Tiger Cave Temple
*Important note: There are no tigers in Tiger Cave Temple*
I live on the 3rd floor of a 6-story (what an amazing height!) building and we were not blessed with the existence of an elevator. The shameful truth is: I have never seen the 4th floor and I won’t even bother mentioning the 6th floor I cursed like a sailor each time I had to climb to my own home, which is approximately 40 steps away from the ground floor. It went on like that until one super-hot day in Thailand…
After a few weeks in Thailand and many hours spent visiting temples, they became quite boring. They seemed like the same buildings over and over again, similarly decorated and flooded with tourists. Like in any other religion, there are so many temples and just a few of them are considered spectacular. MIND BLOWING is the only word that describes Tiger Cave Temple. Do not go to Tiger Cave temple unprepared.
- DON’T drink the evening before you go to Tiger Cave Temple. Don’t make the same mistake I did and leave the severe hangover for some other occasion. Trust me, you will regret it and you will regret it hard.
- DON’T go there during the midday heat, especially if you are hungover!
- DON’T go there after the midday heat because you won’t have enough time to climb.
If you are sober and well rested, you will enjoy a scooter ride to the temple much more than my crew and I did. Tiger Cave Temple is located about half an hour away from Krabi Town (where we were settled by mistake) and a bit farther from Ao Nang (where normal people get their accommodations). It can be reached by taxi, probably by bus, too, but I highly recommend having your own ride – it is far less complicated than negotiating with a cab driver or praying to find a public transportation.
After a half an hour long ride, you will have to leave your scooter in the temple’s parking lot. Let yourself roam around a bit – you won’t have that easy paced walk for long. Some parts of the temple are located right there, but the major part is high above, in the hill. Just look up and you might see what is waiting for you.
During the walk, you will notice a big golden-blue sign saying (literally): “1,237 step to top mountain.” Don’t go there yet. First, find a grocery store. Buy water. Buy chocolate. By everything that seems even slightly useful. Now, very important, don’t be naive as we were; pack your goods in a backpack or hold them firmly in your hands. Avoid plastic bags by any cost and not (only) for the good of the environment. Don’t be fooled by the shallow stairs behind the sign – it’s a trick! Seconds after seeing those stairs, you will have a “this will be a piece of cake” thought. Each step will magically become higher as your lower leg and become so steep!
If you follow my advice about keeping your water in a bag, you won’t get yourself robbed between 20th and 50th step and you won’t feel the urge to kill an animal. I didn’t even notice when a monkey thief took all our food and drinks – I just saw it’s mean little hands unpacking my Hershey’s while the others were carrying away the bottles of water and a lip-gloss that belonged to, a now seriously furious, Chinese girl. We were left with nothing but our strong will…or just nothing.
If you successfully pass the 50th step, you will happily bounce further up. For the first 200 steps, you will be amazed at how fit you are and enthusiasm will shine out of you. Don’t get discouraged, but it won’t last forever and you should save your strength. Although, you should enjoy small talks and laughter and stop to pose for photos. Soon enough, you will forget about your camera, your friends, all your problems and everything else in the world but the stairs…so many stairs…
When you get to a pillar with 600 written on it – throw a little party! You are half way there and it is worth the celebration. You will be able to talk, but not necessarily sing a song. It is too soon for the victory dance because, if you got to this point of this article, you will know that the worst is yet to come. Good news is that the air is getting cleaner and chiller and it will smell better than anywhere in Thailand (like that is a challenge). You will have few hundred steps to enjoy it before you get all nauseous and dizzy, so – enjoy! Don’t even think about returning downhill, it’s too late now!
The worst part is about to come around the 800th step; when you start to get tired and the stairs get insanely steep. Don’t be ashamed (especially if you are a short person) to go on all fours – I did it and I am still alive. After the 800th step, you will barely be able to speak anymore due to exhaustion.
Your mind will be cleared – you won’t be able to think about anything but survival and if you are tough, you will be able to ask yourself what the fuck you are doing there instead of sipping coconut water on some beach.
When you see “1,000th step” for the first time, you will be reborn. A sudden rush of energy will bring you so close to that victory dance. Just. A. Little. More. Climbing those last 237 steps, you will just wait to see a pillar saying 1237 to know that you are done. SPOILER ALERT: there are no “1237 step to top mountain”. There are 1260. Same, same but different. It seems to you that those 23 more steps mean nothing when you climbed more than 1000, but it is not true. Those 23 steps stab you directly through your racing heart, but you climb those, too, of course. And suddenly…
…Suddenly you are up there. Everything you see, everything you feel, every breath you take; it can’t be described with words. Photos and videos don’t do this place justice. You have to be there. Do a victory dance at this point because you made it!
Getting down is much easier, but it is not easy. Please, don’t slip. That would be very dangerous. Once you reach the bottom, your legs will be shaking and I suggest finding a cool place so calm down. I promise this will be the best sitting experience of your life!