiss waa loo like lion!” "Thiss waa loo like fooball plitch!" ... “Thiss waa loo like chlicken!” Okay, that one actually does look somewhat like a chicken. Pointing to a spherical rock upon the ground “Thiss waa loo like chlicken shit!” She laughs. Water drops slowly, eternally onto the same lime encrusted spots upon the ground forming small, firm but gelatinous looking, glistening lumps upon the cave floor.
"Thiss waa loo like chlicken!" I guess so Nithaya :)
In maybe seven thousand years time a limestone stalagmite will have commenced blossoming from the spot towards the cave roof. “Theess waas loo like flied eggs!”. That they do matey.  That they do.

Crawling through small cave wall openings. Ducking and slipping. Some manmade steps occasionally to aid one’s passage. A series of calcified rock banks form an amusing natural portrait frame but the shy Nithaya declines to have her picture taken so I step forward, always happy to make a twonk of myself in front of a lens instead. Nithaya stands, light in hand, and points “This waa loo like why lock!” Excuse me? “Thiss waa loo like why lock!” Sorry Nithaya I don’t understand. “White lock.

Nithaya : the Lady of the Lamp
White lock. Thiss waa why lock!” Oh I seeee! Umm? Yes indeed, following the line of her emphatic finger one’s eyes indeed settle… on … a white… rock. Well there’s no disputing that one at least. It is indeed a rock that is white. LOL

My tour with the amusing Nithaya over, I stroll around another of the caves, snapping away at some of the Buddhist statuary that’s either been carved, but more often than not placed within the rocky crevices. I head back into the sunlight and stroll; sit down besides a large pond where super sized carp fish swim around in large numbers. Food can be purchased and fed to the fish for “Good Merit”. I decide to feed myself whilst staring at the fish and contemplating how admirably sized the breasts of Hindu - Buddhist goddesses always are. “Hey man! My waters run deep on the subject of religion I swear!”

Not a lot else to be done. So back to town for a dozy ride back ’home’ on the bus and a final super-chill session at my home away from home SpicyThai.

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Self portrait in bus roof.  (me lo…
Self portrait in bus roof. (me l…
The pond besides the Chiang Dao ca…
The pond besides the Chiang Dao c…
Chiang Dao cave and temple complex
Chiang Dao cave and temple complex
Statuary hides within the caves
Statuary hides within the caves
Thiss waa loo like chlicken!  I …
"Thiss waa loo like chlicken!" I…
Nithaya : the Lady of the Lamp
Nithaya : the Lady of the Lamp
Cave entrance
Cave entrance
Lime stone formations
Lime stone formations
Thiss waa look like ME! ;D
"Thiss waa look like ME!" ;D
Entranceway to the Chiang Dao cave…
Entranceway to the Chiang Dao cav…
Fellow cave dwellers on the day.
Fellow cave dwellers on the day.
Chedi complex at Chiang Dao caves …
Chedi complex at Chiang Dao caves…
Wat lok Molee back in Chian Mai
Wat lok Molee back in Chian Mai
Milennias worth of slowly crystal…
Milennia's worth of slowly crysta…
Wot Lok Molee in Chiang Mai
Wot Lok Molee in Chiang Mai
Beautifully monk-carved art at Wat…
Beautifully monk-carved art at Wa…
Fab elephant sculpture at Wat Lok …
Fab elephant sculpture at Wat Lok…
Wat Lok Molee
Wat Lok Molee
Chiang Dao
photo by: Stevie_Wes