But there must be something about the dragon that fascinates not just people of old but also modern men. While we can only make a wild guess about whether it ever existed, the closest one can ever come to dragons are dinosaurs. What is certain, however, is that if dragons had ever existed at all, it must have gone the way of T-Rex and company. And sadly not a single fossil were left for us to marvel at its size nor a shred of
Being born in the year of the Rooster, I am, say Chinese geomancy experts, would be most compatible with those born in the year of the Dragon. Yeah, right. I suppose I would love nothing better than to go home to a dragon lady every might. Suffice to say that me being the chicken and she being the dragon with fire flaring from her nostrils under most circumstances, there is every likelihood that I would be roasted or grilled daily. Of course, the other two compatible animals with me are the Snake and the Ox. But again I think this is not the column and place to discuss feng shui. So we would leave that to the experts of the earth, wind and fire and move to more familiar grounds, i.e. travel.
Just over a 100km to the north of Hat Yai is the province of Trang, where you find a cave called Tham Le Khao Kop, situated in Huai Yot County, about 7 km off the office building of the county administration. The cave has a stream running through it and the only way to get inside is by taking a boat so you can visit the cavern consisting of some fifteen caves. The caves differ from one another in shape and sizes and the highlight is Tham Lot or Thong Mangkon (the dragon's stomach). To explore this cave, you have to lie down on your back in the boat along the 100-metre waterway. Minimum of movement is required. You move your head up and your nose would get bruised by the many jutting rocks making up the dragon’s belly. It is not a journey for those who are claustrophobic because your mind tend to tell you that there is not enough oxygen. It is certainly one sure way to get your adrenaline flowing and you will automatically hold your breath when the boat passes sharp-pointed stalactites that are only a few inches away from your belly. A round trip takes about an hour. Being occasionally cheeky, I find that this is about the only time I can lie in a girl’s lap for 15 minutes without getting accused of sexual harassment. You have to try and visit when the tide is out because during the rainy season the cave expedition is not possible due to the high tide. It is about the only time when those with lots of fat seemed to be welcomed because the extra weight helps make the boat sink lower in the water, thereby giving more room in the dragon’s long belly. Opening hours is from to .
The river that makes up Tham Le Khao Kop flows from the Banthat Mountain Range and is divided into three waterways upon reaching Khao Kop. Two go around the mountain while one flows through the cave under the mountain. In addition the cave itself looks like a high and steep cliff with layers of rocks and stalactites and stalagmites magnificently decorating the cave for a distance of approximately 4km. One of the caverns is called a bridal chamber. Presumably in the days of old it must be where virgins are sacrificed to the dragon lord. Currently, the Khao Kop Tambon Administration Organization provides rowboats to facilitate visitors explorations of the cave. In addition, eco-tourism and light-adventure activities are provided by the locals. The boat ride costs 200 bahts for 7 persons, or 30 baht per person.
Incidentally the reason Bruce Lee is associated with dragons is that he was born in the Year of the Dragon in
To illustrate the point further, it is said that Lee's striking speed from three feet with his hands down by his side reached five hundredths of a second and he could spring a 235lb opponent 15 feet away with a one inch punch. His combat movements were at times too fast to be captured on film at 24 frames per second, so many scenes were shot in 32 frames per second to put Lee in slow motion. Normally martial arts films are sped up. In a speed demonstration, Lee could snatch a dime off a person's open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind. He could also perform push ups using only his thumbs and would hold an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer. Another demonstration of his speed was he could throw grains of rice up into the air and then catch them in mid-flight using chopsticks.
If those were not enough proof, Bruce Lee could perform one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger as well as 50 one-arm chin-ups. From a standing position, he could hold a 125lb barbell straight out and break wooden boards six inches thick (not at the same time of course). He once performed a side kick while training with James Coburn and broke a 150-pound punching bag, and could cause a 300-lb bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling with a sidekick. In a move that has been dubbed "Dragon Flag", Lee could perform leg lifts with only his shoulder blades resting on the edge of a bench and suspend his legs and torso perfectly horizontal mid-air. He could thrust his fingers through unopened steel cans of soft drinks, back in the days when soft drink cans were made of harder aluminium metal. And Lee would use one finger to leave dramatic indentations on pine wood.
In the words of the master, "Be formless... shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, and it can crash. Be like water….”
I will try and remember that the next time I face a 300lb bully. And I hoped being like the water means more than just wetting my pants.