sign in a cave in Laos

29 December 2011

Thale Ban caves, Satun, Thailand

Thale Ban National Park is in the southernmost province of Satun and borders onto the state of Perlis in Malaysia.

In fact the Perlis State Park compliments Thailand's Thaleban National Park and forms a transboundary park.
Thale Ban Park headquarters are just a couple of kilometres from Malaysia’s Wang Kelian border post in Perlis.

The Nakawan range of limestone hills runs through the west side of Perlis and up into Satun. In Perlis there are many caves in the range, but surprisingly on the Thai side there are few caves.

In 2000 I joined the Axbridge Caving Group (from UK) to explore caves in Thale Ban. In Feb 2000 we did a recce trip and the main expedition was in Dec 2000 - Jan2001.

The best known cave in Thale Ban is Tham Ton Din. It is a 400m long river cave, just across the road from Park HQ. I had been in here on a previous visit in 1999.
Black bands in the bedding

During the recce the caves we found were much smaller.

We went to Wang Prah Meadows and trekked to Tham Padew. We were accompanied by a guy from the Field Force complete with HK automatic rifle which he used as a walking stick on tricky parts. Another guy had a gun in his bag.
Tham Padew is basically a large rock shelter with an 8m long passage at the back. Total length about 35m.

The next cave Tham Nam, was even shorter, about 8m long, but it was an eventful visit. We nicknamed the cave Broken Leg Cave for 2 reasons – inside we saw a toad with one bare femur bone and no flesh, and outside Ronn badly bruised his leg, which lasted more than 2 weeks. Later in a bar a lady gave me some aloe vera toothpaste to rub on the bruise.
There was a hornet nest in the entrance which we had to squeeze past – Martin got stung once on the way in, and I got more than 8 stings on the way out, very painful. The small entrance passage led down to a stream, and we persuaded Martin to do a balancing/traversing act only to find it ends in a sump.

On another day we got a lift to Ban Thung Phatthana on the back of a truck packed with boy scouts.

An old man led us through a rubber estate, dry paddy fields and a swamp to Tham Krun Krang. There was a knee-deep pool outside the cave and a bamboo fence.
We swam through the cave to the other end and explored the side passages, but none went. The cave basically bisects the small hill.

We then hired a truck in the village and went to Tham Peng, which are 2 short caves both going through the hill.

Then we looked at a dragon shaped limestone hill but could find no openings.

Next we explored the longest cave so far, Tham Kubor Duson, which is a tourist cave in a recreation park! This is 22 km north of Satun.
According to this site :
Located in the Village No. 5 in Amphoe Khuan Don and about 22 kilometers from the Satun town, the Duson Irrigation Dike, Satun is a huge reservoir. As you move a further up from the Duson Irrigation Dike, Satun, you would come across a lush green patch of land, steep slopes and caves.

After these short caves, we went over to Koh Tarutao, which is an island in a marine National Park and visited Crocodile Cave, Tham Chorakhe.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

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