It's Monday now and I'm back from the 3 day trek. It was a really great experience. Tough but enjoyable.
We started in a small village around 10am on Friday. The walk on day one was quite easy and didn't involve too much ascent. We stopped quite often as the girls in the group wanted a picture time every now and then. We had lunch after about 2.5 hours and it was really delicious! The guys were carrying it with them and we got some sticky rice, meat and veg. I suppose the fatigue and landscape added to the taste.
We stopped at a village to have a quick look around but proceeded to the next one where we would stay for the night. One of the interesting sight was a local school that was just another holding with no flooring but had some chalk boards. There were some posters with animals and platnts' names and basic arythmetics. it was still holidays time for the kids so we didn't see any lessons. I was laughing a bit when I saw how much attention (including a photo session) the farm animals got from the others in the group. I suppose that's an unusual view for someone who spent a childhood in London...
We arrived to the Ban nam Koy village just after 3pm. I think there were about 10-15 huts just by the river. We got a special hut for us with one long bench for sleeping and some area for the fire.
Myself and Thorsten decided for a quick 'shower' in the river. It was quite shallow and cold but still a great way to refresh after the trek.
The guides with the locals got on making a dinner and we got another feast. Good choice and really delicious. And definitely organic!
The locals had some beers for sale so we couldn't say no to cold beer Lao! They had to carry the bottles to village as there's no road bu still charged only 50% more than Inge restaurant in town. We ended up having a few bottles each at £1.25.
We also got some Lao Lao (local whiskey made of rice) for dinner. It tasted nice and had a good kick.
After dinner we sat by the fire for a while and went to bed around 22. The guides came back after a while quite drunk from the Lao Lao they had with the locals...
We woke up around 7 and started preparing for he day. We had to split today as the girls were going in another direction. The guides just mentioned in passing that for us guys it is going to be the hardest day. Just to make things a bit more difficult it started to rain - rather unusual in the dry season. Luckily I had some poncho and water proof trousers.
We set off around 9.15. After about 10 minutes walking we came to a bamboo bridge that we were supposed to cross. Our local guide went first and didn't look impressed. The bridge was in a very bad shape and they suggested we get wet and cross the river. After some thinking they took our bags and let us go via the bridge. Torsten went first. I followed after him and got scared in the middle. There were a lot of holes and missing bamboo. I managed to crash some old poles just at he end. My adrenaline levels spiked! But after a while I was on the other side. Looking back we thought I was rather risky to use the bridge but hey, we did it.
We continued through unused rice fields to the jungle. We had some ascent which we thought was tough but were told it's the easy one today. After a descend we stopped for lunch. It was really good again and had sticky rice and meat plus veg. All eaten by hands from a banana leaf.
After lunch we started the hard ascent. It took us good 40 minutes to continuously climb up on a muddy and slippery track. Exhausted we reached the top. I was completely wet not from the rain but the sweat as the poncho wasn't breathable. Just when we thoughts things would get easy we had to descend. It wasn't maybe so demanding physically but took us more time the to go up. Even with some walking sticks we went step by step with a maximum concentration. The heavy bag and poncho didn't help. Luckily, we reached the camp without slipping but were quite exhausted mentally from calculating each step.
We have reached the camp around 15.00.
It was a roofed bamboo structure that was completely open in the front.
We had some mats but also got mattresses that hey store there. There was only a small stream so not that great to refresh which we didn't really feel like in the rain anyway. The guides started a fire and got onto preparing dinner. This time we got a fried papaya with dried beef and chillies on the side. I've never had a fried papaya but it tasted really great. We were all quite tired and went to sleep around 19. It wasn't easy to fall asleep due to all the noises from he jungle. I had no idea what it was made by and didn't want to know. I still managed to get a good night sleep anyway.
After almost 12 hours sleep we got up for breakfast. No surprises here - sticky rice(!) and omelet. Some hot mint tea, dressing up in rather damp clothes and we set off again. Luckily it stopped raining but it was still wet and slippery.
We proceeded through the jungle again. The trees changed from bamboo to other ones depending on the altitude. The trek was really enjoyable with only some parts requiring a lot of concentration and attention. We saw some wild mangos and things on he way. At some point we saw hundreds of spiders 'falling' from a single bush. It was extraordinary view and even the local guide didn't know what it was.
At some point he local guide saw some rattan and cut quite a lot of the tree for a little bit of the top that is edible. We didn't get it to try though.
After a few hours we stopped in a small hut on a rice field and had lunch. Guess what - yes, sticky rice again! This time with dried beef and green beans.
About 40 minutes later and after crossing the stream 8 times (note to North Face who made my goretex shoes - stop calling them waterproof. It's a big lie! I got water inside after crossing the second stream! If I find a receipt I will go back to the shop and complain.) we got into the final village. The minivan was waiting for us already. We were a bit disappointed as the locals had some festival that lasted a few days and they tried to invite us for a beer. We really wanted to but he guides we're in a rush to get back and didn't let us. About 1.5 hours later we came back to the office.
Immediately after we went for cold beer Lao. Then another guest house (£5 a night) and a hot shower. The owner was quite right when he said there is not water - it was really hot and you couldn't mix it with cold water...
We went for dinner to the papaya restaurant and tried some local dishes. I had some Lao style chicken with noodles, cucumber salad and pineapple shake. All delicious for £4...
I was back in bed by 22 and didn't have any problems to go to sleep. I was quite tired after the three days.
Tomorrow I will go and look for another trek (if my shoes get dry that is).
Overall, a really great trek!