July 4, 2005

hiking around dalat

we just finished a two day hiking, one night "camping" trip around dalat

it was an organized tour done via phat tire ventures. the hike we did was called jungle fever. it was a two day, one night hike that went through some varried terrain. we went through pine forests, jungle, and pushed our way through lots of tall ferns and reeds.
one of the difficult parts of the hike was that when you weren't in the jungle the trail you were hiking on was mostly hard damp clay, so there was a lot of slipping going on. i took a couple really good bails and a lot of close calls.
to make a bad situation worse, it also seems that they are compleatly unfamiliar with the concept of switchbacks here, so when there was a serious hill to climb you would simply go strait up it on the slippery clay trail. good luck. for the second day they gave us walking sticks since they could see we were struggeling.
another interesting thing we learned was that there are leecehs in the jungles. they're not like leeches i'm familiar with from movies and novels. they look like little worms, about an inch long, and pretty narrow. (about 1/16 of an inch.) they gave us some extra large "socks" to protect us from the leeches. we put these new "socks" over our hiking socks and into our boots. they came up to our knees and after putting them on we smeared the exposed outside of these "socks" with some ointment that would stop the leeches from crawling up past the top of the "socks."
the night was supposed to be spent "camping", and it was... kinda. we spent the night in a tent, on a concrete slab, under a large thatch umbrella. we were staying at a lakeside "resort" where there were lots of concrete slabs for people to sleep on. each of the slabs was protected by a large thatch umbrella, which was handy since it was raining most the night. the resort also had a large central building with no walls, just a really big thatch roof, that served as a dining area. we had dinner and breakfast here. they also (thank god) had a small store where we could buy over priced canned beer.
lastly, the resort had a bunch of "pets." their "pets" were a couple elephants which you could pay to ride. instead me and ronda bought a couple bunches of bananas and fed them instead. i've never been that close to an animal that big. the larger of the two was almost twice as tall as me. it was pretty cool. they also had a couple cages with monkeys in them that looked pretty sad. we tried to feed the monkeys bananas only to discover they weren't interested and all they really wanted was grass. they had already eaten all the grass they could reach so ronda went around ripping up grass else where and feeding it to them. the last entry to the "pets" collection was a couple horses that ronda of course said "hi" too.
we also had a pretty good hiking guide that spoke resonable english. we spent a good bit of time talking to him about vietnam and we had some good conversations.
we got done with the hike just in time since it started ito rain really heavily on our drive back to dalat. needless to say we were quite tired afterwards. (we spent the day before the hike biking around dalat, which is a pretty hilly town, so we were already tired and sore when we got started.)

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