Katja and Arne's travel stories

10.02.15 Vang Vieng challenge

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Up early, again, and feeling a lot better. The headache is gone, so is much of the rash. We’re ready for Vang Vieng challenge.
The guesthouse don’t serve breakfast so we’re heading out to get something to eat. We find a place that serves porridge and that settles it. Katja hasn’t had porridge in ages so her choice was easy.

Back to the room we pack our bags for the trekking, and leaving behind non essential things. We go downstairs to check out and book a couple of more nights, but our English speaking host is not there. His mother, or mother in law is, but trust me, she is not an English major. We leave a note for the host and hope and pray our stuff is there when we get back.

We go to the office of Green Discovery and find that six more people have joined the tour. It’s always great to be a part of a larger group in this kind of treks and we meet and greet the others.
Chris from England, Toffer from America and two couples from France Stephanie and Seb, Ginger and Fabian.
We all get in the back of the car and start by driving to the market. Here the guide, Mr. Ming and the others are buying groceries for the trek, while we take a stroll around and just watch what’s on sale. Most spectacular in that department had to be the squirrel and rat we found.

Back in the car we drive down to the river and get out. We pack two large bottles of water, a sleeping bag, and harness and helmet. All set we take off our shoes and wade across the river. The current is tougher than it seems and it’s hard to find good foothold to maintaining the balance. We all get across without falling in, and start our trek.

We walk for about two hours with short breaks in between. It’s up up up after the first fields we passed, but finally it’s lunch and rest. Wet get the local baguette with tuna. Not really enough food for a man my size, but it’ll have to do.
After lunch we do a couple of zip lines. This is so we can enter the climbing part. We are now wearing our harnesses and use them to securely traverse the climb. Someone has mounted holds by the use of iron bars in the rocks and we use these for climbing. Some stretches are vertical others more easy. It’s fun and tiresom at the same time. We keep climbing for somewhere between two and two and a half hours. And then we’re at the cabin. This is our home for the night, but today’s action is not over.

We change into bathing suits and shorts and head up to the top of the waterfall nearby. From here we’re to rappel down through the waterfall to the pond at the bottom. This is a new experience for most of us, and there is a lot of nervous laughter and snickering up at the top of the waterfall.
Katja moves out as number three and shows she’s done similar things while rock climbing. I’m number four and only focus on not dying. We do it barefoot as we will get wet on the way down. It helps in some regards as we navigate down the stones, but sometimes it really hurts when you land into the wall and get a stone sticking into the sole off the foot.

I must admit I’m glad my face is to the wall and not at public display. But I survive, get down and fall into the pond like everyone else. I’m cold and wet, but happy for another episode of “Do one thing that scares you every day”.
Changing into dry clothes is almost enough to make me religious. When Mr. Ming brings a shot of a local whiskey called Tiger, it can hardly get any better. He serves up a shot of a local rice wine as well. Stronger, and with more flavor. I did not say better flavor, just more.

The guide and porters made a wonderful meal with different servings. We got eggplant and chili that was strong enough to make several blow their nose. It was a lot off fresh vegetables, so naturally we loved it.

When it gets dark it really gets dark. We had a fire going and tried our best to dry the clothing we have. It’s reminding me of any campfire with lots of people telling stories and getting to know each other. Chris, for example, is living in Bergen in Norway working as a bartender. Our well, he used to. Probably gonna be another two years before he returns to Norway.
Finally we all called it a night and went to bed. Bed is a relative term here, as the thin mattresses on wooden floor hardly constitute a bed. We have borrowed sleeping bags, but brought our thin silk sleeping bags to use inside these. A good call.
We hear the running water from the waterfall and it sounds like rain. Rain sounds like frying beacon. A wonderful sound to fall asleep to.

The jungle changes a man.

― Cynthia Kadohata, A Million Shades of Gray

Author: arnber

Humongen! The big guy! The man, the myth, the legend! And then theres' me. The nice guy in the house. The man without cooking skills, but with five stars on the Playstation. Boss at work, relaxed at home. What you see is what you get. Life is good. I choose it to be.

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