by Melinda Gallo

Hiking the stairs up Tiger Cave Temple Mountain

At 8 a.m. we were standing outside of our hotel and a van drove up to take us on our next day trip. We wanted to ride an elephant, per my sister's suggestion, and visit some more of the local sites. We chose one company for today's tour, but the woman at the tour agency suggested we choose a different one after she offered us a discount. Each of the tour companies offered to allow us to visit the same sites, so we selected the one she asked us to consider.

Living in Florence :: Hiking the stairs up Tiger Cave Temple Mountain

The day trips we take help us balance out our days at the water. No matter how much I love the water, it's interesting to see other parts of Thailand.

We first arrived at the hot springs and walked up to the ticket booth with the tour guide. She bought four tickets, but there were six of us. I peered over her shoulder to look at the sign and saw that only foreigners were supposed to pay, which is why the two Thai girls from Bangkok didn't have tickets.

When we arrived to the hot springs, there were only a few people and after only a few minutes, large groups of people arrived. I dipped into the colder river at the bottom of the hot spring because the hot spring was too crowded. The water was murky and I wondered if I should really be swimming in it.

We were then taken to the Crystal Pool, which we got to by taking a path through the wooded area. Again there weren't many people when we arrived, but shortly after many of the same people from the hot springs were with us again.

We were taken to Tiger Cave Temple and the tour guide asked us if we wanted to walk up the over 1200 steps to the top of the mountain to see the golden Buddha. At first, I didn't want to go because it was hot and humid. The two Thai girls said they wanted to go, so the tour guide told us that we'd have to wait an hour for them to go back and up. We decided that we'd go up as well. We passed them up after the first few floors. They ended up not following us because the steps became very steep and quite strenuous.

We passed many people on the up, but no one said anything to us. We stopped a few times and rationed the water because we only had one small bottle. When we finally made it to the top, sweating and exhausted. Luckily, there was free filtered water, so we finished our bottle of water and filled it back up.

We took off our shoes and walked around the top floor near the golden bell-shaped statue, an altar with eight different Buddhas, a larger alter, and the immense golden Buddha. The treacherous hike up the mountain was well worth the view of the surrounding countryside.

By the time we got back down the mountain, we were exhausted. We were almost immediately whisked away to go for our elephant ride. I was happy that we were just put on top of the elephant and that we didn't have to do anything.

Adrenaline flowed through me as the elephant walked through the swamp and then had to go down a high step to another part of the forest. The ride lasted almost an hour and because we were already tired from the climb earlier, we were happy to get off. We bought some bananas to treat our elephant.

When we were finally dropped off at our hotel, it was almost 6 p.m. We were exhausted, but still found the strength to shower and go back outside to find a restaurant where we could sit down and eat.

We walked back up the stairs to our hotel room after dinner and felt our legs aching. No matter how exhausted we were after the hike, the view from the mountain was so amazing that if I ever go back to Krabi, I will certainly trek up the stairs again.

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