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Published: September 10th 2013
The town of Chiang Dao is a small and sleepy place and people tend to come for the relaxation and pampering at the spas in the beautiful settings. Its one significant attraction is the Chiang Dao monastery, which includes various temples but, more interestingly, a cave complex.
The caves themselves aren't all that special but the experience of walking through them is fantastic as there is almost no lighting, instead you hire a guide who comes equipped with an old-fashioned lamp and lights your way through the pitch dark and (in theory at least) gives a short guided tour (in my case the guide's English was limited to pointing at various rocks and naming the animal they looked like - "camel", "turtle", etc). There are bats living the in the cave (the guide shone the light at the ceiling and said "Batman!") and you can sense but not see them whooshing about. At other points the caves are narrow and you almost have to crawl through gaps. The caves are supposed to be a religious site and there are various icons and altars at different points, some very old and deep into the caves, but the guide wasn't remotely reverential
and it seems that most people - including the Thais - come for the spooky experience.
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