Epic tale of the cave sleep out
It was a beautiful day to hike up to the cave. Sunshine, clear sky and good friends; perfect way to start with our adventure. We got to the top at 5 pm and we started to settle and make the fire to warm us up and cook the food with the mahouts. They got there 30 minutes after we did, which gave us some time to improve our fire making skills and prevent “the useless gola” reputation. It was hard, it took us forever to start it, which is really embarrassing because the mahouts make it seem so simple and easy. They gave us a hand and the fun night started.
Pati Siee’s sling shots are popular around the village and along with the mahouts we decided to give them some use. We went with the mahouts into the cave searching for bats or should I say dinner. Being inside the cave was exiting, the lack of oxygen and the flappy sound the bats made when they flew right next to you, made the search so much more interesting. Not having much light (we were using some cheap torches), was kind of a disadvantage for us to actually see the bats and properly aim at our targets. One of the bats hooked itself into a big crack next to me, I tried to be silent, and considering that no matter how low you speak the echo would go against you. I told Towee about the huge bat hanging a few centimeters away from me and they didn’t hesitate to get close and shoot it with a rock and the sling shot. It seemed we got the jack pot with the first bat, after that they went crazy and we were able to get a three week bat breakfast/lunch/dinner feast. It might seem weird that us ‘golas’, were involved in the bat massacre, but being part of every cultural aspect with the village people and mahouts is one of the main enjoyments of the project, even when it’s bizarre nutrition related aspects. Enough is enough we decided and we headed back to the camp (lucky us, because you can really feel the lack of oxygen at one point, not such a good way to go I’ll have to say!).
After eating so many bugs inside the cave, which is inevitable, we were ready for the meal the mahouts were cooking. Believe it or not those little bats can easily fill the cave with poop and attract all sorts of insects for us to eat while we open our mouths to breath, talk or yawn. Strangely we had some rice; let me tell you, getting rice in Huay Pakoot is like winning the lottery, it’s definitely a one in a life time thing. To our surprise it was more than great, some fried rice with soy sauce, egg and veggies made us recover from the long hike we had hours before.
Nothing better than games after a great dinner! Playing card games with the mahouts is a bucket list thing we should all do. No matter how big the language barrier is, card games is like love;it is the international language we all feel and speak. For me, Galopey was the one who had a blast at that time; just playing by his own rules and feeling like a champ every time he lost (which was pretty much every single round).
To break a little bit the ice, I decided to amuse everyone with my weirdness. As a kid I saw a show on TV where one kid was able to imitate a crying baby perfectly and back then I gave it a shot and found myself discovering a unique inner talent. We were all gathered, golas and mahouts and I showed them the great “ability” I was born with, and so I started my crying baby imitation. Different reactions, to what I thought it’s a funny talent, were observed. Most of us just laughed but Sombat thought I was possessed and freaked out.
After some scary events like my crying and having fun with the bats and the games we all went to bed. Most would believe that one blanket would be enough while sleeping at Huay Pakoot, let me tell you I believed that myself and I was so wrong. I managed to take a shirt out of my backpack and use it as pants to warm my naked legs, but believe me it was not enough.
Now probably I’ll tell you the most embarrassing part of our sleepover. It’s such a bad idea to drink so much water when you are in the wilderness. Waking up at 1 am and having this: I need to pee feeling SUCKS. But still I decided to be brave and go against the odds of some wild creature attacking me while I peed and walked out the cave, went a little bit further and did my business. I almost found the perfect spot to do what a was meant to do, but before I got to that spot I noticed that I was wearing only socks and surprise surprise, I stepped on someone else’s pee. Advice one: never drink so much water before going to bed when you are camping in the middle of nowhere, advice two: If you didn’t follow advice one at least make sure you use shoes to avoid stepping on someone else’s fluids.
The cave hike was an amazing experience, not every day you get the chance to sleep in Thailand, in the wild and spend time with such great people. Definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
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