When I decided to join a longtail boat tour of Bor Thor, attracted by ancient caves and by the legend of the Big Headed Ghost, being on a boat, I planned to protect myself from the Krabi sun. When the day finally came, the sun was the last thing I had to worry about. It was a dark, cloudy morning, and the rain was so consistent that at the Bor Thor pier, in the Ao Luk northern district of Krabi, we could not even sample food from the local vendors as their stalls surroundings were extremely muddy.
We boarded a traditional longtail boat that took us trough canals along islands entirely covered by mangrove swamps; our guide gave us some information about this amazing ecosystem, ruled by the millions of mangrove tree roots that stick out of the water as they do not find enough air in the mud, and about the complex food chain in this kind of forest. Mangroves provide nutrients for animals and microorganisms living in it, as well as acting as a filter for the Marui River, catching sediments from the few villages upstream.
The noise of our boat engine echoed in the maze of mangrove trees’ trunks; soaring limestone rock formations were all around us, their palette of greens contrasted only by the colorful canoes and kayaks gently paddled by tourists wearing equally colourful raincoats.
Fifteen minutes later, we docked in front of a staircase that takes to the entrance of Tham Phi Hua To, marine part of the Tharnboke Koranee National Park. The cave is located at 3,5 meters above sea level and houses two spacious connected chambers. It is presumed to have been a burial or ceremonial site of a prehistoric community of cave people believed to have roamed this area between 2,000-3,000 years ago, as proven by the finding of human skulls in the cave. These people relied mainly on natural resources for food and shelter. On the area just above the entrance, we found the painting of the nicely preserved Big Headed Ghost, a slim and hunched creature with a big head, two antennae, a beak, a sort of stripped mantel covering the whole of its body, and a couple of protuberances exiting its pelvis area. Painted with henna, this pictograph has given rise to a legend that tells that the Big Headed Ghost, who terrorized people at the time, still lives in the cave, protecting perhaps its essence and its mystery.
We set off to explore the first chamber, populated by thousands of years old stalactites and stalagmites; a musky scent permeated the air. On the walls there are at least 100 paintings not entirely destroyed by the climatic conditions and the time. They are definitely primitive, some of them childish; inscribed on the rock using henna, coil and other natural colorants, they represent people, marine animals, utensils and scenes of daily life. The paintings are at different heights. “Experts claim that at the time, the level of water outside and inside the cave would rise in big waves according to tides”, said our guide. “The inhabitants would then move from lower floor levels to higher floor levels inside the cave, waiting for the water to recede and making the paintings during this waiting time”. The high number of ancient pictographs found in the walls of the higher grotto confirms this theory. We later climbed on to reach the north chamber, from which we were rewarded with a splendid view of mangroves, limestone rocks and the watercourses below.
Once back to the longtail boat, we were taken to an exciting trip through Tahm Lod Tai, a cave beneath a limestone hill flowing through narrow passages. This cave has amazing stalactites and stalagmites and is only navigable during low tide. The boat gently glided through the cave at slow pace and gave us enough time to observe in silence this miracle of nature.
Back to the Bor Thor pier, the rain had stopped, the air was still cool but some rays of sun somehow managed to filter through the cloudy sky. We carefully descended the boat and walked to a riverside floating raft with a thatched roof that functions as a restaurant, where our lunch was served. I really enjoyed this tour, well organized and adventurous enough, full of little surprises.
For an amazing tour of Bor Thor canals by kayak combined with a ATV drive, click http://krabi.guide/tour/fd-kayaking-tour-atv/