'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Ready? Get Set.. GO! - Acclimatisation Trek - Day 14-16

Day 1 –

We thought that the tour around Angkor Wat was getting us prepared for a similar experience on the acclimatisation, however we soon found out the even the great temple was in no way a match for what we were about to encounter.

On Wednesday (7/12/11) morning I/ we woke up at 5:30. After dividing our bags into our main (trekking pack) and the unwanted (non essentials) (Ed. apart from you Amreeta, who brought the kitchen sink!), the group walked over to Rik’s cafe to meet him at 6:30. Breakfast was pre-ordered, which made things more efficient. After receiving and [finally (:P)] dividing up the food, we got on a minibus and headed into the jungle! I think in some way, everyone was pumped for what we had in store.

After arriving at our desperately, daring, daughting, designated destination, we got our packs out, got sun-protected and hopped into a boat. 10 people went in one boat, and 6 went in the other. It was quite an interesting, slow and slightly uncomfortable boat trip to get to a village. The boat with 10 people on it, was sunbanked twice, and the people inside it where dropped off, without a worn at a isolated place. Only for the boat to return and take them to the 5 D’s above. Upon arrival, we got our packs on and trekked for an hour. At this stage, we were introduced to Vuta. He was an English speaking guide, who definitely knew the jungle. Then there was Doy. He didn’t speak English, but for a 62 year old, he was mighty fit and fought against the Khmer Rouge! And lastly there was Red. He was a porter, and he also looked after the back of the line. (Making sure Jane and Gary didn’t die) Jane found Red’s eyelashes rather appealing.

For lunch we had rice with slices of egg and pork. YUM! (Sarcasm BTW)

Following lunch, we trekked for another 2 hours. It was quite clear that the ‘trek-experience’ was beginning to get on the nerve of many, as a lot of people were forced out of their comfort zone. No more so than Gary, who upon arrival at the campsite, metamorphosed into a beach walrus. (See photo above lol)

There was a huge sigh of relief when we got to our campsite, but for many, that relief became stressful as it began pouring and pouring with heavy rain, after being promised that it would not rain, (Ed. I recall no such honest I dont lol) as our hammocks (which we had just finished putting up) were not water proof. We were wet, cold and prone to falling on the slippery rocks. The rain ended up getting into our hammocks and blowing out our fire, plus getting into our tarp which was put over our bags. But quite a few people had a wash/ swim in the stream whilst it was raining, and from what I heard, it was quite a surreal moment.
(Ed. Above you can see the tiny leech that lodged itself high up on Xavier's inner thigh....He is now well on his way to ticking off the 5 things he wanted from this expeditipon :-))

For dinner we had stir fried vegetables (with beef for most) and rice. Everyone was looking forward to their 10 hour sleep. From observation, the realisation of the physically challenging part of the trip was beginning to sink in for everybody. For many, it was easy to mistake the glass as being half empty, as opposed to it being half full. Though many of us could appreciate the magic of swinging in a hammock in the middle of the Cambodia Jungle, with the moon hovering above, peaking through the Tree canopy. (Ed.  A  bit of an eye opener I think today....My message to all the Challenegers "Strength of mind, strength of body")

Day 2 –

This morning I woke up after quite a pleasant night’s sleep, however, I can’t say the same about everyone else. The breakfast group (Sarah, Michaela and I) made noodles in the morning. Packing up in the morning made me, and others, realise that there’s a lot less that can be classified as the ‘bare essentials’ than originally thought. For lunch we had baguettes with the options of having tin mackerel and chilli sauce. Dinner consisted of rice with vegetables and egg with some soy and chilli sauce, cooked by Vuta, who was an awesome chef.

I personally found today’s trekking to be OK. I noticed that being towards the front, more than the back, was actually a really good spot to be at, and Michaela was really helpful as well. (Ed. Its good when we work together and 'act' as a team :-))

As you can see from Sarah's face above trekking in the Jungle can be fairly strenuous while at the same time being spectacular. (Ed. Sarah loves this photograph and really wanted her Mum to see it :-) hahahahahahaha)

We trekked for roughly 2 ½ hours, had lunch and trekked another hour. We then arrived at our outpost. However, to get to the outpost, we had to use a raft made from bamboo to cross the river. Whilst getting on, my raft group was Nathan, Patrick, Michaela and Zac. But when Nathan got on the raft we capsized. So in replacement of Nathan, Kate took his place. It was a pretty fun moment in the day, we didn’t even know where we were going though!

We then realised that the outpost was in fact our campsite, we were all pretty thrilled about that.

After getting settled in, we (in gender based turns) had baths in the river. The current was pretty strong, making it hard to have a normal bath. Getting dried, changed and going to the toilet seemed awkward at first, but seemed to grow on us as the usual very quickly. Mealtimes, in particular dinner, deemed to be a really nice socialising time. From what I’ve heard, everyone is appreciating home, mostly the people, not the materialistic things, A LOT!

Day 3 –

Today is day 16 of our trip! We’re already half way?!?! I reckon everyone found that really hard to believe.

Bruises, soreness and perseverance were the norm by now ("Strength of mind, strength of body"), but today was quite an easy day for all of us.

As part of the breakfast group (Sarah, Michaela and I) woke up around 6:30  (Ed.  you forgot to mention you were actually late for your duties Amreeta lol). For breakfast we made scrambled eggs with onions on baguettes. After getting everything packed, everyone, apart from 2, put their bags on a boat, which was sent to the village we first arrived in. We trekked for 1-2 hours to the river, on fairly flat land AND we didn’t have to carry our bags. We then took turns (in groups of roughly 5) to get across the river to the village. We soon found out that the village people were quite open and shameless in comparison to what we’ve been used to.

Vuta took us on a tour of the village, he showed us the school and the rice fields, along with whatever was on the way, as well as answering all questions. He also gave us a quick Khmer lesson.

After the tour, we waited outside of Doy’s place as he, his family and friends cooked lunch for us. We had noodles with egg and vegetables, it was delicious! From the village, we took our packs down to the river to be packed onto a boat. Following that, we got given a tour of the cemetery and we were fortunate enough to be in the midst of one of their rituals.

The ritual being the following – When someone dies, everyone will celebrate. They celebrate by smoking and excessively drinking rice wine. These celebrations will continue on a monthly basis for one whole year. In the duration of the monthly celebrations, the family of the deceased are seated in/ around a mini shelter/ house. After one year, they will build a much larger and intricate house in dedication of the deceased, which they will never return back to. At the front of the house they have a statue of a man and of a woman. If the deceased is a pregnant woman, then the statue of the woman will be made to look pregnant. They also have elephants tusks placed in/ around/ on the house. This symbolises some of the spiritualising elements. The statues might have things like mobile phones and machetes on them. Once the house is complete, they then dance around the house with music and sacrifice a water buffalo. They begin by slicing one of the legs by getting the tendon, followed by the next 3, until the buffalo can no longer stand and falls. They then slice the throat and feast on it. After all of that, the house is left to rot.

Following the visit to the cemetery, we looped around and went back to the river, got in the boats and headed to the drop-off point. The vehicles were having quite a few difficulties on the way, which cancelled out our plans to go to the lake. From Rik’s place, we walked to our accommodation and bolted straight out to have dinner. We had pizza for dinner, and some followed with crepes.

Amreeta – ‘It was definitely quite an experience and provided us with a great challenge. We’re all missing our family’s, but now we only have two weeks left before we personally get to share our journey with you! Love you and look forward to seeing you soon! Xoxo <3’

Written by Amreeta Buller

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