Day 1: Virechay Forest Trek
What an amazing day. I'm laying in my army issued hammock with mosquito net, in a remote village somewhere in the forest of Ratanakiri. It took us under 2 hours in a van, down a rough, bumpy, difficult dirt road. Then, we got into very very small, very very thin boats- 3 to a boat. It was a 3 hour boat ride to the village- the most Beautiful boat ride that I have ever been on. We had to get out of the boats a few times, and other times we just sped up and went right up and over the falls! Holy shit. I realized then that this trek was legit. Got to the village- population 56, completely self sustained. Angelic, a absolutely beautiful french girl that is on the trek, brought along a fun little game that she'd bought in the market. It is similar to hackeysak- drop the sac, sub a madmitten looking thing. As ion as we arrives to the village she busted it out and it was a HUGE hit- especially with the kids. We played for well over and hour. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and then sat around a few candles and a BIG bottle of homemade rice wine. Not so much of a bottle, more of a pickle barrel. Huge. You stick three 'straws' in it, and take turns hitting it- 3 at a time. Everyone was in on it. Then we danced and listened to music. The most authentic and badass thing that I've done in some time. And now- slightly buzzed and completely exhausted, in lying in my hammock ready for sleep. We have a long day tomorrow, and a serious hike- so I'll resume the blog tomorrow!
Trek Day 2:
Didn't sleep a wink last night. I was freezing my ass off- literally, my ass was frozen. Despite a very hot day, the temperature in the evening was around 50 degrees- a temperature that all of us were completely unequipped for! I woke atleast once every hour, shivering to death and trying to curl myself into the fetal position in order to conserve my body warmth. At 3am I had to piss so badly that I thought I was going to explode- but I didnt not want to venture out into the cold, or into the pitch black of the forest. Finally got out of bed a little after 5am. I was thankful that some of the villagers were already stirring, and even more thankful that water was being boiled for coffee. The coffee was instant, but beggars cannot be choosers, and after a sleepless night anything would do. Two cups of 3in1 instant coffee later we had some noodles for breakfast and then began our trek. The trek started out with a short boat ride up stream. The boats are fascinating, and the forest is too beautiful for words. Definitely experienced a "spiritual moment" during the morning ride. The hike was Challenging yet rewarding. We did 16km today- uphill, cross streams and through thick brush. We started our journey at 8am and arrived at our camp at 4pm. We stopped once for lunch and a nap, which was lovely. I just love the group I'm with...quality, intelligent, compassionate people. We are having a blast. Enjoyed some 3in1 coffee when we reached our destination and then rinsed off in the river. We sat around, talking and laughing and then ate some dinner. Everyone here is pretty well traveled, so the stories are great. Finished up the evening with a few rounds of cards, and now, for the second night in a row- im the first one to head to bed. It's very cold, there's a spider nest below my hammock and apparently there's rats- oh yeah, and it's really really dark out here. Wishing that my moms hammock was next to mine so that I could "pst pssst" her if I awake from a bad dream, but I'll just have to tough it out. Goodnight everybody.
It's 6:30am- I've been up and outta my hammock for the past hour. Birds are chirping and Gibbons are hollering. Last night I slept in 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants, 5 shirts, 2 scarves and one huge headband that I wore covering my face. They provide us with one blanket, but that shit is Childs play- surely not something to keep you warm in the cold jungle. Oh yeah, and before bed I took 2 Benadryl, in hopes of knocking myself out. My whole body was exhausted after our trek, especially my poor knees, so I was praying that these would help. Well, they worked until about 2am. Then I was woken up by the dropping temperatures, the sounds of the forest and my uncomfortable sleeping quarters. Put some music on my headphones and tried to lull myself back to sleep. Woke up an hour and a half later and tried to meditate on warmth, sunshine and a cozy bed. Woke up again a little after 4am, and again had to pee had to pee had to peeeeeeeee!!!! But, outside too cold and too dark. I opted to hold out a little longer. My final hour in bed was a cold and painful one, but at 5:30am I shot outta bed, ran to pee and then warmed myself by the fire that our guide had made. Hallelujah. We are going to have instant noodles and instant coffee again for breakfast, pack up camp- then trek 10km to a boat- 3 hour boat ride and then about an hour and a half bus ride back to town. Yahooooo SUCCESS!
Things I've missed While Trekking:
Iced coffee with sweet milk
Ice cold beer with lunch
Ice cold coca cola after trekking
Pot of hot tea w/ milk in the AM
SKYPE (mom and dad)
And that's it. Aside from those few beverages and a warm blanket, I'm really enjoying my time here. I dont mind not showering for days at a time, or eating the same thing every day. I feel happy and healthy after a long days hike and enjoy the simplicity of a day of physical exertion and then down time. I have thoroughly enjoyed our evenings around the campfire- talking about places, ideas, religions and food!
When we get back to town, we are all goig to bunchang Annies for some bunchaung! Then we're headed back to Tree Tops for some beers and brandy on our beautiful tree top terrace! The only thing that would make life better right now was if I could take a poo!! The immodium that I took on our bus ride to Ban Lung SEVERAL days ago are taking their job WAY too seriously....