Edit Blog Post
Published: December 13th 2009
We woke up early in the morning to have our last restaurant breakfast, most had chocolate and banana or pineapple pancakes. Then after last minute packing and dumping of excess items in our upstairs room we wandered over to Phat Tire to start our trek.
As soon as we walked in the door we meet our three lovely (and in some cases gorgeous) guides: Dinh, Linh and Minh (who we called 'Candy' or 'Candyboy' etc.) They gave us our tents, food and water to refill our newly emptied bags. Then we all hopped into our minivans and headed off to Chicken Village at the base of Elephant Mountain.
We walked to first 30 minutes to our bags through beautiful country farm land with Olivia pointing out the names of all the plants we passed. However the sun was out and there was no shade so we were all cooking in our long pants. Once we reached out bags we had a quick strip down into our shorts and we set off again, this time with packs, up the huge mountain before us.
It was very hot, hard and slippery because the path maker of Vietnam decided to build the path next to a creek. We all made it up though after many breaks to have lunch by and little river. Whilst having lunch Lynnie was the first one to spot an orange tag, left all over the trek by the other OLSH team who did the same trek just a few weeks previous.
We were soon off again determined to beat the other team of Mill Park and East Doncaster World challengers that were hot on our tail. As we sweated our way up another huge hill Candy tried to comfort us by telling us there was only 30 minutes left. So obviously we were very surprised when we arrived at camp only 30 SECONDS(!!!!) later.
We set up our tents and climbed straight into bed ready for sleep, pity it was only 1:30. So we all climbed out of bed and passed the time by swinging on the tarzan vine, playing card games (spit, go fish and bullshit were very popular) and talking to the other group who were at our campsite. After a quick dinner and group meeting we all climbed into bed relieved that day 1 was over.
We all woke up very early on day 2 probably due to going to bed so early, but we had all packed up by about 8:30 and had breakfast (baguettes with various toppings) before starting off trekking again. We continued up Elephant Mountain jumping over all the rocks, roots and vines whilst trying not to slip on all moss and leaves. We reached the top sweaty and exhasted at about 10:30 and had a 'packs off' break with a side of oreos.
After a few minutes of rest we headed back down the other side of Elephant Mountain. Some found going down much more enjoyable because we were able to talk, sing and laugh at out horrible singing, whilst others found it was too painful on there toes, ankles and knees (or toenails in olivia's case). Going down did have its problems for the uncoordinated as demonstrated by Emma Traynor when she sat down in the long grass whilst we waited for the rest of the group to catch up. When she needed to be pulled back up Bridie helped her but once standing she seemed to fall backwards in slow motion straight into the grass that was taller than her, screaming that she 'didn't want to get eaten by snakes'. They made it through unscathed, pity the same thing cannot be said for the grass which has two body imprints in it now.
Anyway we reached the bottom and had a lunch of baguettes. However lunch was invaded by a bee who flew around scaring many of the girls causing them to jump up and get dirt in our food. Even though we were told to stay still and the bee would leave us alone, that was wrong because the only person who did stay still was stung, poor Nicole.
We were all anxious to get moving on from lunch with the promise of an afternoon swim. So the guides packed up lunch and we go going for about 30 minutes to the base of a beautiful lake.
We caught a boat across the lake to our campsite, set up our tents and got into our bathers. Then we all raced down to the 30 metre deep lake and dove in, Cody in the lead of course. We swam around and treaded water a good hour, relaxing and unwinding after a long days work and then had to swim back to shore because we were exhausted. Whilst waiting to dry we all went and patted Rod the elephant, who April, Nicole and Maddie had ridden just before we swam. For the rest of the afternoon most people killed time by hanging in their tents and eating the large amount of food they had brought (pringles, oreos, mars bars, choco pies, mentos etc.) Then we headed off to the local restaurant for dinner. We were given heaps of food and everyone filled up quickly. After dinner we went to sit around the bonfire were the local guides told us stories and we play some camping games. It was actually very fun but eventually it got late. So exhausted, full and hot we all headed back to our tents, or in Sarahs case hammock, for a good nights sleep.
Day 3's packing up was alot more efficient then we had breakfast of eggs and noodle soup, it was ....interesting. Then we all got on the boat back to the mainland, we were all very unprepared for the battle that lay ahead of us. Without any warm up walking, no flat land we started walking uphill up Pinhatt Mountain. And we kept walking uphill. With no breaks. And no end in sight. It was so hard, hot and sweaty. Everyone was crying, in pain and wanting to give. Although in true OLSH spirit we helped each other, because if we were going to conquer this mountain we were going to conquer it together. Cassie had horrible asthma so Cody was pushing her up the hill. Bella was struggling with her asthma too so Bridie ran her up the mountain, dragging her all the way. And April was pulling up the rear helped by Maddie and Emily. There was so much encouragement going around it was almost overwhelming. When a few people had finished they would run back down to the people coming up and help the climb back up. Great team work guys!
