One of the things on my Thailand bucket list was to visit a temple, I’ve always had a fascination with Buddha and the Buddhism religion and from what I’ve seen and heard from other travellers, their temples are spectacular and the Tiger Cave Temple did not disappoint.
My good friend from home, Zen hopped over to Thailand for a week after spending the New Year in India and he was just as keen to see some Buddhism! Tiger Cave is on the other side of Krabi so we took a short cab ride, when we arrived I wasn’t sure what to expect because all I could see was a big temple looking building covered in scaffolding, a traditional Thai archway which obviously led to something or other and a bunch of monkeys stealing bags of nuts from children.
We proceeded through the archway (after spending time being entertained by the monkeys!) and the atmosphere immediately became peaceful. The main pathway led to some sort of religious structure which had incense burning in front of it and fruit offerings. The colours of everything, the building, the decorations and the offerings were so bright and contrasted against each other which made it pleasant to photograph.
We turned to face where people seemed to be headed and saw two sets of steep stairs, we assumed (without reading the signs) that they led to the same thing and opted to take the one with less people on. After climbing the first and very steep, stint of stairs we took a breather and then realised it wasn’t going to be as bad as we thought because the stairs led us back down into a jungle. – phew! After about 10 minutes or wandering into the jungle, following a single path and seeing no one else around we came to the decision that this probably wasn’t the way to the temple but we were still intrigued what was around in the jungle and what the trees with Monk’s robes tied around them were all about. The first thing we stumbled across was “The Hall.” It was built into the rock face and had seemed to be a place that people came to pray or pay their respects, there was a bunch of Buddha’s with incense burning in front of them as a centre piece and next to them was a religious painting on the rock face. It was unbelievably peaceful and tranquil being surrounded by the jungle.
We carried on along the path and came across numerous caves that Monk’s obviously came to to pray. Each cave had a Buddha centre piece and cloths on the floor and some even had small symbols painted onto the walls.
Continuing to walk through the jungle, we saw some many trees that had Monk’s robes tied around them or some sort of colourful fabric which we later found out means that the spirit within the tree is protected and cannot be harmed and is sacred.
The path led us around in a circle and back to “The Hall” so we ascended back up the stairs and back to where we started and decided to take the other set of stairs with a more “temple like” entrance. There was a huge bunch of monkeys at the entrance to the staircase which I think distracted us from the 1267 steps to the top sign…
Now, I used to work in Covent Garden and for any Londoners reading this, you’ll know that the stairs at the CG underground station are pretty horrendous and I used to be able to walk up those in one go. I used to feel like I was about to collapse and die when I got to the top but I still managed it! So I thought, okay piece of cake, I can do this but of course Covent Garden’s underground stairs aren’t even half the amount that I was about to climb to the temple, in fact I don’t even think they were a quarter of the amount.
I’m not going to lie, the climb was like walking to hell not to a peaceful, beautiful Buddhist temple. My legs were burning, I was sweating like a pig (probably because we picked the hottest day we’d experienced in Thailand to climb this stone Everest) I felt sick and faint at one point, the steps were so steep they were almost vertical the whole way up and at one point I thought I was going to have to climb with my hands and legs because the steps became so big, my little legs could just about jump from one step to another. After about an hour, the top came into sight and I could have cried with relief if I’d had enough hydration in my body. Climbing so far up into the jungle the views were bound to be spectacular but the first thing we did was drink the free water and sat down to mop up the sweat, once we were feeling more human like we noticed just how beautiful our surroundings were.
We had to climb one more (very small) set of stairs to reach the open top Temple and once we were up there, the struggle of climbing the monster 1267 steps completely went. The Temple itself was so beautiful and a sense of calm completely washes over you when you were in its presence and the views that’s filled the backdrop just made it that much more breathtaking.