31st August - The waterfall adventure!
Had booked up 2 trips for today. The morning boat trip was to some boring caves which had become temples filled with buddahs and concrete steps. The highlight was stopping at a small village on the way back where they make Lao whiskey. After some tasting i took a small 1 dollar bottle of the stuff that doesn't make you blind. The trip was due back at 12.30 but got back at 13.20, giving me just 10 minutes to find a street vendor for noodle soup which i scoffed down as quick as possible and a small portion of sticky rice wrapped up in a banana tree leaf to take away.
The afternoon bus journey was to a big waterfall, i took some photos from the bottom but there were steps to the top which i started to climb. People coming down said that the views were great and you could swim up there. I got to the top, where the path ran out and got to the edge of the big waterfall but couldn't see where the views were from or where to swim, so i tried to go around the fast flowing water through patches of mud, smaller streams and jungle, after a while i realised i was getting nowhere and a lot of the streams were too deep or fast and the mud too boggy so i decided to go back. I walked in so many directions that i got lost and the fast streams and mud kept stopping me from going where i wanted to. The straps of one of my shoes broke and i lost it in the mud. I tried to follow the flow of the water but i would get cut off and so many streams seamed to be flowing in different directions. I would listen for the waterfall but kept getting to smaller ones. I was starting to worry, i found a pomelo tree and picked one just in case i was stuck here for a while, i started calling out but nobody could hear me over the roar of the water. My minibus was due to leave at 16.00 and i wondered wether they would just go or tell someone. I wondered how long, if at all, it would take to send someone to find me. I started thinking about how to survive a night in the jungle. I know all of this must sound really melodramatic, but i was trying to think clearly whilst being scared out of my wits, and i felt like i was getting weaker with every step. I felt homesick. Eventually i got back to the edge of the waterfall and down the hill wearing my one shoe. I was 30 minutes late and the minibus was still waiting. I pulled off the leach that was feasting from my foot and went back to my hotel for a shower, where i found blood on my bollock, the cause of which was a hole a leach had left on the adjacent inner thigh. I went out for a drink in the evening and it felt like nothing had happened. I went to bed at 22.00 and went straight to sleep, at about midnight there was a knock at the door, Tom and Eimer had come to say goodbye as they were leaving the next day, they're a nice couple and i hope i bump into Tom in Oz.