I've arrived in Bangkok for the next stage of my 9-month journey. Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, a country in South East Asia that borders Vietnam. Thailand has a very long and proud history, and it's one of the few countries in this part of the world to not be colonized. It is considered to be part of the developing world, which means that the country is growing fast, and that in some areas, like public health, there are still many problems. However, there is also much wealth in Bangkok, and it is a comfortable city by most standards.
The first weekend that I was here, I decided to join some friends from California on a trip to a national park. The park's named is Khao Sam Roi Yot, and it is located right on the coastline. When we arrived at the hotel, I went to swim, only to find hundreds of jellyfish floating through the water! After a few hours, during which we enjoyed fresh, spicy seafood, we got to the national park.
Khao Sam Roi Yot means "mountain with 300 peaks." The landscape is beautiful, with limestone cliffs covered in dense green vegetation, which included some familiar plants, like palm trees and cactuses. The mountains there are limestone, and many years ago, the region was underwater.
One of the most amazing things to see at the national park is the Phraya Nakhon Cave, which is a short walk from one of the park's main beaches. As my friends and I began our climb up to the cave mouth, it started to pour – really pour. Within a few minutes we were completely drenched. Luckily, it was also very warm, maybe 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so the water was enjoyable.
Soon, we found the cave opening, a gaping cavern at least 40 feet high and maybe 60 wide. The cave has two main chambers, and both have large openings in the ceiling, so light streams down and plants can grow within. Looking up as the rain cascaded through the cave opening felt like standing inside of a waterfall.
The main chamber of Phraya Nakhon Cave is special for the Thai people because it has been visited by many kings. Over 100 years ago, a small throne was built inside the cave. Constructed with traditional Thai aesthetics, it looks similar to a shrine or temple.
The cave also has many stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. These are formed when water makes its way through rock and drips down to the floor. As it drips, calcite, a mineral substance in limestone, comes with it, and over thousands of years, a stalagmite forms on the ground. Limestone has these substances because it is made up of the skeletons of coral and other sea creatures, many of them millions of years old.
Adam De Gree
I am a senior in college, studying philosophy, and am visiting family in the Czech Republic and travelling and studying in Europe and Asia.