by Anjelica Jardiel
Achieving enlightenment has never been likened to an easy feat. Perhaps the Tiger Cave Temple in northeast Krabi, Thailand mimics the strenuous nature of polishing our lives and expiating our karma for the happiness of ourselves and others. At least that's the notion I felt as I scaled the thousand plus steps this December. This is my tale of ascension, as told through photographs.
I arrived in shorts and a spaghetti strap tank top, considering the heat and humidity of Thailand and anticipation of hiking, but was stopped at the entrance by a police officer and a monk. I paid 20 baht to rent a navy blue piece of fabric to be wrapped around my lower half, like a sarong burrito, while sweat flowed down my body like a waterfall.
There are actually 1,260 stairs in total, not that it technically matters, as the journey was strenuous enough. Believe it or not, this is not an illusion--the stairs actually do get taller at one point near the top.
The monkeys are plentiful and cute as hell, but they WILL steal your shit and possibly have sex in front of you. My friend Sapho had a plastic bag with sandals and a water bottle stored on the outside pocket of her backpack. She got jumped by 3 monkeys and had to climb the stairs without a sip of water. (Luckily, there’s a drinking fountain at the top.)
TRIPPER TIP: Definitely bring a bottle of water! You can buy one from the stands before ascending. (Just don’t let the monkeys know you have it.)
The view at the top is pretty magnificent, no matter what the weather is like. Nothing worth it ever comes easily.
The walk down the stairs was equally difficult, as my leg muscles were already exhausted. I had to take breaks to stop my leg spasms, but we had plenty of laughs.
How I felt before ascending:
How I felt after descending:
The journey to the top was a communal struggle. Every visitor took several breaks, sweat buckets and encouraged each other on the way up. Nothing worth it ever comes easily, and in the end, the obstacles were worth the experience.