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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cave Exploraton in Northern Thailand

Posted in Expeditions/Dive Reports by CraigW on August 4, 2012 No Comments yet

While scouring over known GPS coordinates and old survey data from Northern Thailand I came across the location known as “Spring
Spring of the Laos Army
Thailand Cave Exploration - Spring of the Laos Army
of the Laos Army”.  Being that we were on our way to Loei we decided to break up our drive up north and spend the night in Chayaphum.  We found an excellent 4 star hotel in the area with 800baht rooms, swimming pool and fitness center.  After a 12 hour drive from Chumphon we were anticipating a basic and mildly comfortable hotel, this place was a sight for sore eyes!
Early the next morning after breakfast we headed out to the spring to check out the
Spring of the Laos Army
Thailand Cave Exploration - Site Evaluation
location.  As I was informed this place was quite a popular Thai swimming area where locals from every direction flock to cool off downstream of the chilled
resurgence pond.  Barbed wire separated the spring from the swimming area used by the locals.  When we arrived we were quickly stopped by the National Park Ranger as they were not accustomed to having divers, let alone foreigners in this area.  Everyone was quite curious of our intentions and safety was of the highest priority for everyone involved.  After our guide / fellow diving instructor Kru Pong explained our intentions and qualifications the Ranger quickly agreed to allow us to dive the location.  The locals were quite curious of our mission and were excited to gather any sort of information for their records at the National Park Headquarters.
After preparing equipment and entering the brisk 25 degree C water we spent the better part of the dive clearing debris from the main entrance.  The spring had a strong outward flowing current which quickly stirred the visibility as we removed logs, branches, barbed
Spring of the Laos Army
Thailand Cave Exploration - Equipment Preparation
wire and other debris from our suspected dive site.  I had a weird feeling about this place, almost like someone purposely blocked the entrance.  Curiosity fueled our desire to see what this cave had in store and after an hour we finished the preparation and were in a position to start our dive.
The entrance of this cave worked its way downwards at a steep angle.  After around 10m of tight single file passage and zero visibility we encountered a previous exploration line and tied in.  This line was supposed to have been laid by Matt London and the TCDP (Thailand Cave Diving Project) over 10 years ago.  Our team continued down this line until it came to an end at about 18m.  The cave seemed to open up slightly and the passage continued however due to the zero visibility and strong flow we called the dive due to safety concern.
After our experience with what seemed to be one of the lost locations that would be
Spring of the Laos Army
Thailand Cave Exploration - John Cafaro and Jack Wylie approach the entrance
better left unfound we understood the effort that went into concealing the entrance to this cave.  This is definitely not a place for inexperienced cave divers or those without proper cave training.  High flow, bad vis and a steep angle didn’t make it a location that we will come back to.  The masses of local children that use this spring as a summer time swimming site probably have the right idea!
Many thanks to the National Park Rangers and Staff for their support and permission to dive this site.  Although this particular location was not what we were looking for we suspect there are other springs in the area and we will continue further exploration in the future.
Date: April 2012
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