|Cave is marked as river tunnel on left of picture.|
I set of for a 4 day trip with a sore knee which I had done by tripping over whilst walking back to my room, it doesn't seem to want to heal, so perhaps some exercise will aid it's recovery. I cant say I was really looking forward to the ride but decided to do it anyway, so instead of a usual route I opted for a new one to make it more interesting, well that certainly worked as it was very muddy....
|It looked muddy and it was...|
The route got harder and the pace slowed as I got bogged down by some small muddy rivers, paddy fields and Jungle trails, some of it was quiet beautiful with some nice trails and as it was a new route it was all new to me...
|Nice views, the dry parts were spectacular.|
|Nice section of trail.|
I fell of on one part that had been torn up by the animals, the bike fell on me, I couldn't get my sore knee from under the bike, which made me chuckle a bit......it soon became unfunny when I noticed fuel dripping onto the hot exhaust...it didn't take long for me to get free from the bike and stop the leak.
It really doesn't take much for your day to go wrong what if the bike had caught fire or my knee had been injured further, this was not a good location for such problems as there was nobody else around. I do travel with survival and medical kit as well as a SOS beacon, but you still have to get to medical care which could be a long way away with serious injury. The best preparation can only aid you in such situations, returning home safe is above everything else.
Back on the trails and I passed through a few villages and stopped for some cold drinks, extremely friendly people is this neck of the woods....I will go back....
|They asked me if I liked her...|
|This guy had a camera, great English as well|
|This guy was trying to fix me up..|
I continued down the last part of the trail to the cave, lots of mud and some interesting bridges...this one had a turn that dropped away and then rose again......
|Loose boards everywhere.|
I arrived at the cave about 4pm and talked to the guy selling tickets, it was to late to enter now so I decided to go find a camp spot, I went back through the village and headed into the jungle down a small track soon finding what I considered a nice spot to camp for the night. It was super hot with many flies about so I decided to get a fire going to smoke them out...whilst I was smoking them out I put my Hammock up, it would soon be dark.
|Bike Parking at the cave.|
I could hear some children playing in the distance and their voices grew closer until they were about 40 feet away then they turned onto the track passing within 20 feet of me, they saw me so I waved and said hello, they giggled and carried on their merry way, I had been spotted. Forty minutes later 2 guys on a Honda passing by checking me out, I acknowledge them as they rode on...
|My Hotel for the night|
Night falls and the heat starts to drop cooling the air, I get into my hammock and stretch out ready for sleeping, it's a beautiful night. It's not long before I hear voices coming my way there are 3 local villagers with torches coming down the trail towards me until they are peering into my Hammock at me,they asked me what I was doing and informed me I could not stay here I must come with them to the Village were I can stay in the guest house, I told them I didn't want a guest House and that I was happy here.....I was told no way I must pack up my kit and return to the village with them......time to pack.
I rode back into the Village, as we passed through more and more people start to follow us, I was given a phone and told to talk? A lady asked me what was wrong in English...I explained that I had chosen to camp as I had no information about any guest house in the area, she asked to talk to phones owner and explained what I was doing which was then explained to the crowd, everybody starts laughing....I get told to go the building at the end of the track where the English speaking lady from the government is waiting for me, along with Laos Start TV film crew staying at the unknown village guest house.
|Village guest House with my Hammock underneath.|
|The man from Laos Star TV|
Her Name was Noi with a film crew shooting a program about the Mangkone Cave for Laos TV, there 5 of them so we shared some food and a few drinks, I was informed the guest house was full but I could sleep under it so I put up my hammock and tried to sleep, unfortunately a party in the village would not allow this until the small hours...How I wished I had not been found...
|Sunrise over the Village was Mythical.|
|I went for a look around the Village whilst waiting for the other to rise...war Scarp.|
The evening before Noi had asked me to join them on a trip through the cave how could I refuse? of we went to the cave where we were met by the man selling tickets, It cost me more as I'm not local. I was pointed in the way of a small trail that followed a lake and started the hike to the cave entrance, my knee was not good and the undulating trail was not making for an easy walk.
|Long walk to the cave.|
|Lots of Fish.|
|More Dodgy bridges.|
|Birds exciting the cave.|
|Noi taking a rest.|
After a painful walk to the cave entrance the film crew climb aboard the boats and set of into the darkness, I have to wait for the 3rd boatman.....
On his arrival we jump into the boat and head off, with the boat is listing to the left no water anywhere so I decide it's safe enough but the list had made me feel uneasy as we are in a cave.... we soon catch up the other group and there powerful lights show of how big this Cave really is, we then arrived at a what looked like the end with a rock section to climb, my knee will not go up there, if the others are going climbing I'm going to head back. they decide to climb over so the 2 of us head back but the Captain has no flash light, I have mine and a spare so I will illuminate they way....bad move.
It's much darker without the lights from the other boats and I'm not enjoying this at all, I have know idea how these guys navigate in here it's a labyrinth of small tunnels big tunnels and rock formations, it all looks the same and the boat flips over to the left and we are both in the water we had struck a rock..my first though was my bag which I managed to grab and pulled it up over my head, I couldn't touch the floor the Life vest was a good move.
I had bike gear on and was a lot heavier next thing I needed was the boat so with my other hand I felt around and grabbed it, it was floating just under the water....
I then noticed my torch tethered to my wrist still working, without the torch and life jacket I fear things may have worked out very differently.
The film crew had heard all the commotion and came back to check on us, I had already walked back up the trail, my camera was ruined so the trip was over for me if I cant take pictures I might as well be at home so I said my goodbyes and set of for Thakhet to get a hotel and dry out
About 50ks from Thakhet it rained really hard which is not expected at that time of year, I got wet again which added to my misery but when I think of what might have happened things look a whole lot brighter. Laos is not the place to have accidents.