countin' the days

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Go Deep

Most of my days during my 3 weeks in Ton Sai went something like this:
- Wake up when it gets too unbearably hot to sleep any longer (usually about 9am, a good 2 to 3 hours after the power got shut off).
- Have breakfast of delicious banana pancakes at Green Valley Resort while swatting away mozzies.
Get climbing gear together, refill the water bottles, scope out a morning route.
- Break for lunch and the way-too-intense-for-climbing mid-day heat. Generally this meant eating phenomenally delicious pad thai at Kruie Thai restaurant right on the beach for 70 Baht ($2).
- Spend the afternoon lounging on the beach, in the shade, perhaps quickly jumping on the slackline.
- Choose a new wall, and climb until it gets dark.
- Have beer at sunset.
- Return to bungalow of questionable integrity, take a cold (only option) shower to get rid of a phenomenal amount of grime, and head out for grub Thai dinner.
- Depending on the cash flow situation and plans for tomorrow, either go out for beers or chill and go to bed earlyish.
- Wake and repeat.

While most days more or less followed this tremendously enjoyable schedule, we diverted from the itinerary a few times. Unquestionable, one of the biggest highlights among these diversions was going Deep Water Soloing (DWS). DWS is where you hire a longtail boat for the day, and spend the day going out to funky-shaped islands, climbing the rock, and when finished, jumping directly into the water. Deep Water = a safe depth in which to jump off the rock into the warm turquoise Andaman Sea. Soloing = climbing, with only shoes on and nothing else, no ropes, no protection, following whatever lines you find suitable.

We had the good fortune to round up a fantastic group of hyper-enthusiastic North Americans, stoked on climbing & socializing & ready to make the absolute most of the day. Everyone climbed their hearts out all day long, while the rest of the crew not on the rock watched from the boat, cheering like a bunch of drunken high school kids in the 4th quarter of a tied game where the home team's about to push on to the championships.

Naturally, climbing wasn't the ONLY thing on the menu; there was plenty of drinking involved. We brought a nice stash of beers & flasks of Sangsom (Thai "whiskey"), and then took a break on the aptly-named Beer Island to suck down some cans of Chang and grub on some overpriced but still delicious food.

Inevitably, the climbing -- for the competitive & slightly intoxicated boys on the boat -- became a (how shall I say?) kind of "stick"-measuring competition for attainable height. A certain stalagtite, hanging a good 60 feet above the water, was selected as the goal, with each dude climbing higher and higher. "Well, I touched it, you touch it with TWO hands!" "OK, I touched it with TWO hands, you have to jump ONTO it!" Eventually, the stalagtite was not just touched but climbed onto and even higher up!! Seth, the grand champion, ended up about 90 feet off the water and jumped all the way down. Unfrickinreal.

It was a superb day. And timed just a few days before we sadly had to depart, it was a tasty icing to spread over the top of the delightful little cake that was our 3 weeks in Ton Sai.

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