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Travel Heart

What Goes Down, Must Come Up

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 5 June 2007 | Views [1312] | Comments [2]

Kudos to Isaac Newton for discovering the Law of Gravity based on the simple premis, "What goes up, must come down." I find however that the opposite is true when it comes to hiking: "What goes down, must come up." At least this seems to be true in Vietnam and South China. Just about the time you're enjoying a nice downhill you look up and realize "S***, in about 15 mintes I'm going to have to climb OUT of this lovely ravine...!"

I hate hiking, really, no matter how often I do it it never gets easier! Add to the fact that my two pax are 26 and 29 yr old males and fitness freaks (!!) and I am way out of my league. We finished the recommended 4-6 hr hike through Kaili in just UNDER 4 hours.... shoot me now (lol). The Sapa hike was a little better, but I think it's written in the universe somewhere that I'm not allowed to make it through a tour without tripping or skinning my knees or otherwise embarassing myself in some such way. This time it happened near the end of the first day trekking in Sapa; the guys had got on ahead and I tend to go slowly because I seem to have issues with b-a-l-a-n-c-e. I got annoyed with myself though that I couldn't keep up, so I tried to pick up my pace going down this trail -- not 10 steps later I had a misstep and landed in a ditch!! I have a lovely scratch the length of my left forearm now, thank you very much, and I plan to maintain my slower but SAFER pace next trek! ;-)

One of the highlights of this trip for me was during the Sapa hike, we got to stop at a local farmer's house and see how they live. There are many minory tribes in Vietnam and China (55 in Vietnam and 50 in China), and we got to see at least 4 of them on this trip: the Miao, Dong, H'mong, and Zao. The farmer's house was of the Red Zao minority, where the women have no eyebrows and their heads are shaved! They wear big red scarves with tassles on them to cover their heads instead. The reason they shave their eyebrows and their heads because a few hundred years ago a man died after eating dinner and they later found a hair in his food... so because one man died a long long time ago, all the women in this tribe now shave their heads... WOW.

I've also seen in several minority groups the women wear wrappings around their lower legs, looks kind of like shin guards. We found out on this trip that, at least for the Zao people, they wear those because they want their calf muscles to be smaller and more beautiful! They run up and down the mountain trails all day everyday, and they dont want to develop large calf muscles! Isnt that crazy?


An alternate title to this blog was going to be "Looking on the Bright Side" because I've had to do that on several occasions throughout the trip. Just to kick it off right, the second day of the trip I got pickpocketed in Kaili! It could have been SOOO much worse though... I had just come from the bank where I withdrew 6300 Chinese Yuan; I felt a bit conspicuous in the bank so I didnt take the time to put the money in my Intrepid wallet, I just shoved it all in the front of my backpack (sounds stupid, but it turned out to save my ass). As I was walking back to the hotel someone bumped into me really hard. I immemdiately thought "pickpocket" but when I looked around I didnt see anything. A minute later two teenage girls stopped me and said someone had stolen my red wallet out of my bag! I checked my bag and the person had unzipped the side and nicked my red Intrepid wallet.. but I had put all that cash in the front of my bag! All they got was about 800 Yuan (about $125 US). They didnt get the 6300 Yuan, nor did they get the $400 US that I had in another compartment, or my camera, or my personal wallet with 2 credit cards and my drivers license! I'll say it again, this could've been SOOO much worse!

Our living conditions got worse a few days later when we took a boat downstream to a village called Chong'An. I'd been warned by two preivous tour leaders and I warned my passengers, this place looked like it was closed during the Cultural Revolution and reopened the day before we got there. Even this warning did not prepare me for the condition of the place; it was a HOVEL. It was actually a little bit funny because I had just pointed out the most decrepit building on the riverside and asked "what happened to that place?" ... and that turned out to be our stopping place. Suffice it to say my pax were a bit "China'd out" as they put it, by the time we got to Vietnam. Particularly after we saw a man in a village roasting a dog... on the sidewalk, with a blowtorch! Crazy, this trip has been crazy. But even at that the guys have never really complained. They were pretty happy to get to Vietnam though :-)

My two pax have been the delight of this trip for me; the trip had the potential for disaster, but the two passengers I had made it really great. The two young guys, David and Ali, are super chill, never complained about anything, didnt seem to have any expectations other than seeing what might happen each day. On a side note: David looks like Hugh Grant's Irish roommate in Notting Hill and Ali looks like a shorter Vin Deisel :-D And on the Sapa hike Ali said I look a bit like Carmen Electra! So we were 3 movie stars travelling together ;-)


That's all for now folks. I'm off to THAILAND on in a few days!! I get to visit one of my very best friends from San Diego, so I could not be more happy right now. :-D Cheers! Take care, love you all <3

Currently Reading: The Alchemist, Paulo Cuero

Current Injury: did you miss the part about me falling in a ditch?? ;-)

Tags: The Great Outdoors



Hi Jami- glad to hear that your hanging in there so well. The goofy mishaps are fun to share with everyone here at the hotel, we all wish you well!!!

  DannyC Jun 7, 2007 1:50 AM


Wow! A lot has happened since we spoke last week. See, I told you that you would be a good writer... and you are. You are a fabulous story teller and travel companion. I'm sure you pax were thrilled to have you as their guide. I'm just glad you didn't fall down something big!! ;> I love you... and have a great time

  Mama Jun 7, 2007 12:34 PM

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