Located in the province of Ratchaburi, about an hour from Bangkok is Chompol Cave, one of the area’s main attractions. From a small opening in the rock face there’s a flimsy wooden staircase that leads down into the darkness below. As you descend deep within the cave, the first thing that hits you is how hot and humid the air is below ground. You are momentarily blind to your surroundings, until your eyes finally adjust to the darkness, by which time you get a glimpse of the towering limestone stalactites and stalagmites that are illuminated with multicoloured lights. Every so often a cloud of screeching bats comes hurting last; it’s a decent that’s not for the faint hearted.
The prospect of going underground is one that has freaked me out a bit, ever since seeing the film The Decent, which I wish I could un-see. However I didn’t let my over-active imagination get the better of me on this occasion. Although initially it does feel a bit counter-intuitive venturing below ground into the darkness, with millions of tonnes of rock above your head, it actually transpired to be rather a peaceful and awe-inspiring experience.
Deep within Chompol Cave is a Buddhist shrine where worshippers congregate to say prayers and leave offerings for the monks.
At the deepest depths of the cave, through a very narrow walkway in a crevice in the rocks there was a small group of people congregated around a well. My friend explained that it is good luck to throw in a coin, so I took a 1 Baht coin from my pocket and did exactly that.