Decided to have a lazy weekend in Saraburi seeing as I've got lots of travel coming up in the next fortnight. Got up at a reasonable 9.30 on Saturday morning and took myself off to some local caves in the next province. The bus didn't stop remotely near the caves, so a lovely local Thai girl explained to a motorbike taxi driver where I was going... seemingly a long way away judging by the 80b he wanted to charge, considering it's only 100b to BKK in a minivan, but having gone all the way there I thought I might as well go and see it.
I've made a point of not using motorbike taxis as they're not the safest of things. I remembered why I'd made this decision while we were hurtling along, helmetless, at 80km an hour up a windy dirt track towards the mountains. Got there in one, windswept piece. He arranged to pick me up in two hours, as this place was in the middle-of nowhere with no way of getting back, which was nice of him though I did half-doubt whether he'd actually show.
Spent a good ten minutes trying to work out where the entrance to the caves was. Thought I found a way in, but changed my mind when the nearby guard-dogs started pacing towards me barking their heads off. Backing away slowly, wishing I knew how to say 'good doggy' in Thai, decided to find an alternative entrance. Stumbled across it shortly after, and realised it was quite obvious in the first place and I needn't have wandered into the dogs territory. Made my electricity-donation and a monk turned the hallogen lights around the caves on. There'd be a lot of bumped heads if you didn't pay.
I was the only person in there and I was slightly nervous. It was really eerie in there and squeezing through various gaps into the different parts of the cave freaked me out a tad when I wondered whether I'd find my way back. The bats added to my nervousness, particularly when they came too close. My scaredy-catness got the better of me and when I'd seen everything in there (mostly shrines and Buddha's) I decided not to hang around for fear I'd get lost, fall over, knock myself out, and end up being eaten alive by bats.
After a speedy retreat I thought I'd enjoy the peace and quiet, and the amazing scenery, and wander around the mountains. I spent about an hour doing so and then decided to sit back at the cave entrance and wait for my chauffeur. On the walk back and with the cave entrance about 200m in sight I started hearing dogs. Lots of dogs, and wild strays at that. The barks and growls and padding footsteps kept getting closer and I have to admit I was getting a wee bit scared, as you would. In my mind the line 'don't run from dogs' was repeating itself and it took all my inner-strength not to just leg it. Instead, which in hindsight I'm pretty impressed and proud about, I continued to walk at a slow and measured pace without looking back at what probably rabid mongrels were following me. At what felt like at eternity later I made it to the caves, dogs well behind me, only to be greeted by more dogs at the entrance. I just gave them a mean look and they backed off. Ok, that's a slight over-statement, I actually edged carefully around them to a seat in full-view of the monk so he could rescue me incase they turned nasty.
The monk actually came to have a chat with me which was nice, he had quite good English as well. He waited with me until the motorbike turned up and we had another exciting ride back to town. Was starving my this point after the exhaustion of escaping from the various horrible creatures I'd come across in my visit, so sat down at a little street vendors. An American guy happened to stroll in, like you do in these very teeny Thai towns, and turns out he taught at my school a few years back. Had a nice chat and we went our separate ways, no doubt to randomly meet again (which we did as later turned out he's replacing me next semester!)
Went via Tesco (with the intention of splurging on some wine but apparently you can't buy booze between the hours of 2pm and 5pm), which was playing Christmas music. Headed home and got myself all tarted up as Ada and Kate were throwing a Mexican-themed Christmas do. The food was immense and the party and after-party at the karaoke bar was lots of fun; a very late night, getting into bed about 4.30am. Had a lovely lie-in and went to Ada's next day to say thank you and eat left-overs. We watched a crazy 70s animal documentary film thing called 'Animals are beautiful people'. Anyone seen it? It was very very strange!!