Once everyone had reached the top we all lay down and ate some lollies relieved that the first struggle was over. A few minutes later however we were back off down the mountain trying to mentally prepare ourselves for the next hill. Within a few minutes of the next hill we were dying again. Candy told us we were still 45 minutes to the peak and it made us want to cry but we had a break for a few minutes and set off around the next bend. And guess what was just around the next bend, only 10 seconds from our break spot... the peak of Pinhatt Mountain! Silly, lying Vietnamese guides. Nobody even cared about how hard it was anymore thought; we were all celebrating, screaming, hugging and high-fiving. "Yay we had finished the mountain"
From the top of Pinhatt Mountain you could see the whole of Dalat. It was breath-takingly beautiful. For a good hour we took photos: group, pair and indivivual, so don't worry you will see it all. We also relaxed, ate food, drank water and tried to take in the spectacular effort we had just exerted.
Inspired by the promise of lunch when we got to the bottom we set off again. April was sick though (Alec told her not to have coke with breakfast!) so it slowed our process a bit. We all help out once again and she got to the bottom with Alec carrying both Aprils and his own packs. At the bottom of the mountain we had lunch of baguettes, collected so more group items and set off on a short stroll down to our campsite.
There was a bit of fussing around with positions of tents because our entire campsite was on a hill and nobody wanted to be falling down hill all night. However about an hour later we were all back in the water just like yesterday and washing off another days work. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the Vietnamese boys make our dinner or getting your hair braided by Laura and Olivia. Dinner was delicious lots of noodles, vegies and sauces. Then everyone was back in tents for their second last sleep in a tent!! The night didn't go so well for Emma Lund who forgot to zip up the bottom of her tent and ended up sliding out in the middle of the night... nice one Emma. p.s Miss Egan cheated with her donkey (Candy) carrying her pack up and down the mountains while the rest of us sweated and struggled with ours.
Today started of deliciously with the boys cooking us eggs in baguettes but the main highlight was the milo. God do we miss milo. Everyone had roughly packed their bags because... guess what??... NO PACKS TODAY! We brought out packs to the top of the hill and gladly chucked them in the back of a minivan to be taken back to Dalat. Then we set off through the jungle alot less burdened.
Todays walking songs were Christmas songs because it was only two weeks until Christmas. Some of the favourites were 'jingle bells', 'jingle bell rock' (complete with dance routine), 'All I want for Christmas is you', 'Santa Claus is coming to town' or (April's favourite) 'I saw mummy kissing Santa Claus'. It was an enjoyable mornings hike we did a bit of rock climbing, some hacking through the jungle, made our own stairs down the steep bits and eventually stopped at a beautiful waterfall.
Once again there were many group photos and then we were given the news that we would have to climb up the waterfall!!! Well it wasn't really that dramatic, we walked through the water to a rope which we climbed up a slope, not that hard. Not that hard for some anyway, Leah was holding the guides hand and was slowly walking across the rocks when her feet slipped out from under her and she fell straight into the river; saturating both her and guide. After we made it throught the waterfall we climbed another mountain. We were slightly better today because of all the practise we had had the day before.Cody however had rolled her ankle in the morning walking through the jungle, but fighter that she is she tried to climb the mountain anyway. With much support from her friends and bravery from her, we all made it up to the bus back to Dalat.
Once back in Dalat we were given a two hour shopping limit whilst many ran off to get clothes and shoes, others went to restock the very much depleted food stocks and the rest went to go get some western lunch (chicken snitzel and french fries). We were all very satisfied with our afternoons work and were ready to be driven to our campsite but oh no. We were driven to the base of the mountain and made to climb up!
We actually only ended up climbing about 1/4 of the way up the mountain but they never shared that with us. Some of us found it quite hard but others like Sarah thought it would be fun to run it, annoyingly fit person. We all made it to the rope bridge to our campsite thought and went across - two at a time.
For our last night together we had traditional vietnamese food and everyone helped,especially masterchef Jyoti. It was very enjoyable. We tasted so many different foods and it was incredible to watch them prepare with such poor utensils. We eventually all gathered on the group tarp for our last meal together, and demolished the food because it was fantastic. After dinner we gathered around the bonfire whilst some went to watch the stars. It was a very peaceful and relaxing last night camping.
Our last day how sad. We were up earlier than normal to seperate Phat Tires equipment from our own. Then after breakfast of baguettes (bet you couldn't have guessed that) we got rid of our packs and hopped into the 'jurassic park' jeeps that took us up to the top of Lang Biang. It was beauiful up there. The whole world seemed to stretch out from under your feet. We got many group photos and bought some souvenirs that got back onto our jeeps.
At the bottom of the mountain we got into two minivans and drove back to Dalat. As soon as we arrived in Dalat it was a race so that everyone could get a shower in the hour before the bus to Nha Trang came. It was lovely to be all fresh and clean again but not so lovely to have all of our excess gear back in our bags, gosh it makes your bag heavy. Too quickly we were all back on a bus heading to Nha Trang to get our over night train. After watching Transformers and Twilight we arrived at Nha Trang. There we sat around and waited for 4 hours for our train.
It was so confusing when our train came because all our instructions came in Vietnamese. Sarah did brilliantly and directed us all into our 6 bunk rooms. They were TINY, many of the girls were very claustrophobic and had to step out into the squishy corridors for some air. Everyone eventually got to sleep though, except for our brilliant leaders so the 10 hour journey to Danang flew by.
Tot: 2.675s; Tpl: 0.088s; cc: 5; qc: 44; dbt: 0.0396s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb