countin' the days

Saturday, May 26, 2007

On the Rocks

It's rock climbing mania around here. Thailand is one of the world's top destinations for climbing, and at all times of the year is filled with all kinds of climbers making their way up the enormous limstone karsts all around. I had a rough few days on the rock the first week, feeling like there was no way in hell I could make it up these crazy routes, let alone make it up safely. But fortunately, I am getting over my fears, and each new day brings some more clarity and confidence on the rock.

Our quaint little foursome -- me, Joe, Charley, and Tot -- started hopping onto the limestone crags instantly, and haven't stopped since... although, sadly, Tatiana had to leave us for the pains of real life back in Sacto. We miss you Tot... and good luck with the LSATs!

One of our first rock adventures was to go deep water soloing -- which means climbing by yourself, with no bolts or ropes, up some rock, and eventually jumping (or falling) into the deep turquoise waters below. A group of 8 of us got together, hired a longtail boat, and went around to nearby islands looking for rock to climb up all day long. I was not nearly skilled or confident enough to attempt most of the rock, but had a great time cheering on all my new and old friends as they attempted some gnarly moves and fancy backflips off the rock. The day ended with beers in the water and a ridiculously delicious Thai feast together.

Now, most of my days consist of waking up, taking an easy morning, and climbing in the afternoon. And eating plenty of scrumptious Thai dishes in between, of course. I'm trying to learn some moves and inherit some wisdom from my climbing partners, both of whom are experienced and skilled climbers. I can't make it over any crazy underclingy overhangy things yet, but I did manage my first 6a yesterday!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Out of Africa

Last week the inevitable finally arrived: I left Africa. The end of my 3 month jaunt in South Africa was over, a day before my tourist visa was due to expire, and the flight I'd pushed ahead 6 weeks was suddenly in my face. It was a bittersweet experience, taking off from South Africa... I'd spent 4 months visiting 4 African countries, each one spectacularly different from the other. It was also the day that marked the 5th month of my trip, hopping around the world and living out of my 3000 cubic inch pack. But the plane was headed for Thailand (via a 4 hour layover in Qatar, my first real glimpse of the Middle East), one of my favorite corners of the Earth, and in Thailand, awaiting our arrival, were Charley and Tatiana, good friends of ours from Cali.

We pushed through a 26 hour train ride, three flights, two layovers, taxi and longtail boat rides, and made it from Cape Town to Railay Beach in Krabi in 3 days.
What a trip. The rock climbing began in a big way the instant we arrived and is continuing to rock (haha) my world today even. In fact, I gotta get off this expensive computer and get ready to climb the limestone outside...

So here am I, 15 months later, back in Thai Thai. I said I'd be back. And now I remember why it was so hard to leave.