Tag Archives: hiking

Camping in Vietnam

I finally found the spot and courage to camp on my own in the jungle. The latter was not easy after I had met a cobra on my first hike. I went to the Bach Ma National Park.

I was disappointed by the main path which turned out to be a paved road.

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The only advantage: I could enjoy unobscured view for the entire hike.

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And when the paved road ended 19 kilometers later and 1400 meters higher, I found a hidden treasure along the trail leading to the peak: war tunnels, unaltered and to this day not marketed. It was really cool/creepy to explore them as they were left by the soldiers, while dozens of freaked out bats were flying right next to my face in panic.

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Definitely a highlight of the trip. And not far there was a cool pagoda almost at the peak.

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Next came the five lakes trail, along which I started to look for a camp spot since I wanted plenty of time to experiment with the setup.

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The spot on that shelf would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the widow-maker leaning from the left bank. The search would have been much faster if I wasn’t avoiding blocking the trail. This was probably unnecessary since some parts of it were covered in thick spider webs and I hadn’t seen any other tourists earlier that day.

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Eventually I found a spot to hang my hammock.

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The view from my spot looking upstream…

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and looking downstream:

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I’m happy to say that my new experimental method for keeping distance between mosquito net and the hammock worked great: not a single mosquito bite.

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I hadn’t brought with me any insulation for the hammock, so I got uncomfortably cold as expected, but still managed to get a few hours of sleep. Actually, I’m quite surprised how easy it was too fall asleep despite this new environment and all the jungle noises.

On my way back I continued along the five lakes trail and took a little detour to visit the 300 m high Rhododendron Waterfall.

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And BTW here’s a picture of my ride from Hue to Dong Hoi, titled How to squeeze 22 people into (what would in other countries be) a 10-person minibus:

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Outdoors in Vietnam

In Da Lat I went for a short yet demanding hike. On my way through the rainforest I met a local that I didn’t want to befriend:

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(however, I was more than happy to join some human locals at their bonfire when I was exploring off the trail)

Few days later I ended up in Nha Trang where I got a chance to snorkel for the first time in my life. The coral reef was mind-blowing. Oh, and there were also some amazing temples.

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A bit of Balkans, part 2

The second part of my trip was no less exciting. Other than spending another night with a heavy thunderstorm in an abandoned building, I had some exciting encounters with pickpockets, muggers, scammers and corrupt law enforcement.

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Broken tent in the backcountry

So my friend and I went recently for a hike in the Bieszczady mountains. It didn’t last long as one of the tent poles broke when setting up for the first night. Trying to fix it made it even worse. Luckily I had my tarp with me. Here’s our camp:

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The broken pole was still quite useful: it secured one of the tarp corners in place.

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And it was replaced with a couple strings.

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Worked really well. Despite rainy night we had a good, dry and mosquito-free sleep :-)

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An ultra-short trip in preparation for the Norwegian Adventure

I’m going to Norway on Wednesday. I’m flying to Rygge, near Oslo, and then I guess I will just stick out my thumb and see what happens.

I’ve made some adjustments in my gear for that trip.

I want to hike a bit, especially in the Arctic – I absolutely love high latitude places. In the past when I went hiking, I would always have a place to leave some of my stuff till I get back to civilization. This time I want to carry all my belongings with me, everywhere I go. Which means I really have to minimize everything. No computers, no e-readers, no spare long pants, etc. I also decided to leave my tent – it’s a good hiking tent, but still – too heavy and too big for my needs. Before I got it, I would use my (Canadian Army) heavy-duty poncho to make a shelter but that solution is also far from perfect – the poncho is too heavy, too small when used as a tarp and wouldn’t work well as a rain gear with my backpack.

So I got myself a nice piece of tarp. I was surprised that no outdoor store in Poland would carry such an important piece of equipment. Then I thought about hardware department stores and found it there. I’ve also bought trekking poles – setting up a tarp can be a real nuisance if there are no suitable trees around and that’s when the poles come in really handy. And they should make this next trip much easier on my knees.

Anyway, I went few days ago to the Kampinos National Park to try out my equipment and some new ideas for camp setup.

First some photos:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(sorry for the poor quality, I forgot to turn off the macro mode)

Most importantly, I wanted to check out three things:

  • how my sleeping mat would work with my hammock
  • some new knots for tying the hammock and hanging the tarp
  • how easy it was to use the poles for making a shelter

It all worked pretty well, except for one thing. And this, I feel, is the right moment to introduce you a bit more to the Kampinos Park. If I were to do it with just one sentence, I would use this exerpt from the Park’s website: It’s estimated that even half, which means approx. 16 500, of all animal species encountered in Poland are inhabitating this area (…) including 31 species of mosquitos.

And it’s not just some mosquitos, oh no! These were the very first mosquitos to bite through my hiking pants that had remained impenetrable to all kinds of insects I had encountered before. Heck, some of them managed even to get their needle through the hammock, sleeping bag and thick woolen socks combined. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel that this level of skill deserves some credit.

So that’s how I discovered that my mosquito-net jacket did not offer enough protection during sleep. And after a sleepless night, I decided to shorten my trip and got back home. And then I scratched. And scratched. And having scratched some more, I bought a big piece of window curtain that will serve me as a mosquito net in my next camp setup.

As I’ve mentioned before, I might try some street performing when I’m in Norway. Alas, I’m not taking any web-capable device with me, so this blog will probably turn very quiet till late September or early October and then I will hopefully write about how it went.


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