Now in Laos Day 201: No Matter the Karst, I Will Climb It

Nothing like a lame pun to begin a post. If you weren’t able to put two and two together, Vang Vieng is also famous for its limestone karst rock scenery besides the drunken lazy river frequented by many thirsty backpackers. Instead of being drunk as a bum on a river getting pulled over to the riverside bars that promise cheap filthy liquor, I took this day as an opportunity to get up close to the rock and climb it with a full day rock climbing experience. Having not treated myself to much of anything lately (along with staying well below the daily average of my budget), I decided for one rare moment in time to spend a few extra dollars, do myself a solid, and experience this growing passion of mine. With only one other climber with me along with our guide, I would have plenty of time on the rock face. I squeezed my toes into the rock climbing shoes, shoes so tight my arches were cramped like a ballerina’s, before I could take my first approach onto the grey, craggily karst rock. Limestone rock is a rock climber’s dream terrain. So many foot and hand holds are scattered throughout as if they were designed for a gym yet empty faces and spaces meant for a couple of spare fingers or a tightly bound toe test your limits to hang on. For being out of shape, I held my own. Probably a bit too optimistically I felt like a rock bound Tarzan hurtling myself upwards. I even got to learn how to properly bilay (probably spelled incorrectly but it is the process of preventing a fall as well as to lower a climber from his or her climb). Not until someone falls do you realize how much you have at stake within your own grasp. Bilaying is a necessary skill to learn clearly if I hope to do some independent rock climbing in the future. A lunch break was necessary to regain whatever strength I could and to relax the mind while resting along as tubes and kayaks floated by. Back on the rock, I found some stretches that seemed damn near impossible with grips that barely qualified for my skills. On one climb that had its fair share of stalactites hanging, I had to climb this rounded out bulging piece of narrow rock like a tree trunk while my feet scraped at whatever they could hold firm to. A series of falls and letdowns finally broke through at long last to allow me to reach the top when it once felt so out of reach and damn was it an exhilarating feeling after thoroughly cursing and damning the rock for not sparing you an extra foothold. After enough climbs and upon reaching a section that I couldn’t begin to struggle with, I was done with limbs in need of a rest. I don’t know why I never bothered to rock climb more before and especially look for it outside the gym. As a first for everything, I will most definitely continue to work my way up as another physical challenge and battle with myself to constantly try to better myself. My own pair of rock climbing shoes in the near future stands a strong possibility. Life is meant to continue trying and experiencing new things because who could ever stand a life that revolves around the same old time worn routine. Routines are fantastic; hell I miss one right now but that isn’t to say I will stay satisfied with a habit devoid of new challenges. Back in the city I got myself another plate of stir-fried vegetables and a mango shake because I have to make the most of the rare moments and then attempted to take a nap despite the doldrums of the usual, repetitive, and nauseating beats of Asian music booming nearby. The evening was nothing of note that turned into an early return to my toolshed room to sleep.

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