Monday, July 09, 2012

Hiraodai Cave

 The other day, Jon and I decided to visit Hiraodai Park.  Actually, I decided that we'd visit the park and I should probably say "demanded if I'm being totally honest.  I wanted to get out of the city and do something different.  Most weekends, we just relax around the house, which is fine, and something I normally encourage, especially since I've been pregnant, but something was pulling me towards this park.  It was probably the fact that it would be the one day this month that was sunny. (Rainy season and all that.)  I had seen on their website that they had caves you could explore and I was sold.  Once I had put my foot down and insisted we go there, I started getting a little nervous.  The only way to get there was to take 30 minute train ride and then a fairly expensive taxi ride.  I read the website a little more clearly and found out that you can't explore all of the caves, some sections were blocked off, and the cave pictures on the website actually looked pretty lame.  Jon initially wanted to sleep in on Sunday, but he gamely prepared coffee Saturday night so he'd be able to wake up and go on this trip with me.  So after all that I was a little nervous that it would turn out to be an expensive dud of a trip.    

However, we went on our way and took the train to the middle of nowhere.  Luckily there was one taxi waiting at the station with the driver sleeping inside.  The station attendant asked us if we were heading to Hiraodai and once we said we were, he asked another question that we didn't catch.  ("Are you going to ________, too?") We smiled and got in the taxi as the attendant shouted something at the taxi driver and we were on our way!  
The taxi driver wasn't inclined to chatting and took us directly to Senbutsu Cave.  (Thousand Buddhas Cave)   Later we realized that this was the question the station attendant had asked us that we hadn't understood.  Luckily we smiled and nodded because this was the best place he could have taken us as it was seriously awesome.  Here we are standing outside the cave.  It was a really warm day, but we could feel a cool breeze coming out from the cave. 

Here are some tiny moss and plants that grow in the cave.  They only grow where there are lamps are lighting our way, otherwise there aren't any noticeable plants or animals in the cave. 

The whole cave was cold and damp and there was water dripping on us the whole time.  Besides the fact that the flash on my camera is broken, the dripping water also dissuaded me from taking many photos.  I wish we would have brought our rain jackets.

Jon kept telling me to slow down and admire the rock formations.  I wanted to charge ahead and just fly through, but I'm glad he made us stop and smell the stalactites.

About halfway through the cave we started wading through water.  I'm glad we brought sandals. The water was freezing and occasionally we tried to climb up the walls to let our feet warm up a little bit. I felt like a real explorer.  I've been in caves before, but never caves this extensive.  Also, in other caves I've explored in, there are strict walkways and they ask you not to touch the walls or the stalactites.  In this cave, nothing was off-limits. 

After the cave, we walked around and admired the karst landscape.  It was a really beautiful and relaxing hike.  Between the cave and the karst, it was the most exercise I've gotten in about 3 months, and I felt great.  We decided to skip the taxi ride back to the train station and just walk down the mountain, but about halfway there a gruff old man stopped and offered us a ride in his van.


Hilary and Eric said...

This looks like such a cool place to visit! I'm glad it didn't turn out to be a dud. It looks like it was worth it!

Sara Hendricks said...

Come visit and we'll take you both there! But, little Stegosaurus will probably need to be a few years old before he can come...