Worth the Sweat
I was beyond excited when my friend (and the best Thailand tour guide a newlywed couple could ask for) described a magical cave with a temple inside of it as our next photographic pit stop. He warned us that it would be a bit of a hike, but I trusted that it would be worth the sweat.
The cave is just one of MANY beautiful spots to see at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (Thailand's first coastal national park), but well aware that time was of the essence, we quickly passed by the monkey tourist spot and headed to Bang Pu village.
Once at Bang Pu village tourists can choose to hike 30 mins to the beach or hire a water taxi for 200 baht (6 bucks or so) to take you around the cape to Laem Sala beach. Since we were trying to beat the clock for the best cave shots, and we knew there was a hike already in store for us, we enthusiastically shelled out the 200 baht for a quick ride to the beach.
While the short boat ride was enjoyable, the fun didn't last long. Once past the beach we made our way to the trail and began climbing the 430 meters of uneven rocky steps. I was surprised to see a handful of older tourists attempting the hike and made wishful thoughts that they would find a hiking stick along their way as I consider myself in decent shape and I was struggling to keep marching onward and upward.
I remember thinking I wasn't going to make it in time. I remember fearing my quivering legs would buckle under me. And then I remember feeling a nice cool breeze, looking up and seeing the first downslope and entrance into a cave. My excitement grew and I was ever so grateful that we had finished the hike just at the most perfect time. Golden beams came shining through the cave's opening and right onto the Khuha Kharuehat Pavilion. In 1890 a mound was built inside the cave as King Chulalongkorn was going to be visiting. The temple was built in Bangkok and assembled inside the cave so as to properly nab all the glorious sun rays. It was beyond beautiful and well worth the sweated-through clothes, empty water bottles and wobbly legs.
As if the stunning golden view wasn't enough, the Phraya Nakhon Cave also brought us a handful wild dusty langurs hanging out on a huge stalagmite.