Welcome to the Jungle
Recently, I was taken about 60km north of Chiang Mai to explore the jungle, to see the wilderness, and to pray that I wouldn’t be eaten alive by giant bugs. The guides promised to show me the pristine wilderness of the north and said I would be the first farang to see many of these sights and abseil down the ‘Great Limestone Waterfall’. While in the jungle I saw the sights, heard the sounds, and smelled the funk that makes the lush rainforest such an amazing place.
My guide, Jo-Joe, made the ‘first foreigner’ claim when he showed me Kad Phee, a reddish clay scar that cuts through the lush rainforest. The local story is that every night spirits sweep the area and clean it. I was then taken to a 700 year old abandoned temple. Where there was previously a village, but it was deserted centuries ago and now only the brick temple ruins remain. Some readers with good memories, and bad taste in cinema, could recognise the temple from 2008’s Rambo when Sylvester Stallone kills a cobra there.
The guides next took me to two caves. The first was Luang or ‘Batman Cave’ which smelled of guano and was filled with bats flying all around. Having never been that near bats before, it was very shocking to see the creatures fly so close to us. The next cave we saw was Nambo or ‘Water-well’ Cave. This cave is known for its large reservoir and during the rainy season fills to the brim with water. Near both cave entrances were areas where travelling monks can rest, along with small shrines, statues, and graffiti where monks wrote their prayers on the cavern walls.
But even as amazing as those sights were, the true highlight of the trip was abseiling down the ‘Great Limestone Waterfall’. The waterfall is approximately 75 metres high and unusual because of its limestone composition. Having never scaled down a garden fence before, let alone a tropical waterfall, I was initially terrified at the prospect, especially after peering over the edge. However the guides make the process very safe and have an excellent harness system that prevents any harm from coming to inexperienced climbers. Luckily, they are also very patient with their squealing and squirming guests and as we became accustomed to the climb, combated our paralysing terror, it just became pure fun.
After scaling down the sheer waterwall, we hiked to a smaller waterfall, called A-frame, that feeds into a little pool, so we relaxed by swimming and cleaned ourselves off before eating a light lunch. I was given a dish of tofu with vegetables and rice while the carnivores were served chicken sandwiches. We ended the trek at Pasakngam, ‘beautiful teak forest,’ a community park in the forest with a few buildings and tables for picnickers.
After lunch, the guides took us to Tham Bua Tong Cave. We ascended a giant staircase, when we reached the top it was absolutely worth the climb.
Wholeheartedly, I recommend for anyone searching for a fun wilderness adventure should consider booking a tour with Cliff Top Adventures Tour Company. The journey was an absolute blast along with being a great way to get out of my comfort zone and see the jungle. Just remember my final advice: wear hiking boots, prepare to get wet, and don’t look down when going over the falls.
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