Apr 20, 2011

Spelunking in Kep

It's been really interesting so far seeing out kids in situations that they normally wouldn't be in at home and how they handle themselves.  For example, that they both climbed Ta Kao at Angkor Wat so confidently and without hesitation both surprised me and yet made me proud that they seemed undeterred by the wall of stone before them.  More recently, we explored a cave and found ourselves in a really tight spot.  Again, the girls tackled the situation head on whereas we were not so sure ourselves!

We were in Kep, after hiring a scooter and riding the 25km or so over from Kampot, in the south east corner of Cambodia near the southern border with Vietnam.  After touring the countryside in the morning, and having lunch at the famous 'Crab Market' in Kep, we started heading back to Kampot.  We noticed an outcropping of a rocky hill in the middle of the fields and remembered that there was meant to be some limestone caves in the area.  Although we had no intention of visiting it originally, the fact that we were now here posed an opportunity too good to pass. 

We were in fact at the cave at Phnom Saseur, which was the White Elephant Cave.  Near the entrance to the cave, we were joined by a junior monk from the wat below, along with another fellow, who later turned out to be the cook.  Both came with us into the cave and pointed out the 'white elephant' in the limestone walls.  They told us of adjoining caves that had another limestone 'white elephant' as well as a cave with bats.  The cook then led us 'out' but towards the back of the cave, which he said was another way. 

Do you see the 'white elephant'?

The shrine inside the cave

Another 'white elephant' in the limestone wall

It soon became apparent that this 'alternate way out' was going to be quite tricky.  Gone were the concrete stairs that led us into the cave, and we had to pick our way carefully among the broken rock.  When it came to a point where it seemed like it was a dead end, the cook pointed to a small opening and said that it was the way.  We had a look and saw a narrow ledge hugging the cave wall with a drop off on the other side of about 8 metres to the bottom of the cave floor!  Jim and I thought there was no way that we'd be able to proceed this way and that surely we'd have to turn back.  But the cook just laughed and said that he went this way many times a day and that there would be no problem.  He kicked off his flip flops (!), got himself positioned on the ledge and we proceeded to hand first Yasmine, then Maddy, over to him so that he could put them safely on solid ground.  Then it was our turn!  Unfortunately he couldn't carry us, but instead he showed us where to put our hands and feet in order to manouever out of the tight opening.  The cook was incredible with how confident and helpful he was!

'This way out'

'Through here'

Note the drop off on the right!

Out at last!

The girls really took this adventure in stride.  And we are discovering what great, incredible, capable kids they are.  Hopefully they know it too.

At the top of Phnom Saseur


  1. Those caves are incredible - glad to see you visited them and got topside again without too much difficulty.

  2. No place is off limits for the kids. I love it! What experiences they are having.