When we came to our end of the rafting excursion in Mae Hong Son, we had the truck take us to Soppong, where we were going to find a taxi to take us 9km up the mountain to The Cave Lodge where we would spend a couple of nights and also celebrate New Years. When we got dropped off in Soppong there weren't any taxis or motorbikes(everyone was drunk apparently). The rafting company with the truck tried to rip us off by telling us they could drive us up to the lodge for 400 baht- We said no thanks and walked down the road looking for a guesthouse. After being turned down by 3, we finally found one for 300 baht. Baan Lek guest house. By this time we were beat from rafting and being in the sun all day and we needed to pass oput in order to last through midnight. So we ate some cheap food, bought a large Leo beer for after we wake up, and crashed in our bungalow for about an hour and a half. We woked up around 1030pm to realize we were nowherenear anything going on and every place was closed. The only thing going on was a group of people playing loud music and letting off obnoxious fireworks. They wanted nothing to do with they white boys. So after walking around for about an hour drinking our warm Thai beer and realizing that we were in a bad area to celebrate, we went back to the guest house and rang in the New Year there, by our selves.
01 January.... 2009!!!
After talking to the cook and her boyfriend at the guesthouse this morning, we strapped on our bags and started walking up to the cave lodge, in hopes to hitch a ride along the way. Not even 10 minutes had passed and we recieved a ride and jumped in back of a pick up for the 8 km up to the lodge. We got dropped off at the National park where the entrance of the main cave was in the area (Tham Lod). Tons of Thais were here as well, mainly camping. The cave lodge wasn't too far from there. We were able to get 2 beds in the dorm for 90 baht a night, which was a similar setup to the jungle accomodation from a couple nights ago and also when I was on my jungle trek.
This place(Cave Lodge) had a big party last night down by the river. Apparently a mini version of Burning Man stacked with fireworks. Too bad we missed out, but atleast we made it today! The are tons of caves here(the reason we came). The main cave you had to pay 300 baht for a guide and bamboo raft through the cave. Instead of doing this, the Cave Lodge had a much more appealing deal for just a bit more. Kayaking on the Nam Lang through the big cave along with 2 km of fun paddling down a few small rapids and a dam. The trip took a little over 2 hours using an inflatable kayak. Since the river was pretty low, they let us each have our own kayaks. A guy from New Zealand also joined us and he has been travelling as long as I had. Going through the cave was fun, but you had to dodge a number of bamboo rafts that were part of the park taking groups of 3 or 4 through the cave. Thanks god I didn't decide to do that! After the cave we paddled for about 1.5 hours. A few times I got stuck on a rock jam and had to jump out and lift my kayak over. It was a lot of fun going down the dam, and I got soaked as if I were going down The Tidal Wave in Magic Mountain. A lot of great cliffs here and jungle mountains to admire. Too bad my camera was in the dry bag for the majority of the trip.
The cave lodge seems like such a cool place and a perfect base for so many things I would like to do and can see myself doing, but we gotta head south on a couple looong buses, so it's better to split up the travel time and spend just one day and night at the lodge. Tomorrow --find our way back to Chiang Mai.