It was a story that captivated the world for over two weeks. 12 young boys had gone exploring in the Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and their coach went in after them.
A sudden downpour flooded the cave, forcing the group to go deeper and deeper into the cave complex and left them stranded in total darkness for nine days without food.
The world held their breath when the rescue unfolded before a media frenzy. Over 1,000 rescuers from all over to world joined forces to rescue the boys aged 11 to 16 and their coach, 25, in dramatic fashion.
If you don’t know how this story ends, the Wild Boar soccer team — all 13 of them— were rescued, safe and sound.
Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of the entire drama is that the Tham Luang Cave will now be transformed into a museum to tell the story of the gripping cave rescue.
Hollywood producers are even already pitching ideas to make a movie about the cave rescue. Tham Luang is sure to become a major tourist attraction in Chiang Rai in the very near future.
A living museum
Thai officials have reportedly voiced plans to turn the cave into a “world-class tourist attraction.”
“This area will become a living museum, to show how the operation unfolded,” Reuters reported the head of rescue mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn, saying on July 11.
“An interactive database will be set up… It will become another major attraction for Thailand,” he continued.
The story of the Wild Boar soccer team and their grit have put the cave on the world map.
However, to prevent a recurrence of the harrowing incident, officials say safety measures will be put in place inside and outside the cave to protect tourists.
Besides that, Reuters reported there are also plans to “revive” an adjacent national park where the hundreds of rescue workers and military personnel set up camp during the search and rescue.
For now, the cave is closed indefinitely and clean ups are underway, but plans are already in place to develop it into a tourist destination.
The legendary cave
Tham Luang cave is located beneath the Doi Nang Non (Mountain of the Sleeping Lady) mountain range in northern Thailand bordering Myanmar.
It is a karstic cave system in the Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park. The cave system is 10-kilometres long and has many deep recesses, narrow passages, and tunnels.
Although the first kilometre of the cave was previously open to visitors, a sign warns spelunkers not to enter the cave during the rainy season (July to November) as it gets flooded.
The cave is steeped in mythology. The name Tham Luang Nang Non translates to ‘Great Cave of the Sleeping Lady’. Legend has it that the sleeping lady was a beautiful princess who fell pregnant to her commoner lover. Her father was enraged and sent his soldiers to kill the lover. Devastated by the news, the princess took her own life. The water now flowing through the cave is said to be her blood.