After being in Chiang Mai for several months I was ready to get out of town for a little trip. With Tee busy at work, I invited a couple friends to come exploring with me and we set out with rough plans to travel around Baan Tham Lod and Baan Mae Lana for a week. I’d been interested in visiting Tham Lod (Lod Cave) since my first motorbike trip through Pang Mapha with Tee in 2014 and my interested was reignited after seeing that nearby caves were home to waterfall climbing fish. Baan Mae Lana had caught my attention through a couple different avenues: Community Based Tourism (CBT) in northern Thailand, off the beaten track trekking, and my favorite food blog.
I traveled to Pang Mapha with visions of kayaking through Lod Cave and cave fish splish-splashing up waterfalls in my head. When we arrived we saw that Cave Lodge offered lots of caving and trekking tours, but what really caught our attention were a few hand drawn maps for DIY hikes. All my desires to kayak through the cave disappeared in favor of a good wander. We spent the next two days poking around, mostly on our own.
On Sunday we set off with our 3 puppy guides for a hike up The Big Knob.
We took a couple wrong turns by following the path most traveled, in the shade of the banana trees, and wandered around the corn and soy bean fields for a bit. After being smothered in inescapable butterfly love,
we got back on track and crossed a fence,
climbed the steep path, scrambled up the rocks, and were rewarded with grand valley views.
The next day we were at Tham Lod just as they opened and shared the cave with only the swallows. We took a short tour through the cave led by a woman from the village. I have found that so many of these cave tours are alike….this rocks looks like…???….a tiger!….a turtle!… and on and on. Even so we learned a few new things and enjoyed the tour much more than we expected, a relief after being scared off by the deep crowds the afternoon before.
Part 2: Visiting the Karen village Baan Muang Paem.