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08 July 2013

Mountain Stroll

 

So I kind of missed my final night in Laos due somewhat to just my own stupidity. Two days earlier I was choosing a tour for my final day in the city of Luang Prabang and I figured I wouldn’t mind riding an elephant and spending the day with them so I found the tour I wanted, matched prices, and was good to lock it in – but thought I’d research first. Turns out most of them actually mistreat and abuse the elephants so I decided I wasn’t going to have any of that and boycotted all of them. I ended up at an eco-friendly agency which offered hikes to see remote villages, and gives a lot of the money back to these villages (They’re crazy-poor) so they said it’s not too difficult or anything and probably just a stroll for me so I locked it in. That night I went out and had a huge one (But this is a public blog so we’ll just skip over that part) and long story short ended up back home at 5:30AM and then got up 2 hours later for the hike. What a nightmare that turned out to be.

We begin the hike, and I’m still drunk (among other things) and feeling the effects of the night before but I figure a stroll is a stroll. Four hours later it became evident this wasn’t just a fucking “stroll.” It was an eight-hour intense mountain hike. I was climbing up and down through steep forest terrains while absolutely drenched in sweat. To make matters worse, our tour guide didn’t seem to give a shit and just ran off to make phone calls or walk with the only other guy on the tour, who was a soldier from Denmark. So multiple times there I was in neck high plants and shrubbery with no real path in sight, in a part of the country known for having millions of unexploded land-mines, with no idea where the fuck the useless tour guide or army dude were. All I could think to myself was I could just be riding a goddamn elephant right now. That, and I hope I don’t suddenly explode.

When I thought it couldn't get any more tragic, it started pouring down with rain and the now established path turned into a complete mudslide. I went the whole holiday without falling down, but I managed to fall about 19 times. At one point I was literally face down on the ground trying to crawl up this path without managing to even get a grip before sliding back down. There I was, laying there exhausted, tired, and covered in sweat, rain, and abrasions. It was that exact moment that several locals casually walked on by me in flip-flops up the mountain. They legit just didn’t give a fuck. I couldn’t believe it. So there went my self-esteem too. Eventually we made it to the village and I had 2-minute noodles and no one understood what I was saying, so it was more or less just like being back in Sydney. I still enjoyed it though. 

We finally made it back to the boat, and even the soldier dude admitted that was the most intense experience of his life, and he was a goddamn soldier. I got back home, passed out, missed a pre-organised farewell going out with all the friends I made in the city, and woke up at 5AM the next day to begin my first flight home. Luckily I pre-emptively set the alarm on my phone.

This sort of just turned into a massive whine, so to make up for it here are a couple photos from the day so you know this is all legit.

 

The kids at the villages were so cute and lovely.
On the left is the soldier and on the right is the tour guide. This is at the start when there was still a usable path.

 

The villagers themselves lived in these little huts they built without any electricity. Also there were lots of ducks. I like ducks.

 

– Lonely Kids Club

 

 

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