This morning I thought it was about time to get my camera out and sort out the 1,300 photos I snapped over the past 4 – 5 months. Turning on my camera I noticed the number had dropped to 645 files and with immediate effect my heart sank. I went through all of my memory cards, hard drives and drop boxes and the I couldn’t find any of the lost data. As I don’t have GoPro Plus they aren’t backed up online so it means I either dwell on it and let it get me down or I can choose to be thankful. Thankful for the fact that I done the trip, thankful that I still have 645 out of 1,300. Thankful for being able to express myself to my friends and family or this electronic device I sit here typing on. I’ve had a great breakfast this morning, the weather is hopefully on the rise and we have house plans of a cheeky beverage or two this evening.
Its a subtle reminder pushing me to stay ever present, to keep my mind open and acceptant to new ideas. I’m looking at my photos wishing there were more, wondering how they disappeared but what I really should be doing is using my brain, use my brain to take me back to Phong Nha, National Park in central Vietnam, a day where we lived like it was our last. Myself and Kiera, who was a weirdly awesome Canadian girl who I had met and was driving up North with was sat in Bamboo Cafe. It was around lunchtime, middle of November and the rainfall was still beating down. It hadn’t stopped all night and by this time the roads were starting to flood. Realizing that, we had to make a move immediately or risk missing out on seeing some of the most renowned caves around the world, reaching sizes that can fit the city of Manhattan in. Just as we went to set off a guy at the bar announced that any plans that were made would have to be forgotten about, and unless you wanted to get stuck in Phong Nha for the next three – four days you best make a move! Quickly!
So we made a break for it, well, at least until we got to the road, we may as well swam down that! Straight to the hostel to cancel the room we had booked, grabbed our bags and jumped on the bikes. Its not the greatest idea to drive through a flash flood to an unknown destination, but we knew the direction and that was North. We braced up for what was going to be a wet and miserable day and as the events unfolded the excitement kicked in. I was running with my bike pushing it through the water trying to get it started, eventually starting I needed to keep the engine revved to avoid flooding. The adrenaline was kicking and the raindrops were punching. The whole village moved their tractors, trucks and bikes up to the main road to avoid loosing the machines which keeps the dinner on the table. What seemed like a big deal to us was a small glimpse into the everyday life of this community. As we made our way through the smaller villages we witnessed the devastating effects the floods have on the farms, we crossed a bridge and standing there watching the water take over the land was groups of locals, they weren’t frantic, but at the same time they obviously weren’t over the moon. It was a strange feeling, to me this was new and overwhelming but to them it was simply the price they pay to live a self sustained life and for the best part of the year the weathers good.
Jurrasic Parkesque is the best way to describe what we was driving through. The dark clouds looming around the splits of the limestone caves creating a claustrophobic, bubble of ecosystem. The scenes that were created naturally that day shit all over any CGI I have seen. The water was pouring down the crevices, across the roads making some routes very difficult and unbalanced at times! It wasn’t long before we stumbled across a road that was completely underwater, there were men and kids with Jeeps waiting for people like us to hit this hiccup, and to our rescue after bargaining down to 200,000 VND (about $11 AUD) we loaded the bikes on the back of the Jeep and crossed the stretch of water, which at points came just below the doors of this beaten up rust bucket, but its the inside that counts because she pulled through and shortly after we were back on our bikes cruising North.
Unfortunately, the National Park doesn’t go on forever but that days riding is one I shall never forget, it replays like a movie in my head, with us at the helm of what was truly a daring move turned out to be one of the most thrilling adventures of my life. Settling on a place to sleep was always a good laugh, the choice doesn’t vary much when your backpacking Asia cheaply but try to always find something funny about the room. Once we stayed in a room and the toilet was only separated by a wall and I had just got sick, It was funny when I asked Kiera to leave the room and explained that she didn’t want to listen to what was about to take place.
We eventually found a place to stay in Huong Khe, it had a bed and a roof, what more could you ask for? By this time I had learnt how to ask for rice, vegetables and tofu and was very happy when I managed to get all three. There was a little local place just opposite us so we went for a good feed after what was a well executed get away, a day spent entirely focused on the surroundings and trusting one another, stepping further into the unknown and coming out the other side in one piece. Learning that some of the best lived moments are ones that just happen, ones that aren’t planned.
Previously I mentioned about the photos I lost this morning, well within the day of me writing this blog and reliving those moments, taking myself back through that journey. Thinking of the great laughs, thousands of kilometers driven and the bottles of rum that got drunk I couldn’t give a shit anymore. The memories are up there, they replay to me and connect to me better than any photo, they make my heart rate increase when thinking about certain moments, certain people and for me, that’s the bigger picture.
Thankfully I downloaded some onto my iPad, and Thank you for taking your time to read my thoughts.