Exploring in a town where no one speaks English and everyone stares at you can be a bit intimidating sometimes. While I wanted to explore when I first got to Dan Chang, I was the only new person & the teachers already here were already over it. Therefore, I did much less exploring than I should have. #ragrets
Luckily, my friend Steve (the teacher who was new this semester) gives zero shits about social norms when it comes to talking to strangers. He went on a date with some Thai girl in town who threw him in her pickup truck and brought him to these random-as-hell in-the-middle-of-nowhere caves about a 25-minute drive from town.
Perks of Steve Heffner trying to get Thai’d down(lol at myself) – this past week he showed me the caves, which neither of us EVER would have found had Sacajawea not brought him here.
Wat Wang Khan
This is the temple where the caves are located. After 25 minutes of driving down this long never-ending rural highway and surviving a mild heart-attack over running low on gas, we freaking made it. I’m legitimately impressed by people who can drive bikes on road trips and such, even 25 minutes was less than comfortable.
My crappy little scooter also clearly isn’t meant for that kind of athletic activity; when I pulled the gas back full throttle the engine decided to cut out. And to think I thought I looked like a badass driving a motorbike when I first got to Dan Chang.
Weruwanna go? Weruwan Cave
We hiked up a bunch of poorly-maintained “stairs,”, past a happy chubby Chinese Buddha, and down a creepy opening. I’d definitely say the “stairs” were more slide than stairs.
As I was carefully scaling the “stairs” in the black abyss the cave Esteban yelled up “YOOOOOO there’s snakes down here!” to confirm that we were, in fact, in an Indiana Jones movie. He didn’t actually see any snakes, he had just been informed by his Thai spirit guide that snakes lived in the cave. Maybe next time.
Have you ever been in a cave alone? I don’t know if it’s the lack of air circulation, the low elevation, or the heebie jeebies emitted in such a place; but every cave I’ve visited has had a blaring stillness to it. The killing cave I visited in Battambang, Cambodia had the same creepy vibe. And I thought that was just because of all the people that had died there. But nope, I mean maybe this cave is haunted too, but it had the same creepy calm to it.
Buddha Buddha Buddha Buddha Rockin’ Everywhereeeee
The caves were seemingly normal (as far as big, empty, and full of doom goes) until I rounded a corner and was met with a huge Buddha statue sitting underneath a patch of light coming through the cave roof.
Then Steve hit the lights on the cave and the other Buddha statues were revealed. There were a couple buddha heads melded into the rocks, a couple of smaller buddhas surrounding the big buddha, a buddha behind a cage, and a buddha next to a well.
It was actually kind of sick to see a cave in Thailand that wasn’t made for tourists, and was specifically made for the temple and associated purposes. I don’t know too much about Buddhism, but I wonder if there are other caves like these throughout Thailand? The caves were clearly still in use for worship, as there were the same little soft drink offerings and what not seen at other shrines throughout Thailand.
So Teen, what’s the point of this less-than exciting story of you intruding on someone’s Buddha shrine? Where are the snakes? Where are the goblins? When do the demons come in and drag you off to the underworld?
My point is that it was cool to see something so exotic in the middle-of-nowhere in Thailand. Finding something exotic that isn’t touristy can be rare at times in Thailand. Local vibes.
Another point – date locals so they can take you to local spots. Haaaaa just kidding! Half-kidding. But a Tinder date is cheaper than paying for a tour.
After leaving through the MUCH more stable side staircase that Steve failed to point out upon entry, we chatted with some of the Thai people building a reservoir (I think?) next to the temple. They were living out of a trailer and in the process of making dinner on a folding table. Steve is awesome at not being shy about taking pictures of locals, and I’ve been trying to take a page out of his book.
We talked to them in broken Thai-English and snapped pictures for about 20 minutes. Enjoy the results.