Travel in true Vietnamese style in this exhausting bike journey in the sweltering 40-degree heat. Hold your nerve as you navigate past puddles and potholes and swerve to avoid mopeds and minivans at a pace that is anything but leisurely.
Experience the thrill of the battle for survival as you scale 30m waterfalls, jump blindly over a cliff edge without checking what lies beneath you, and allow random strangers to push you down river rapids.
The choice is yours…
“Oh my God they both sound so much fun!” squealed Becky in excitement, “How are we going to pick?”
See that’s the difference between Becky and me. She is an adventure-seeking lunatic who deserves a gold star in bravery. She sees a challenge like this and actually gets excited…actually looks forward to it! Me on the other hand, I would rather gauge my own eyeballs out. I see something like this and it’s all I can do not to throw up in fear. Especially since I knew the possibly more manageable bike ride had already been dismissed. “Battle for Survival” had Becky written all over it.
“Well…if we do the bike ride…we’ll end up in the place we want to get to next anyway…” I tried.
“Yea I guess…but the waterfall thing just sounds so cool!”
And so it was that I came to be nervously peering over the edge of a 30m high waterfall, trying hard to keep down my Philadelphia baguette. I looked on in dismay as a 6 ft tall man with broad shoulders trembled in fear. Suddenly, his foot slipped, and the gushing water dragged him under and down the drop at an alarming speed. He plunged into the freezing pool below. I had to look up again. I was too afraid the guy would not resurface.
A second man was now all strapped up and ready to go. Perhaps he would fare slightly better than Mr Footslip. Or not. The second man was even taller and broader than the first. He carefully lowered himself over the edge of the fall…and then proceeded to fall…quite spectacularly. I don’t think tumbling down and bashing into all those rocks was really part of his plan.
A third man now stepped up to the mark. Ok, so he wasn’t quite as tall and broad as the others, but at a guess I’d say he was at least double my height and likely to have weighed three times as much as me. He looked like he’d been warned of his imminent death; his legs literally refused to walk him over the edge of the crashing waterfall.
“JUST GO!” The guide screamed angrily at him.
“I CANT MOVE!! THERES NOWHERE FOR MY FEET TO FUCKING GO!” screamed the young man with even more venom, “ITS TOO FUCKING SLIPPY”
“You will be ok!” The guide laughed merrily.
The man slowly tiptoed down the fall. Very carefully, baby step by baby step, he edged his way over. But then…just as he predicted…he began to slip. Further and faster than either of the others. He twisted around; he bumped the rocks, he screamed out in pain, then finally plummeted into the freezing river below.
Now I was truly terrified.
“Becky…I’m not doing it!” I cried
“It will be fine!” she assured me.
Had she not just witnessed the same scene as me? Maybe the girl was actually suicidal and I’d failed to pick up on it until now.
“If they had so much bloody trouble with it imagine what I’m gunna be like!” I wailed
“You will regret it so much if you don’t do it” she insisted.
Our guide Bamboo looked over and smiled at us: “Who’s going first?”
I immediately pointed at Becky. I still hadn’t decided if I was going to do it or not. Brave as ever, my mental friend stepped up and adjusted her ropes and clips. Still smiling, she confidently lowered herself down the fall, battled against the gushing water, and NEVER SLIPPED ONCE! Five minutes later she was stood at the bottom, waving up at me with a huge grin on her face. How the hell had she made it look so easy? Maybe this was something girls were naturally better at than guys. Maybe I had a fair chance at making it down without the bumps.
“Your turn” Bamboo reminded me gently.
Shit. I’m sure all the colour must have drained from my face at this point. Shaking like a bowl of jelly I made my way to the horrific drop and clipped myself onto the safety rope. It looked like I had decided to go through with it. Then it struck me how much I really needed the toilet. I felt like I was going to pee my pants I was that scared! Maybe I would pee myself. I didn’t even care at this point. I just wanted to make it down the drop alive!
“Ok you can go now,” said Bamboo
It was now or never. I closed my eyes and held on tightly to the rope before I began to lower myself down the tumbling water. I wasn’t slipping! I was still in control! Maybe I COULD do it!
But no. I couldn’t. With about as much style as a hippopotamus on ice skates I flipped up and bashed my bum straight into the slippery rock. My arms couldn’t hold me up and I began to slip down the rope, my poor bum bumping along with me the whole way. Being at this awkward angle meant that I was also trying desperately to avoid drowning. The thundering water pounded against my face. I held my breath, closed my eyes and allowed myself to slip until the water calmed down and I could finally find a foot hole somewhere. After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to the bottom and plunged into the icy-cold pool of rushing water.
“You made it!” cried Becky, evidently as surprised as I was.
“That was horrible!” I shouted, “Don’t ever make me do that again!”
“At least you can say you’ve climbed down a waterfall now” she pointed out cheerfully.
“Well…I can only really say I’ve slipped down a waterfall!” I reminded her, “And I think I’ve broken a bone in my bum! I can’t even stand up!”