Well even if nobody else seemed to need it, I definitely needed a lie in after last night’s over excesses. I awoke to various discussions being had over the prospect of going canyoning in the area. According to Phuong’s boss, a leading expert in the area, canyoning today was going to be a no go with any company in the area. However, as the morning wore on and more people seemed to be up for canyoning and Lucy investigated the possibilities of doing it elsewhere – things began to change somewhat. It seems that the reason canyoning could not be done was due to the government trying to extract more money from the activity directly. There were an awful lot of rumours flying around about this but from what we could glean, the course which had always been used was now in government control and they were wanting extortion money from tourists to use it. Our hotel manager had ventured forth early in the morning to try and find a suitable replacement (?). I have no idea how you find a place you can go canyoning without trying it first nd did not like the sound of us perhaps being the guinea pigs. However, he could not find anything so was going to use the resident ‘ tried and tested’ place anyhow and to hell with government intervention! In Vietnam this could mean anything from a lot of shouting and carrying on, to a bullet so this was not to be taken lightly. Still we all signed up along with an extra couple of Kiwis from the hotel owner’s other hotel.
We got changed into our canyoning wetsuits before leaving the hotel and then jumped onto the minibus which had arrived to pick us up. The canyoning ‘place’ turned out to a good way out from Dalat and the drop off point that we pulled up to simply looked like an ordinary lay-by next to a forested valley. So there we were, there were no police or government cordons around the area so all seemed to be going good as far as us being shot at was concerned.
We trekked down the short way into the valley for the start of the canyoning ‘experience’. Here our guide gave us instruction in the basics of abseiling before giving us a bit of a go at it down the slopes. We needed to convince him that we were not only up for the challenge but also that we could handle the equipment, consisting of the ropes and the belay device – the thing which stops you hurtling downwards. It all seemed easy enough on the slopes the next part was to try it ‘for real’. The first descent was quite a gentle one and all the while our guide made sure we were happy and had the safety ropes on as well which makes you feel a lot easier when having a go at this kind of thing. It is one of those activities which after the first time you do it, it gets easier but it doesn’t half make the heart go the first time you do it. Actually we all buoyed up each other and were all cheering each other on which makes it easier. After the first abseil was a bit of a slide down between some rocks and I tried filming this whilst sliding, which was hopeless! The next ‘sell’ was a bit more difficult as this time we were going down a waterfall through the water itself. This made the descent a fair bit more difficult but again we all managed it.
The last waterfall we went down we could not actually see where we were going so it was even more of a test of the nerve. I went first as well which gave the speed of my heart a right quickening. The bottom part of the fall is called ‘the washing machine’ and after this, at the very end, you actually had to make a jump for it. The actual canyoning experience was not all about abseiling though and all the day and throughout all the other scary stuff that we had done the very last part was the one which I was having the biggest difficulties coming to terms with. This was the ‘leap of faith’, a leap from the cliff into the pool below. The guide explained that he would not even allow us to do this unless we looked ‘up for it’. There were two levels of jump, the 8m and the 14m jump, the second of which you have to run and jump over as if you do not you will make it over the obstructions below – gulp. I hated this and really was not keen but I went for the smaller jump first, which I did but did not enjoy it. So we went back up to have a look at the higher jump and Liz just ran and jumped off and did it, just like that! She had done it and I was left simply stood at the top with my jaw wide open wondering what the F!ck!
I had always assumed, albeit I had never actually voiced my thoughts, that we were together on this and were both abstaining, Liz obviously thought differently though! As a youngster due to my fear (dread) of heights I could not even jump from the lower boards at the local baths and this jump would be higher than the highest diving board. But here I was, stood at the top and upstaged by my wife, of all people. My ego had been sorely tested, so what could I do, I jumped, I actually jumped, this I hated even worse than the smaller jump but I did it. I had done it and no-one was more surprised than I was. Unlike others who upon doing the jump, had sparked their adrenalin and they wanted more, I was more on the ‘Oh my God I want to vomit’ approach to my celebrations. Once done though it was a big walk up to the roadway which was a huge task in itself and we were already quite tired out by the day’s exertions. Overall though the day had been a great success and although I hated it, I had jumped from the cliff but this is a fete I will never ever ever ever do again, even if my wife does do it before me!
Once back to our digs, after a bit of a rest and a break, it was now time to party. The food was not that great though as we ate at a shack Phuong took us too nearby the hotel. The ‘food’ being some folded pancakes containing skin on shrimps – I, and my teeth, can still not get used to this particular eating habit in SE Asia but they seem to like it. So it was back to the hotel to play some pool and I had a really good night playing it, even the flukes were coming off which made for a good laugh with the other nationalities. The night however was slightly marred by Sue having the feeling that I looked like Marty Feldman. If you need to, please look up Marty Feldman, he is a man whose comedic ‘look’ consisted of him looking like he had been plugged into the mains and his eyes were making a break from his head. This is not a look I commonly feel I sport so I shall hold this against Sue for the rest of my life … lol. I made sure she understood the gravity of my hurt feelings and she seemed to find that funny. You can see why England has disowned these Australian heathens, can’t you? (LOL).