Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Trek

(PICTURE: The trekkers on top of the mountain.)

The final event planned for the "honeymoon" was for sixteen of us to trek to an ethnic village and do a homestay. While planning this portion of the trip, we were giving a variety of different descriptions of the hike by the people we asked in Mai Chau. About a week before the trek, we were told that the hike would be 30KM (18.6 miles) and would take eight hours -- one way.

The news of the length and time of the hike made quite a few of our guests a tad bit nervous since not everyone was exactly in half-marathon-plus-five-miles shape. Huyen and I could tell that a few people were actually starting to dread the hike so we figured out an alternative plan. The first day we would hike all the way to the homestay (which ended up being 25Kms/15.5 miles) and then the next day we would walk only 1KM (0.62 miles) and get picked up by the giant pink bus. When first hearing this option my reaction was, "So we're basically hiking to a place that is next to a road?". My worry was that we wouldn't be hiking in the middle of nowhere as I had promised everyone. It turned out that I had nothing to worry about because the hike was absolutely spectacular and took us through completely remote areas.

(PICTURE: A typical portion of the trek.)

Some of the memorable moments were:

1. My sister falling on her butt.

(PICTURE: Hannah's normal hiking position.)

2. Urszula scraping her ankle and thinking she had been poisoned. At some point her hands started to swell which was a sure sign that the rock she cut her ankle on had injected her with something lethal. Luckily we all soon realized that our hands were swollen and it was the altitude and perhaps salty lunch that had given us fat fingers.

3. Me learning my first lesson in marriage - a husband sometimes has to carry his wife's bag.

(PICTURE: Marriage.)

4. Our lunch picnic of sticky rice and bananas. After lunch we all washed our hands in this stream:

(PICTURE: Dana, Anthony, me and Hannah.)

5. JR nearly getting attacked by this angry water buffalo:

(PICTURE: Our guides walking stick saved JR from being lanced by this guy.)

6. Huyen showing off her acrobatics:

(PICTURE: My children will be able to dunk!!!!...on a short basket.)

7. JR using the last disposable camera on Earth.

(PICTURE: JR had this camera left over from when we studied abroad in London in 1999).

8. Hannah being told by an old man that, "you're very beautiful but you have too many spots."

9. Our guide clearly wanting to move at twice the pace that we wanted to.

10. Sebastian going missing...but that's a story for tomorrow.