This article was first published in SumpThink in month 2006
Caving trip to PT17
Weekend 12-14 Nov
by Huyeng Ea
It started with a Toastmaster's speech. Hearing about her life in the underground world. While others cringed, I was highly intrigued. After a short inquiry, there was a promising trip organised to go to PT17 in two and a half weeks. There wasn't much time to ponder or wonder whether it was a good idea or not. Suddenly, caught with the hype of it all and not knowing really what to expect, I found myself agreeing to my first caving trip.
The first day into the underground started with gearing up in a pair of long johns, polyprop shirt, polyprop suit, gumboots, hat, gloves, overalls and helmet. The first part of the venture I would have to say did not look too pleasant. Looking down into the entrance, it looked rather daunting and felt just as much, climbing down a small rope ladder into a small hole into the ground. It was dirty, dank, dusty and dark…, not a good first impression. But as we ventured further in, we followed a stream into the darkness, and slowly, as my eyes adjusted to the environment, my view changed. The noise of the stream, the smell of carbide lamps burning, our echoing voices, mixed with the dimly lit surroundings as we made our way down into the unknown, all gave the exploration a sense of adventure. I felt butterflies and excitement as we walked deeper and deeper into the caves.
The best part of caving for me, was the way each passage presented the group with a different physical challenge. From scaling walls that dropped down into dark crevasses, climbing up tunnels and bridging gaps over dark holes and using only our bodies and each other to creep along the passages, it allowed the team to work together and the natural leaders of the group to shine. Having no ropes to stop us from dropping into the darkness, there was a lot of trust placed on the leader and also pushing our bodies to perform some things I never knew I was capable of. (Though my body did let me know about it a couple of days later).
The second day saw the group divide into two. One entered the caves called "Crash", while the other group took a different route down into PT17, this time abseiling down a 20-ish meter drop and then entered further down into the cave beside a waterfall. What an entrance…Loads of fun!
The weekend had turned out to be a mini adventure holiday for me. I hadn't really known what to expect. And what I got was a fun-filled weekend with a bunch of warm, friendly and fun people.
So as an answer to the old saying about caving, "you'll either love it or hate it". I'll have to say that I really did enjoy myself. The people made it a success.
I'm looking forward to the next trip for more photo opportunities. Still haven't seen any stalactites and stalagmites as yet!! And apparently, I'm not a caver till I do.