26th April 2012

Kong Lo Cave, hidden in the rural jungle of Laos, is reputed to be one of the most creepiest places places on Earth.

I definitely thought that when my headlight flickered off halfway through the 7.5km long tail boat journey in the dark, I was in a boat full of strangers and a guide that spoke no English, the boat was slowly filling with water and all I could hear was echoing drips of water from unseen stalactites and a screech every now and again from an unidentified animal. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to start thinking of spiders the size of my fist slowly waiting to pounce of me, fangs dripping with venom. I flailed.

REWIND!

What did I do prior?

As you know, the day before, the 4 of us got there too late, and thus faced being stranded in rural Laos until we decided upon a homestay. It was goooooooooooood!

Waking up early in the morning thanks to a symphony of cockerels crowing, we slowly roused awake and I do remember sitting up groggily, rubbing my eyes and peered through the mosquito net in the fresh air and was astounded to see the whole family sat in front of us waiting for us to get up. Their beds were already packed away and all fully dressed. And probably impatiently waiting for us to get up so they could have their breakfast with us. Oops.

Quickly getting ready, we sat down quickly and had breakfast whilst we watched their kids get ready for school. It was certainly very filling for first thing in the morning. I finished my plate and proudly said ‘IMM!’ (I’m full!) and was not treated to another plateful. It worked.

After teaching the family some lingo and hand tricks such as the infamous west side pose, it was time to go and we said farewell to the family who treated us as their own. We were sure to miss them. I really enjoyed my stay and actually had one of the best night’s sleep ever since I started travelling!

Skipping in the sunshine and in the fresh air, we appreciated the scenery that laid before us as we headed off to the entrance of Kong Lo Cave.

Paying for the entrance fee, we donned our life jackets and head flashlights to model for the latest trends in Slowboat Travel…Does anyone think I got the child sized jacket?

 

We stumbled upon a problem. There could only be 3 people at any time in a boat meaning one of us have to go with strangers who also arrived. The solution? We all played rock, paper, scissors. Sod’s law dictated I lost the bet and I went off with the Americans.

Clambering over the jagged rocks of the mouth of the cave, we were greeted by a boatman waiting silently next to his long tail boat in the near darkness. I wished I had 2 pieces of silver coins on me, this was uncannily like the entrance to Hades, Greek underworld, with the evil boatman.

Stepping unsteadily on the swinging long tail boat, we set off silently on the 7.5km journey with only our flickering head flashlights for our company.

Slowly meandering past some rapids we pulled onto a cave system that showed contorted rock formations and I thought later some pretty nifty light systems to create a cave spooked by its own darkness. Check out the pics.

 

Time stood still as we floated on the boat again, and more than often we were told to get out of the boat into the water that lapped round our knees as we helped the boatman push the boat further upstream.

Temperature fluctuated on such a high degree that one minute I would be cold and the next scorching hot.

Screeching could be heard amongst the echoing drips of water but my headlight revealed nothing as I scanned across the cave, it’s ceilings higher than 3 houses stacked upon each other and sometimes we would have to duck…

This went on for 7.5km until we reached the opening to the other side..could this be Hades?

No, it was Kong Lo Village where cackling women tried to sell us trinkets, possibly for us to hold onto our good fortune of making it to the other side. But we still had to get back to the other end and this meant going back in.

That’s when my headlight gave up. Back to the beginning of this post…

I definitely thought that when my headlight flickered off halfway through the 7.5km long tail boat journey in the dark, I was in a boat full of strangers and a guide that spoke no English, the boat was slowly filling with water and all I could hear was echoing drips of water from unseen stalactites and a screech every now and again from an unidentified animal. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to start thinking of spiders the size of my fist slowly waiting to pounce of me, fangs dripping with venom. I flailed.

The boatman pushed us out of the boat, we were stuck on some rapids and hearing the screams from the other boat that contained my friends further upstream before us, we were truly in for it. Perhaps I should have bought a trinket after all. Goodbye cruel world.

Waiting for my life to flash before my eyes, the boat broke loose and started drifting off taking the boatman with it who gestured us to get back in, we gingerly stepped forward. Our legs sodden, one of the Americans fell through a huge hole of water that reached to hIs chest in shock and he managed to climb out and for all of us to climb back not the boat. There was no time to rejoice. We needed to empty the boat of water with our bare hands.

The other boat caught us up, turns out they bumped into another boat.

Still listening out in complete darkness as each of our headlights gave up me by one with my the boatman’s left, we strained our eyes seeing what could each reflection, ghost in the corner of our eyes would be.

Would we discover a whole new species or would be discovered by a lethal inbred family who like to feast on tall, dark and handsome blokes that has a hint of yorkshireness. I scare myself sometimes.

Finally, we reached to the other opening and rejoiced that we survived. It’s certainly been creepy and I’m sure that the spiders were waiting for me the day before…

But something had affected me and I remained quiet for the rest of the day as we grabbed 3 tuk tuks back to Thakek to find our bags still waiting for us and the guesthouse not burnt down. I still don’t know what affected me to this day but all I can say is that it feels like a small part of my soul has been cruelly and sneakily bitten off and to this day languishing in the depths of Kong Lo Cave, forever to run away from the darkness within…

Have you been to Kong Lo Cave?

 

 

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