Friday, August 1


Monday's are generally the volunteer's "day off." Even though the mojito bar is still open there are no evening activities with the students, such as English class or dance class. So five of us set off an our rented bicycles to explore some of the caves in the area. Within 100 meters my bike broke, or I should say my second bike broke as I had already exchanged my first bike because only the back break worked and just barely at that. But with the second bike it would make noises like it was trying to change gears - but it's a fixed gear bike - and then the chain would stop moving all together. So I took it back and got my first bike back.

It was an easy 7 km cycle on the "highway." We were passed by only a few cars and motor bikes and the cows kept to the sides of the road, mostly. Then we reached the turnoff for the caves. This was tougher cycling down a rocky, muddy road, but beautiful, past rice fields. It led us to the river where the bridge only had 2 half-missing boards. We continued along an irrigation ditch, throughout which children were frolicking in a way universal to 5 year olds.

Finally we reached the first cave. You pay 10,000 kip (roughly $1.50) and they lend you a flashlight. There are no signs, no guid, just a path to follow. We made it inside and the cave went really deep. It was dark, full of stalagtites and bats and was everything a cave should be.

Next we headed back along the irrigation ditch to a second cave. This time only 3 of us went in - the other 2 decided caves weren't really their thing. Same thing, 10,000 kip, torch, and a longer walk to the cave. More climbing to get in and immediately we hear the rushing water. We go in maybe 150 meters before we hit the rushing stream. I wade into my knees and we decide it'd be too dangerous to try to cross and the water is flowing so fast, so we return. There the guy who took our money says that if we'd crossed there would have been a small shelf we could have climbed on. The water would have reached somewhere between our hips and breasts. Did I mention how fast it was flowing? But apparently in dry season you can go back about a kilometer!

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