Sunday, November 21, 2010

LangBiang Mountain (Da Lat, Vietnam)

Colin and I decided to go for a hike today to Langbiang Mountain. This story will be told mostly in pictures-which don't nearly do the beauty or the exertion of this hike justice.

It seems to have become a theme that every time Colin and I decide to do something (i.e rock climbing in Saigon turned into soaking wet clothes and smore making) it starts to rain.

So in keeping with tradition, just a few steps inside of the park, it starts to rain.

We bought little plastic sheaths and up we went. (halfway through the hike they were shredded so badly that we just stuffed them in our packs and hiked soaking wet.

To start, we followed a steep, paved road/path to the most popular summit of Langbiang.

Most people choose to take a jeep up to the top. We decided to do it on our own, despite the weather.

Oh but first I have to mention the "zebra" we ran into. At first we were both really confused. "Are there zebras in Southeast Asia?" Our confusion turns to laughter as when we get closer we see the our "zebra" is just one of the "semi-wide" horses someone has painted to look like a zebra.

That's pretty clever, and probably took some work! Apparently there are a few groups of horses that live in the area. I've heard them referred to as "semi-wild" horses as they don't belong to anyone and just live in the mountain of their own accord.

The hike was beautiful! Lush green, rolling hills/mountains, even with severely obscured viewing I lost my breathe a few times and just let my spirit soar!

Most of our hike was a in a pleasant, light rain. We even saw some of the semi-wild horses along the way, looking very mystical in the clouds we were hiking through.

As we neared the summit it began to pour, really clouding up our view. Once at the top we had some warm drinks (restaurant closed due to no one else being crazy enough to summit in the weather to see a view that is completely white-washed out). and played with a kitten.

We used the same goldfish to make friends with this kitten as we used on the bus to make friends with the baby. There you have it: goldfish=friends.

On our way back down we noticed another trail.... :) unpaved. Knowing we were running out of time and with the weather being terrible and most likely having to come back in the dark of night, we smiled at each other and started down the trail, or should I say UP. This isn't something I'd be stupid enough to do on my own but having a second willing traveler does open up some avenues for more adventurous undertakings.
The hike was wicked awesome! the would-be trail was quickly flooded out and we found ourselves tramping through an instantly formed creek several inches deep.

The peak in the distance behind me is the eventual summit.
The muddy brown clay started pouring from the mountain sides. It's a wonder how there is anything left of the mountain at all after that rainstorm, let alone after a full season of rains like that year after year. Up and up we go. Straight up sometimes. Many sections of this hike even felt very much like rock climbing. :D HEE! Instead of actual rocks, though, I was grasping roots and creating my own holds in the slick, soft red-brown clay. Mmmmm....I LOVED IT! The climb was straight vertical on my than one occasion.

I slipped only on one of these occasions.

Colin calls this picture "photography before chivalry". He did try to help me up afterward, but some things are just easier on you own. :)

We pushed our way through the thick jungle-forest, against the rushing water that had completely flooded the trail

and then FINALLY....the SUMMIT!

It was much much further away and much much higher than anticipated, but the journey itself was worth the trip. Even if the view from the top looked like this:

Completely whited out from the storm.

Sure enough, by the time we got back to where the the original break off from the paved trail was (a little over half way to the top of the first, paved summit) it was black outside. dark. dark. dark. With my poor night vision and Colin's glasses completely fogged up we laughed all the more and continued down the steep slope to the bottom. Finally at the bottom, we realized that there was no more transportation for the night and all the few shops at the entrance were closed. Fortunately for us, a small family was gathered around their television and hunkering down for the night (many of them live in or above their businesses). I'm sure we're not the first idiot travelers they've run into, but you wouldn't know it with how kind they were. They called a cab for us, which had to come all the way from town (about 20 min away) and were sweet enough to bring us some warm tea, which was very much appreciated as I was a popsicle by this time.

I don't do cold well at all and although this was Thailand I had spent the last 7 hours in hiking in a rainstorm that had turned cool toward the evening and now it was night and I was no longer moving. I was COLD! Colin was appropriately concerned and filled our "in-room spa", which was more like an oversized bathtub, when we got back to our awesome hotel and made me get in (in my swimsuit of course) while he prepared a delightful meal of left over chocolate and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was already half way through my sandwich when he got in his skivvies as well and smashed into the warm water. We laughed uncontrollably for a few minutes while we tried to adjust in the tiny tub and just got used to the others feet in our space. We only had about 4 inches of water when the hot water started to run out so we took turns getting to be waste deep while the other one's legs were barely covered. Of course, becaue he has a good mother, and I was freezing and am defenseless against the cold, I got the first real shower. I think we both slept pretty well that night and woke up to that once again magical spread of deliciousness that is breakfast at this hotel. Yes, I'd say this trip is going quite well. Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.

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