K and I keep saying that we need to take some weekend trips on night buses from the city and not think about how long they are and how tired we will be when we arrive back Sunday night, so this last weekend, we finally do it. "Team Dalat" consists of three Canadian teachers from the elementary school:, K, Michael, Shannon, and me (I'm close enough to Canada and elementary school, I suppose) and we catch the 7:15 pm bus Friday night from the backpacker district, to arrive in Dalat at 2:00 am.
Are you an adrenalin junkie? Do you love the water? If so this adventure is for you! Professionally trained guides will show you the ropes and prepare you for the journey down the waterfalls. No previous experience is necessary for this action-packed day of hiking, rapelling, swimming, and sliding down the falls!
OK, the answer to question #1 , for me, is "No." I do not have the kind of adrenaline that compels me over cliffs. But K answers "yes" to that question, and since she organized the trip, I just go with it. Oftentimes, I seem to just "go with it." For example, during last year's InStep class (I got to teach an outdoor education class which included hiking, camping and a trip to Costa Rica with my partner Chris Brown for the entire spring quarter-highlight of my teaching career), we just happened, one day, to arrive at a (300 ft...5,000 ft - which was it, Chris?) cliff in Granite Falls, and, as usual, I just went with it - or, over it. Chris really didn't talk much about the details (I guess he doesn't feel that "We're going over a 5,000 ft. cliff tomorrow" is such an important thing to know as we practice down a wee little slope in West Seattle). My elbow had a battle with the cliff that day and it didn't completely lose...but I still have a scar from it. It's one of those experiences that, after having done it, I could just cross off the list, show my scar every once in a while, and tell people, casually, about "rapelling." Like jumping out of an airplane. Glad I got to experience it, but don't need to do it again.
So when we begin this canyoning adventure and I look at a waterfall and see that our two very competent, relaxed guides, Ro and Thanh, are preparing the ropes for us to rappel over it, I say, "Is that what we're doing? We're going right over it? IN the waterfall?" or "We are dropping into THAT?" --each time my question is met with a casual nod. Yes, we are going over the waterfalls and dropping into that. Here is the description of the advanced route (yes, K booked the advanced route) (which, by the way, I did not have a chance to read prior to going).
ADVANCED ROUTE - 5 Rappels
The advanced route is for those in moderately good physical condition, looking for a more extreme challenge. This route follows the moderate route through the first rappel and skips over the second rappel to the third rappel before the water slides and lunch. After lunch the rappels are more technical and are wet drops as opposed to dry. This means you are in the waterfall as opposed to next to it. The last and most difficult rappel is affectionately known as The Washing Machine.
So, yes, we are IN the waterfalls. See the picture at the top, meant to catch your attention? That is not me; that's K. For you Insteppers reading this, you will "get" this better than anyone: that was a dragon I did not need to slay. I see two others get their faces battered and noses full of rushing water, so I casually walk down the cliff to take pictures of everyone else getting their faces battered and noses full of water. I do, however, do the "Washing Machine" (I don't have any pictures of that, unfortunately.) We drop down a waterfall into a whirlpool and are sucked under, then spit out again. I don't enjoy it. I don't like water up my nose, and I don't like the feeling that I am drowning, because, when you are under the water, you are sure you didn't do something right and that you are never coming up again...My favorite parts of our "canyoning" day: the scenery, the hiking, the moments we float on our backs down the river, and the natural waterslides (pictured here). The calm moments. Those are my moments. The rest of the time, I am just going with it, or over it.
The five of us enter their hut and sit on wooden benches that are no more than three inches off the ground. Rot introduces us to the family (eight to ten live in these tiny homes) and explains the differences between the K'ha and the Vietnamese: