Part two ***click here to find out how we got to this place- part one***
4:30/ 5 o’clock in the morning ish
It’s bright out. Or well it’s no longer dark. Everyone is still asleep around me, except for the guys that are already prepping our breakfast. Rubbing my eyes to see if I’m really seeing what I’m seeing – I slowly wake up. We are entirely surrounded by a sea of clouds. Better yet, we are above the clouds!!! This scene is so peaceful and whoa, breathtakingly gorgeous. I try to take out my camera as quietly as possible. Didn’t work. Soof is awake now too and I hear some stumbling above in the tree hut. Lauren joins me and silently we take pictures of the beautiful scenery. A bit later we all watch the sunrise chilling in our sleeping bags on the patio. What a way to wake up. I mean really!
Quiet time is over when the American jungle crew arrives at the big treehouse and tell us the tale of the spider. Apparently he was the size of someone’s hand. Turns out Dave was the one screaming like a little girl. “You ducked behind me for cover!” tough Megan looks at Dave astonished with a twinkle in her eye. Funny! Unsurprisingly, Chris was the one who saved the day, or well…night. He had slayed the spider with a crowbar, that happened to be there. Taking a bite of my rice and veggies, which is difficult enough to swallow early in the morning, I listen to Chris’s very vivid story. “He wouldn’t die! Even after I cut off his head, he kept on crawling.” Take another bite Mo “He was just oozing.” Chris continues. Absolutely delicious! … It was too late. My imagination had taken over- appetite was gone. Thank god the girls and I brought cake.
That evening, as we sit by the fire around a sturdy wooden table at the campsite, not so tough Meghan (with an ‘H’) suggests we all share our high’s and low’s of the day. L-o-v-e it! Quietly, I let the day play out in my head, like a slide show, to pick one of my favorite moments. So hard to do though, this entire day was just filled with Mo type of fun. Finding mushrooms with Mr. Bike to eat for lunch, staying behind taking pictures and running through the jungle catching up in my perfect Mr. Bike shoes. Just cause I could. Is it this moment, sitting here right now drinking tea from these handmade cups out of bamboo?
Or was it shooting the gun, which was freaking loud, and laughing so hard at the slomo video Philo shot of me mouthing words little kids should not see? Or the moment where Soof treated the ‘Tarzan swing’ effortlessly like a graceful Jane, and where seconds later David broke the entire thing, resulting in him falling flat on the ground? Was funny too (He didn’t get hurt!).
Or was it that moment when the refreshing water of the intensely clear stream was flowing down my face washing away the dirt and heat after hiking in the sun for so long? Felt soooo good! Hearing Philo and Dave tell the horrific, yet intriguing story of Mr. Bike acting like Wolverine using his Machete to slice the throat of a muskrat is not in the top ten, but it was a new experience that’s for sure.
Gosh so hard to choose…I loved walking downhill today with my special edition bamboo walking stick made by the one and only…Mr. Bike! Laughed really hard too when he found the Jackfruit and ate it so fast he kept spitting out the seeds as if he was firing at someone. Hilarious. Another special moment was when David shared his story with me. We were just walking down the jungle over paths that were hard to distinguish, jumping from rock to rock in a stream here, gorgeous big leaves there, the sun shimmering through from time to time. He stood there in peaceful silence while I took my time to take pictures. “I understand” he said. “I love photography too”. We were a bit far behind from the group, but neither of us seemed bothered by that. We kept talking about how we learn and have learned so much throughout our travels, until Mr. Bike or Joe came back to help us up a rather high hill that would’ve been hard to climb on our own. An eventful day to say the least!
Everyone picks some excellent highs, the lows I believe involved falling a lot? “ I’m going to have to go with my amazing Mr. Bike shoes” I say. Everyone nods in agreement “It’s crazy! You didn’t even fall once did you?” “Nope, I even ran through the jungle a couple of times with Mr. Diaper on my tail.” One of the Burmese guys, correction Men…with a capital ‘M’. These men, guiding us, were walking through the jungle with an ease that is so impressive. Especially, since they were carrying all of our food, the pots & pans and our sleeping bags and hammocks! This guy got the nickname Mr. Diaper ’cause he had his pants folded in such a way, it looked like he was constantly wearing a diaper. Wish I would’ve used a wider angle for this shot….
