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After almost three weeks in the dark, 12 Thai boys and their coach, were rescued from a cave deep underneath the mountains that form the Thai-Burmese border. The boys, aged 11 to 16, were part of a soccer team that also dabbled in outdoor adventures with the charming nickname the “wild pigs” (“mu pa”). The snacks they are reported to have carried into the cave, to celebrate the birthday of one of their friends, likely sustained them during the ordeal.
The name of the cave, Tham Luang Nang Non, literally means “the cave of the reclining lady.” It is named after a princess who, as the legend goes, committed suicide after she was forbidden to be with her commoner love. Her body became the mountains, and her genitals, the cave. She is now the ruler – the “jao mae” – of both.
Nang - Non - Cave - Rainy - Season
I first visited Nang Non Cave in the rainy season of 2007 along with my partner, for my book project “Ghosts of the New City.” While the current attention has focused on the treacherous flooded passages, the trapped children and their heroic rescuers, as I found, there is much more to this story.
The cave is enthralling. Its entrance is broad, like a cathedral door, and during the rainy season the humidity pours out of it like steam. It looks like the gateway to another world. In some senses, it is.
Descent - Entrance - Scale - Emptiness - Companion
I started down the rocky descent toward the entrance, drawn in by its vast scale and emptiness. Only my companion, having heeded better the sign at the entrance forbidding ingress during the rainy season, called me back. I returned reluctantly.
I was right to retreat. As the schoolchildren found out, during the rainy season the water levels at tight spots in the cave can rise dramatically, trapping would-be explorers inside. So in...
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