If there is anything that will bring a group together, it's a giant slumber party in a barn and some tents in the middle of the Vietnamese jungle. We rolled out our mats and sleeping bags, bundled into our sleeping sacks, lowered our mosquito nets, and drifted away to the sounds of rather baritone snoring. The responsible party shall remain nameless.
Just as the roosters began to crow (the actually began at 3am despite it still being pitch black) we awoke to find that the rain had subsided, having washed the foggy mist away. The views were just stunning. Still, there was no time for dilly-dallying and we slurped down our noodles, refilled our water bladders, pulled on our dirty pants, laced up our muddy boots, and hit the road. At this stage Bianca got rather overexcited about a can of red bull, which she quickly skulled before proceeding to literally tremor with energy.
If I was to think up a theme for today it would be teamwork. The trail was tough and at times even treacherous. There was something to play on the fears of everyone: Teetering bridges for those scared of heights, wandering Buffalo for those scared of animals, and LOTS of slippery clay for those scared of getting dirty. Still, we stuck together and were joined by an army of Hmong village ladies without whom some of us would not have made it through.
Us all geared up in boots and packs with poles and prowess, them quite basic with plastic sandals and wicker baskets, we were certainly the odd couple. While we slid, slipped, and at times skied down the mountain their delicate footsteps and lifelong experience made it look like a leisurely stroll through the CBD.
Today we fought cold, rain, the flu, and some serious gastro. Once again we dined on fresh baguette, tomato, and ham for lunch, which we had perched high above the terraced rice fields. Krista almost stopped the trek then and there when I nearly slid down the mountain then actually stopped when she ran smack into a tree after picking up some serious downhill speed. Kerri and Lai overcame their fear of heights and did an incredible job navigating some pretty hairy bamboo bridges while Alexis made her usual attempts at being loved. Once more this plan was foiled when, at lunch, she slid right down a rock face directly into Sue. This was only the beginning for Sue. She first went bottoms up on her own, was followed by Alexis' oopsy-daisy and got finished off with a wet wipe to the face courtesy of Dani. Now that's teamwork!
We arrive in the afternoon to find a sparkling clean guesthouse waiting for us. I am now writing from one of the beds as the group plays celebrity heads just 20 feet away. At dinner we once again passed the bracelets (each day 4 people are recognized for being awesome and the following day, they pass them on to four new awesome people). It should be noted that I also awarded Sue today's "Miss Saigon" statue for surviving what appeared to have been a coordinated attack by some who were jealous of her natural amazingness (mainly Alexis). Off to bed. Another big day of trekking tomorrow!