Sunday, August 13, 2006

In the jungle

This is where we slept for two nights. Any more would have been too many. The jungle of North Viet Nam was quite fun, but it takes a toll on you, well it did on me. I think the humidity is at 100% at all times. The fog seems to occupy most of the forest and carries with it a lot of moisture. I washed my clothes and hung them up to dry, and I swear they were more wet in a few hours than they were when I put them in the creek. There is always something crawling or flying around, and it's never quiet. There are insects here that make noise that sounds like someone is forging metal. Our sleeping quarters can be seen in the background on the right hand side. Immediately to the left is where we ate and prepared food. It's all made of bamboo and wire. The only protection from the flies, snakes, mice and whatever else wants to crawl in is the sleeping bag.

We arrived here with a guide and a porter on our first day and met the keeper of this place, a 17 year old kid. He has been the keeper of this place for two years, on and off. He hunts for most of his food with what looks like a home-made gun. Most of the time his catch consists of mice, mice and more mice. He grilled six in the time we spent here. Our porter brought with us much more consumable food. We ate really well!

On our second day we climbed Mount Fansipan. I think it would have been much easier if we were used to the climate, but we weren't and it made it twice if not three times as challenging. Most of the way was covered in vegetation and often we'd be climbing from one tree to the next using roots and branches to lift ourselves up. Our guide didn't break a sweat! At the top we couldn't see much, which was disappointing, but hey at least we felt pretty accomplished. We climbed the highest mountain in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos. We came down pretty fast and finished off the day with a good meal and some cards. We learned to play a Vietnamese card game and enjoyed the company of our porter and guide.

On the third day we climbed down, and it was quite slow going. I felt a little sick and I suspect it was the water. At such high elevation we may not have boiled it long enough. Kheang says he didn't know it was possible to walk so slow. Still we made our way down the mountain to a hill tribe village where we took two motorcycles back to Sapa, which is where I'm writing this post from. Two motorcycles for two of us, two motorcycle drivers and our porter and guide, making it three per motorcycle. These drivers and these 80 cc motorcycles are unbelievable. Even though I was on the motorcycle, I still can't believe we got here without a problem, dodging pot holes, water buffalo, villagers and going over rocks and ponds!

We're resting now and waiting for a bus to take us to the train station and back to Hanoi from where we'll fly to Cambodia.


Anonymous said...

Hey Marko... Congrats on reaching the highest point in Vietnam. Anyway, is mouse tasty??? Charles

Marko said...

Hey Charles,

We didn't try the mice. :)