Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Trekking

(PICTURE: One of the villages we hiked to.)

Huyen and I got to Babe at 7PM on Thursday night. We found a local guest house that my friend Van recommended and checked-in to our room. By "our room" I mean a bed with a curtain around it. All of the guest houses in Babe are basically the same. The houses cram as many beds into a room as possible and separate them with curtains that would almost give you some privacy if they were long enough to actually form a complete wall and not leave foot and a half gaps at the edges.

The next morning Huyen and I went trekking with a woman named Oot who is the Aunt of the guest house owner. My friend Van from school told me Oot was her second mother and that she would take care of us. Oot led us on an amazing trek into the middle of nowhere. We followed a dirt path through a small village, past rice fields, up a mountain, down a mountain, through corn fields and finally towards a small ethnic village completely isolated from civilization.

(PICTURE: This is the dirt path that started the trek. It was also the most defined path the whole way.)

A couple highlights of the walk:

1: The countless make shift bridges that we had to cross. Watching Huyen balance on them makes me giggle every time I think about it...and now you can watch too: video


2: Me saying to Huyen before the hike, "I wish I brought shoes that had some traction." I then proceeded to slip on nearly every wet rock.

3: Seeing a dead snake on the path within the first thirty minutes of the hike. I asked Oot if it was poisonous and she said that if it bit us we'd be dead in ten minutes.

4: Being told that we could take two different routes. Route one was a circle. Route two would be through the heart of the forest and come out to Lake Babe where a boat could pick us up. I emphasize "could". We would have to get in touch with the boat and since there is no cell phone service in the middle of nowhere that would have been a problem. The other problem would have been that Oot said we'd probably each get a bunch of leaches on us if we went that way. (Note: To be honest, I wanted to get a leach on me. How cool of a blog would that be?)

(PICTURE: A good way to get leaches. Stand By Me anyone?)

5. Being invited into an ethnic villagers house and eating a corn dish with broth. Huyen explained to me that the villagers were so poor that they couldn't afford to eat rice despite the fact that they grow rice themselves. They sell their own rice in the market for meat.

6. The fact that Oot -- a grandmother mind you -- was not only was less tired than us the whole time, but that she also carried a log with an orchid on it for 75% of the trip.

(PICTURE: Oot and her Orchid)

7. Huyen's ridiculously big walking stick.

8. The fact that I carried a watermelon for maybe five miles so we could eat it for lunch. Yeah, it wasn't worth it.

Overall the trek was great. When we got back all we wanted was a hot, powerful shower...but those things don't exist in Babe. We settled for some drips of warm water while being swarmed by gigantic mosquitos.