This poem, originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of Poetry Magazine, written by the well-published Canadian poet, Amanda Jernigan. At fifteen years old, she had spent a year in Thailand as an exchange student. We guess that a trip may have included a visit to the Nayang Bat Cave near Cha-Am where she received her inspiration and that Cha’am is ‘poetic licence’ for Cha-Am.
‘Billowing’ is a very apt description of the appearance each sunset of probably millions of fruit bats that flow out from the mountainside in what appears to be a rather sudden cloud of smoke streaming into the skies.
Having said millions, some people only say hundreds of thousands, but others estimate 10 million in the swarms above, but there’s no one counting! Nayang Bat Cave is north of Cha-Am, not really that easy to find, but if you travel about 5 kilometres north along the scenic route before reaching Puktien Beach; the locals will steer you inland towards a very large outcrop with a distinctive cave in the face. The nearby viewpoint, a platform on the roof of a private building, is likely to have a few visitors.
The owner may want 20 THB for the privilege. Around 6.30 pm you’ll notice an increase of small flying creatures overhead before the masses emerge from the hillside. It’s just starting to get dark, so best to choose a cloudless sky for a clear background if photography is on your mind. After 10 or 15 minutes of the steady stream flooding from the hillside to find their nightly succor, it’s all over. This is not a unique scene in Thailand, but many locals are oblivious to the spectacle.
If you are into nature as a mass choreographed display, bats on this scale takes some beating. Take a drive some evening to be a witness. You may also be inspired to write poetry after the display!