Published: April 4th 2012March 30th 2012
Looking back its hard to believe that I've been on the road for about three months now. Sometimes it feels like an eternity, other times like nothing. Timing has been perfect and whether it's been alone, or with people, every day has been great. Surprising to me, I've been here in Laos for over a month now. Never would I have expected to end up here for so long, but that's the beauty of backpacking with no set plan. When you find a place you enjoy, you stay for a while. For me, Tha Khaek was a place like that. I happened upon it by chance and ended up staying there for two weeks. I guess I wasn't in Tha Khaek for two weeks, but 12 km outside of Tha Khaek in the mountains at a newly opened rock climbing paradise called Green Climbers Home.
Before Tha Khaek I was in Vang Vieng. It was there that I met Charlotte, La Reoux, and Jeanette. They had each come to Asia on their own to climb throughout the region. Charlotte from Scotland, La Reoux from South Africa and Jeanette from the west coast of the US. They told me about Green
Climbers Home and invited me to come with them to learn how to climb. How could I say no? We hopped on a local bus, and seven hour later arrived in Tha Khaek.
We arrived in at the Thakhek bus statioin late, grabbed some food, and haggled with a tuk-tuk driver to take us to our destination. Our directions were horrible, if anything, almost non-existent, but the driver seemed pretty willing to take us. Driving into the mountains we could see the the dark silhouettes of the mountains pressing high against the starlit sky. We knew were headed in the right direction. Smiles grew on our faces as we made a turn onto a dirt path and saw a sign reading “Welcome to Green Climbers Home”.
Tanja and Uli greeted us at the lounge area where there were seven other people sitting around drinking and eating. The two of them from Germany had opened up Green Climbers Home back in November and were still working out all the kinks. La Reoux, Charlotte, Jeanette and I grabbed some drinks to celebrate our arrival.
For two weeks I climbed rock faces that I never once thought I could. La
Reoux, Charlotte, and Jeanette taught me everything: tying knots, belaying, leading, cleaning, and how to visualize everything before I do it. I lead my first route after two days. For those of you that don't know what leading is, it involves going up the crag without a top rope. You have a rope attached to you from below, and have to make your way to the top of the rock in order to setup a top rope to repel down from. For me, it was an adrenaline rush. Climbing, falling, giving it my all to get past the crux of the climb. If it weren't for my shoulder that gave me some pain, without a doubt I would have stayed another two weeks. I hope that when I get back to the states, I continue climbing.
Two weeks flew by, and for me, it was time to leave. It was tough to say goodbye to the three of them. We had been together for what felt like three months but was just three weeks. I headed out to the road with my pack, hitchhiked back down to the bus station and hopped on a bus six hours south. With
a little over a week left in Laos it was time to head to the Boleven Plateau, and The 4,000 Islands.
There are more photos below