Dark and Slippery Adventures
“I don’t think this is the right cave,” Paul said.
“Let’s go to this one anyway,” I moaned. Carsickness overwhelmed me like a tide and I couldn’t bear the thought of going any further on those horrible curves. We had been watching for the sign for Lod cave for miles (hence the carsickness). The pictures in the brochure and on the billboards in Pai showed happy families, including little children and aged grandparents, riding into a cave on a raft. Further pictures showed them cheerfully trooping along lighted paths.
But we couldn’t find it. We took a side street which led through a small village and down a deteriorating, steep road. By then I was ready to take any cave, just as long as I could get out of the car.
The first clue that this wasn’t the same type of experience came when the guide handed us headlamps. Then he plunged into a stream and disappeared into a hole in the side of the mountain.
We shrugged, put on our headlamps and followed him.
In many ways this was far scarier than the elephant ride of earlier in the week. Wading through a rushing stream on slippery rocks, crossing a big log over a deep hole, then climbing over giant boulders — not the stuff this grandma does every day. As I scrambled after the guide, I thought about broken ankles. I barely got down into the cave with two feet. How would I climb out with only one? What if I broke both ankles? What if I broke both ankles and a wrist? No rescue teams here, and no 9-1-1 to call.
We came to some boards nailed together into a rickety ladder which stretched down into a dark abyss. It looked like it might have been last used by Marco Polo. Wan, our guide, swung down it and disappeared below. My turn. Paul was having a blast, and I didn’t want to be a spoilsport, but I did not want to go down that ladder. I stopped and talked it over with the Lord.
“Lord,” I said. “Here are my ankles. I surrender them to You. If I’m going to need them to do work for You, please take care of them. I give my bones to You and I’m not going to worry about them anymore.”
And I went down the ladder with an easy mind. From then on I enjoyed the trip. The cave was beautiful with glittering stalactites and stalagmites. Strange and graceful shapes reached down from the towering ceiling and bulged from the walls. Most of the trek led along the stream and into deep, dark pools. We were soaked to our waists in cold water, and yet sweat dripped down my face from the effort of climbing and balancing on the rocks. I wiped the trickles of perspiration away and felt the cave mud caking on my forehead and cheeks. And I was able to keep going down, down into the darkness.
Safety issues are no joke here in the east. In the US, you know there is no real danger attached to “adventures.” The government would shut down anything really dangerous. Anyway, someone would sue you silly if he got hurt, so no one is going to have anything remotely unsafe open to the public.
Here, they are relaxed about those things. No one sues. If you get hurt, it means you probably did something bad in a former life and had it coming to you. No one worries. Your safety, or lack of it, is your own business.
After an hour’s journey into the cave, we turned around and headed back out the way we came. It was still dark and slippery, but now I had the added excitement of climbing up the rocks when I was already exhausted. I thought of the book, “How Green Was My Valley.” It told of how the tired miners would slip and fall back into the pit when they tried to climb out after their shift of back-breaking labor. It was a sad book. Don’t think I’ll reread it.
At long last we clambered out into the hot sunshine. I did it! Paul, of course, wasn’t even winded and had thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I was thankful I was able to keep from spoiling his fun — and that I accomplished something I always wanted to do. It’s just that I wanted to do it when I was younger.
What a blessing to know that every part of my life belongs to the Lord and is kept by Him. Including my ankles!
We’ve been enjoying our short break. Since the Bible school ended and the conference is over, it seemed an ideal time to get away for a bit. We rented a little cabin at a crazily cheap rate, since it is the off season. It’s a tourist area, so we have been doing touristy things for the first time since we moved here. We’ve ridden an elephant, soaked in a natural hot spring, and now have explored a cave. Today I think we will just rest and recover a bit. At least I will. Paul is off on a bike ride.
Now we have a list of suggested activities to offer our guests who come visit us. However, I may let you go to the cave without me!
Blessings from Thailand,