We wore flip-flops. This was a mistake. In fact, my husband’s sandal broke halfway through the hike and he humbly accepted the local guide’s shoe after much debate. The guide insisted my husband not go barefoot. He was right to insist, though neither shoe nor flip-flop were much help along this slimy underground path through Khao Mai Kaew Cave.
When my husband and I first discovered Khao Mai Kaew Cave on the island of Ko Lanta, a local — whose home was the final stop on the hike — guided the tour. The tour is still guided by locals, but the cave has since become a national park and costs around 200 baht instead of the 50 baht it cost just a year prior.
But, the cave system bares its weight in baht, promising sights unseen by most above-ground dwellers. Large spiders lurk, illuminating their paths with what seem to be miniature headlamps, much like the ones we wore to light our own steps. It’s an art form shimmying through tight spots and making that final ascent from the cave in near-yoga form. Before exiting, a party of bats host their own farewell party dangling from their toes.
On the hike back keep an eye out for more critters and check out one of the many exports: rubber. Watch as the white substance slowly drips into leaves that catch it before the liquid tire falls into its not-so-final resting place.