The caving season is now underway and as I have run out of inspiration for writing witty and amusing trip reports I'll concentrate on the 'log' part of blog.
17 November 2009 – Tham Phet, Krabi
With Simon Brooks (Orpheus CC) and Shary Ghazy (DAV Frankfurt) to survey this cave near Ao Luk, 20km north of Krabi town. The cave is fairly well sign posted. Entrance is at 47P 475527 0927431. The cave has around 300m of main passage to a static sump, the level of which varies a lot depending on the season. There is also a couple of hundred metres of side passages. A long Cave Racer snake and a small ampygylid caused some excitment.
18 November 2009 – Tham Sra Yuon Thong, Krabi
With Simon and Shary on another surveying trip. Again the cave is sign posted with entrance co-ordinates of 47P 472366 0924046. This cave turned out to be much longer than expected with four routes between the resurgence entrance and the large main entrance. Took 5 hours to survey the place. The main entrance is huge – 90m wide and 40m high. Another pool of water was found near the 'Swallet Entrance'. This was dived by Alex Fletcher in December 2009 who found that it was blind and only 3m deep. Alex also dived the larger 'L' shaped pool to the north. One passage heads back towards the entrance pool, but closes in at a depth of 10m. Another large flooded passage with scalloping heads north-east down to a depth of 18m and ends abruptly. The eastern side of this section is covered with a very long mud slope – probably an underwater continuation of the mud and rubble slope in the main chamber. The length of this cave is around 750m.
19 November 2009 – Caving & kayaking trip, Ban Bo Tho, Krabi
I hadn't done the kayaking trip to visit caves in the mangrove forests to the west of Ao Luk so was joined by Simon, Shary, Ivan Hollis (Shepton Mallet CC) and Yuphin Sopha. Set off in 3 canoes with Ivan being paddled along by the guide.
The first cave is Tham Lot (47P 466002 0925989) which is up the first creek on the left as you paddle downstream. It is a 125m long through cave, about 5m wide. Surveying this from the kayaks was novel, but we eventually sussed out a technique.
Back in the main river continue downstream and take the next creek on the left. This goes past Tham Phi Hua To and after a few hundred metres there is an obscure, narrow side inlet (47P 465677 0925812) where you negotiate the mangroves to the base of the limestone cliff to reach a short through cave. This was called Tham Lagoon by our guide, but is also known as Tham Lot Tai. It is 20m long and opens out into a hong (collapsed cave chamber) 50m across.
Returning to base we stopped at Tham Phi Hua To (47P 465848 0926216). This has a concrete quay and sign boards. It is a dry cave about 100m long and is famous for the ancient pictographs.
20 November 2009 – Tham Saeng Phet, Krabi ถ้ำแสวงพชร
This small temple cave is to the west of the road south of Ban Thap Phrik and Krabi (47P 488011 0902340). The temple is heavily developed, but the cave consists of just a large overhang with about 20m of passage cutting through a rock buttress at one end.
21 November 2009 – Tham Khao Phueng, Krabi
This cave is promoted as a tourist attraction. It is north of Ban Thap Phrik, a couple of kilometres before you reach the Khao Phanom Bencha National Park. Follow a track on the right (south) for about 1km to where a small sign shows where to turn right again into the palm plantation. This rough track ends after a few hundred metres where there is a toilet block and picnic area. A lady waiting outside will be hap to receive a hundred baht for hiring one of her lights for a trip. The cave is access via a wooden ladder and walkway around the cliff to the small main entrance that is about 20m above the base of the hill (47P 489790 0910124). The cave is formed on two levels.
The upper level has some pools of water that are crossed by a wooden boardwalk that has, in places, fallen into serious disrepair. Eventually you reach a large bat chamber and then onto an entrance on the other side of the hill. From here another knackered boardwalk leads around the base of the hill back to the car park.
Access to the lower level is down a climb near the main entrance. The lower level has about 100m of fairly large passage that closes down in one direction and ends at an entrance in a cliff in the other.
The cave was surveyed with Simon, Shary and Ivan on a 5 hour trip.
22 November 2009 – Tham Khlang, Krabi
Another cave promoted and developed for tourists. It is sign posted to the west of Highway 4 a few kilometres south of Ao Luk. A second large sign indicates where to turn off along a track that ends right at the entrance to the cave (47P 472314 0921350). Our guide then led us over the wooden boardwalks into this very well decorated cave. As we (Simon, Shary, Ivan and I) were surveying progress was slow and it took 4 hours to work our way through the 500m of passage to a second entrance. The guide pointed out a link to the upper levels (there are two) and at the flooded second entrance indicated another wet passage that went for quite a distance. This is a very interesting cave is well worth a visit.
23 November 2009 – Tham Hom, Surat Thani
This temple cave is just over the border from Krabi into Surat Thani province. The isolated limestone hill is off the beaten track, but is heavily developed as a retreat so has a few sign posts. The cave is at the base of a tower (47P 500160 0927692); the largest entrance has a colony of bats; the next cave has been developed as a shrine by the monks and is linked by a small passage to the bat cave. The cave was visited with Ivan Hollis.
29 November 2009 – Tham Bohisattva, Loei
Tham Phothisat is a series of canyons and short caves near Ban Pha Luang to the south of Loei town (47Q 796254 1891175) which has been developed as a tourist attraction. Our (Steve Smith and I) guide took us around in less than an hour. There are about 4 short caves and a couple of hundred metres of canyons. The grey limestone has a lot of thin chert beds and is havily folded and faulted.
Nearby is a short shrine cave where a ladder leads up the cliff to another short cave used by a monk at the top of the hill.
30 November 2009 – Tham Phra Wang Daeng, Phitsanulok
With Steve Smith on a tourist trip to the longest cave in Thailand. It now isn't possible to drive to the entrance so you have to park at the gates to the wat. We started off by looking at the large dry passages up to the right where you join the stream and then up the otherside of the streamway to find a bypass to the first canal. Back in the stream we wandered as far as the first really deep water (Martin) or the first inlet (Steve). On the way back we didn't bother with the bypass and followed the guide rope through the canal which was just about passable without swimming. The four hour trip was a good introduction to this cave which still has several open leads.