This is one of the less popular caves, mainly due to mis-billing. The cave is
small, plain, and not the main attraction here, the monkey temple is! Yet the sign on the road mentions the cave but not the monkeys.
[I've revisited this cave, and gone into the full depth of it, and I take back my comment. The cave is small, but the bridges up into the center and temple inside make it a very atmospheric place to visit, not only that I've found a breathtaking view over Phang Nga bay here. See my second blog entry on this., Ta Pan Cave Revisited]
Phang-na is the region with the sharp rocks that jut up from otherwise flat land, the caves form at the base of these rocks. Rich vegetation cover makes them lush and green and very photogenic, look at the temple below posing for my holiday photo against the mountains.
The temple prayer section containing the Buddha is small, but around it, a sculpture park depicting heaven and hell occupy most of the site. The hell side is particular spectacular, with a hollow serpent tunnel snaking around the mountain to the hell sculptures. It's dark inside, and small holes for windows offer views onto hell as you go through the serpents belly.
This is where the monkeys retreat to. Once they've stuffed their mouth pouches with nuts and want a quiet place to eat, they climb up into the mane, that's them in the photo at the top of this article. You can see their mouth pouches full of nuts.
These are not the timid monkeys found elsewhere, these are bossy confident monkeys. They mostly eat nuts, which a stall at the front sells for 10 baht a pack. I foolishly put the pack of nuts down for a few seconds to get my camera, and a monkey grabbed it in the blink of an eye.
You can see it's a growing population. The monkeys were brought here by farmers who took them off their farms. I'll let you into a secret, the monk here hates them, and knows he really shouldn't. They rip up the roof of the temple, break everything, overturn water pots, steal untended food, and generally make life difficult for the monk here.
But they are ever so cute!
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