“ I have a party favor” Soof says excitedly and pulls out her iPhone. First she has an odd trick which lands her the name Miss Nostrils. (She can make music come out of her mouth like a loudspeaker, through her nostrils – no joke!) Next, she puts her skills to better use and places a big empty bottle over her phone. The entire space around us lights up like magic. Enough to play some cards. Butttt we all wanna play….so nobody plays it is! Haha. We end up giving each other Mr. and Mrs. names mostly based on things that happened during our trip. I gracefully accept the name “Mistress Bike”. Philo noticed at a certain point that Mr. Bike would say ‘Moni’ quite a bit and that he would offer me things first. Every time I got special treatment she would look at me and have this smirk on her face. It was funny! I still am pretty sure it’s ’cause my name was easy for him to remember, but hey, I wasn’t complaining ; )
After chatting a while by the bonfire, we go down to the stream before settling into our open air hammocks. I’m so very excited!!! I love camping and enjoy sleeping in hammocks. Let alone an open air one. That night the sky is pretty clear...I think…Can’t really see through the leaves of the trees covering our beds. I snuggle up into the sleeping bag and swing myself to sleep while staring at the flames from the bonfire that are slowly dying down. Before I allow myself to fully dose off, I see Soof and Mr. Slayer coming back from their nightly swim. Pfiew, am glad she’s back safe and sound….
2 or 3 a.m.
It starts off slowly. I’m in ignore mode. It’ll pass, it’ll pass. The drops softly caress my hands. They are surprisingly warm, even though night has fallen. After about five minutes it’s hard to ignore the increase in speed and the amount of drops. I close the hammock entirely and cover my face, leaving only a tiny gap to breathe through, still hoping it’ll pass. I feel like a bat hanging sideways. Lovely! I hear rummaging. The guys under the other trees seem to be packing up their hammocks and running for cover. “ Are you guys staying???” Ms. Baby Bike (not so tough Meghan) yells over the sound of the rain, which has now become actual rainfall. “ I’m staying!” I yell back at her. I can’t hear tough Megan and the Germans sound as if they’re leaving. I take a quick peek and see Meghan taking off. The Germans are already long gone. I really really want to sleep here tonight. It might still pass. If this hammock can hold the rainfall just a bit longer….
Even though positive thinking gets me far most of the time, this situation is just out of my hands. When I feel my bottoms getting wet from a stream of water that sneakily entered through the hammock, I have to admit defeat. Quickly I pack up, and join the rest. Almost everyone is here, looking for cover underneath the relatively small blue canvas. There is not enough space for all of us to lie down, so I decide to sit sideways and fold over my backpack, making it a pillow. It’s hard to determine when Mr. Slayer finally joins the group. The last man standing. He brought his own hammock. Surprise, surprise…it turns out to be waterproof. Haha. This guy is a true ranger, I’ll tell you that!
Day three. Our final day.
Once again, I wake up early. Have I even slept these past few hours? I try to be as quiet as possible, grabbing my camera, and head to the river. Gosh this is beautiful! I’m so grateful I woke up this early. Leslie’s wise words “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” pop up in my head. She is one my good friends from the States, and she couldn’t be more right. It’s the perfect time of day to take pictures, with the morning dew hovering over the river. In a few hours from now, we will be tubing down this exact same river back to Hsipaw. I think to myself, staring at all the beauty that surrounds me, feeling so incredibly lucky that I get to experience all of this. Back at camp, the others are slowly rising, straightening out their backs, that got stiff from the hard wooden floor. Fortunately, I have just the remedy : ) Lauren did a yoga teachers training not too long ago in either India or Nepal. The day before I asked her if she would be willing to practice on us. Lucky for us, she responded positively. So there we were. Doing yoga. Out in the open. Close to the spot, which last night we called ‘the toilet.’ Even the boys joined. Way to go team!
That afternoon my pale skin gets a nice crispy bright red color, my legs a few bruises and scratches from the rocks that slid underneath me. And then it’s over…. Standing there, handing over our tubes, it hits me. Soon I’ll have to leave this amazing country with its super kind people and gorgeous views. In an instant, I flash back to yesterday afternoon; capturing the semi disgusted, yet fascinated faces of the guys, while watching our nameless muskrat being skinned. “ This trek is exactly what I imagine a trip with ‘Unknown Epic’ will be like.” I laugh. “They promise that every trip will be a surprise (unknown) and that of course it will be epic!” And that’s what this trek feels like to me. Unknown. Epic! Dave laughs and replies excitedly “That’s exactly what it is! A perfect summation. Unknown and Epic!”
So thank you Mr. Bike and thank you perfect Mr. Bike shoes. It’s been a pleasure! Now when is the wedding? …with the shoes of course ; )
Click here if you also want to go your own unknown epic trek with Mr. Bike in the jungle close to Hsipaw. Just drop him a message an off you go for a fun adventure.
Want to escape for a while and experience nature a bit closer to home? Click here to get in touch with the boys from Unknown Epic.