Friday, August 5, 2011

Spontaneous Spelunking

So it was our last day in Laos. We had accidentally slept 18 hours the night before and only had a few hours to do anything before catching our bus. We heard of this place called the Blue Lagoon outside of town and hired a tuk tuk to drive us there in the pouring rain.

After paying a few bridge trolls hellish fees to cross the river and having to switch tuk tuks because ours was falling apart, we drove through the hillsides of rice field and limestone cliffs like something out of King Kong's lost world or something. Except instead of a giant ape trying to kill us, it was a fat tuk tuk driver trying NOT to kill us, avoiding pot holes in the dirt road that had turned into a mud pit.

After a few miles, he backed up into this little bridge over a brown muddy creek. "Blue lagoon," he said, pointing. Damn. We miscalculated that one. It was neither blue, nor was it a lagoon, technically. Well, when in Rome...

So we paid the final BT the 10,000 kip to get over the bridge and decided to go wander around a cave instead of swimming in this lagoon in the pouring rain. We rented a head lamp (because we were too cheap to pay the extra dollar for two head lamps) and headed up this cliff with small stairs carved into it and loose bamboo railings leading us up to the entry. The stairs had become a small creek in the rain and it was probably my bad to attempt this in my flip flops and swim suit.

We made it onto the cave drenched, and were both immediately blown away. It was huge. It was like nothing I've ever seen. And of course, we had no camera on us (so these pics are from Google). We made it into the foyer of the cave, whatever that is called in spelunking terms, and there was a beautiful reclining Buddha there to greet us.

After that is was just darkness, with signs pointing us in one of two directions, "slippery," and "not slippery," or "danger." So we kept walking, climbing and slipping around until the darkness swallowed us, leaving us alone with our headlamp and instincts. My instincts, of course, led me to walk towards the sign that said "danger." Tom's instincts were to lead me away from there.

But it was crazy. Bats sleeping on the ceiling hundreds of feet above us, rain water dripping in rock formations that looked like monsters in the light.

Once we had enough of that kind of thrill seeking, we continued the adventure of trying to make it back down the cliff in one piece.

Back at the bridge, soaking wet, sweaty and nearly late for our check out, we decide just to jump in the lagoon. I mean, why not? It was freezing with rain water and although it looked like a small creek, you couldn't touch the bottom, even when canon-balling off the tree that stretched over.

Quick swim. Ride back to town. Check out of the hotel and make it to the bus just in time. And then we wait. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. An hour. Apparently things don't work exactly on time in Laos.

And that's when I check our 8 p.m. train tickets to make sure we'll make it on time. And there, under departure time, where an 8 should have been, there was a 6. Oops. There goes our train tickets.

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