Monday, September 7, 2015

Dalat, Vietnam, Part 2: The Second 12-Hours (Canyoning!)

Headed to Ho Chi Minh City today!  But not before I finished off my second half of my 24-hour Dalat extravaganza by going canyoning.

Canyon-jumping in Dalat

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Woke up bright and early for canyoning.  I was picked up with 3 other guys in my hostel for an entire morning of canyon adventures (at this point, still no idea what canyoning is exactly). We drove out of town about 15 minutes, were dropped by the side of the road, and then told to hike.  Scary, downhill, no-real-path hiking.  
  • Side note: All photos here on out provided by the tour company, therefore the watermark in the left-hand corner.  I'm going to title the entire adventure "Potential death and lawsuits galore.
We first got to the top of a small waterfall where the man goes, "Sit down. Sit backwards. Put head down. Now slide."  I call this "Random sliding backwards down a waterfall so you can't see where you're going and you're afraid you're going to snap your neck"

  • On that note, do you know how freakishly terrifying it is for a Vietnamese guide with broken English to instruct you to do things that look like imminent death/dismemberment, and you're not really sure if he's using the wrong words or if you're misunderstanding him, and you're scared that any small misunderstanding could lead to a broken neck??  Imagine this feeling the entire day.  
Next was a 25-foot waterfall we had to canyon down (ahhh, so this is what canyoning is!).   

The guide is taking the photo from above so you can't see the angles - this waterfall was seriously straight down. And after you rappel down half of it, there's a part where the water hits a rock and goes straight into your face so you can't see anything or breathe and you just continue to rappel and hope for the best. Then the 2nd guide below tells you to let go of the rope entirely, and you're still really really high up and don't really trust him. I honestly was yelling "ARE YOU SURE?? LET GO ENTIRELY!?!?" to the 2nd guide for 5 minutes before I finally did; which makes you drop straight down into the water.  It's so unnerving to let go of the rope that the two guys after me didn't let go entirely, so they got pretty bad rope burn and wrist cuts from the rocks

  • Next up was canyon-jumping!  Here, you could jump from a 7-meter ledge or an 11-meter ledge. We all did the 7-meter, which was already pretty far. The issue with the 11-meter jump (besides the fact that it's freakishly high) was that it's set far back, so you have to have a running start and leap forward to make sure you clear the cliff below and land in the water.  The four of us on the trip made a pact to all do the 11-meter jump - and note, I'm with 3 dudes here. I went first; it was ok but kind of hurt. The second guy went, and he chickened out right after his running start and hesitated a bit before jumping - therefore he barely cleared the cliff and was really close to hitting it. Cue the last two guys refusing to jump. So nobody else did it. Apparently in Britain, people don't feel a need to honor pacts. *accusing glare*
Jumping off the 11-meter cliff

  • Last on the list: rappeling down a waterfall called "The Washing Machine."  This is because you rappel down half of it - then you slide down the rest, which changes directions constantly and drops you in a frothy mix of water where you're being bombarded on all sides by water and thrown about. Hence the name.
    Going down The Washing Machine. Here is where I swallowed a healthy dose of river water. 

    • The adventure ended as we hiked back up out of the crazy high canyon in our sopping wet clothes. Honestly, if this entire escapade was done in the States, it would be lawsuit heaven. I can't believe the amount of things we did that seemed incredibly dangerous, not to mention the lack of explanations and language barrier on top (our 2nd guide didn't even speak English!).  It was terrifying, but at the same time, it kind of got my adrenaline pumping because there are so few things we can do in the States that have this kind of risk.
    • Showered and recovered, I headed out on the 8-hour bus ride to Ho Chi Minh City - in another baller night bus setup!
    Awesome bus selfie. I kind of love being on the top row as well
    Small cubby for your feet

    MVP of the Day:
    The ladies at my favorite hostel of all time in Dalat, the Dalat Alan Hostel. Not only were they adorable and sweet and helped me line up an insane amount of activities, but they genuinely seemed to care and went way out of their way to accommodate me.  I was only there for one night, but they took the time to learn my name and always greeted me with "Connie!" when I walked in.  Not only that but:
    • Free communal dinners every night. It changed nightly and when I was there, they had a giant BBQ grill out front and some of the guys volunteered to grill for everyone. And it was FREE. 

    Delicious grilled dinner
    There is also something so friendly about a family-style meal with your entire hostel after being on the road for so long
    • The morning of canyoning, the car was gonna pick me up at 6:30AM - so I set my alarm for 6:20AM - naturally, thinking I would skip breakfast (which is cooked to order by the lovely ladies) and just roll out of bed. However, around 6:15AM, one of the hostel ladies tip-toed into the room and hovered over my bed worriedly, whispering, "I just wanted to make sure you got up!"  When I blearily came downstairs, she was standing there and went "I'm so sorry!  I didn't think there was enough time for you to order breakfast so I just made you eggs!", while holding out a large steaming plate of eggs and bread (normally, we get to choose between eggs or pancakes).  I almost died. They are the cutest.  The fact that she got up to make sure I was on time and to make me breakfast was the absolute greatest.
    • After I got onto the shuttle to leave the hotel and head to the bus station, all the ladies stood outside in a line and waved to me. Dying.
    • I had met a guy at dinner the night before who was also headed to Ho Chi Minh City the same day I was - so we'd exchanged info to communicate about hostels and transportation and such. However, he lost my info and apparently asked the ladies at the hotel to shoot me an e-mail after I'd left.  I got this e-mail from the ladies at the hostel while I was on the bus, which started with: "You have a LOVE message!"  and then conveyed the message he'd tried to send.  HOW CUTE IS THAT.  So in love with this hostel. 

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