As someone who spent six years of her childhood living in a remote village in Cyprus, I’m really not very ‘rural wise.’ This is the thought that is banging in my head as we ascend through the jungle on our way to see a waterfall; that and “God, I hope there are no fucking snakes around here.”
Just as the latter crosses my mind, a rattling begins to resound above our heads from somewhere high up in the trees.
“That’s a snake,” Ankit exclaims in a way that makes it sound like it’s a positive discovery.
I suddenly experience a flashback to my childhood of my grandma holding a massive stick as she lead us through the village fields on our way to go olive picking. The stick was used to kill any of the slithery bastards that we may have encountered on the way.
“Stomp your feet on the ground. It scares them off,” she’d tell us in Greek.
With this in mind, I start making as much noise as possible as we continue to make our way up in the jungle. Sweat is pouring down my back and in my face, which brings about a stinging sensation that I haven’t experience since my Bikram yoga days. My mouth is dryer than a summer-parched well, and I’m starting to regret today’s choice of footwear – flip-flops are made for the beach; they’re not made for trekking through the jungle.
Ankit is walking full steam ahead and seems as comfortable as Tarzan. I think back to my childhood again and smile to myself at how nothing much changes; when my brothers and cousins would be climbing trees and running down steep hills for fun, I’d be sat with my grandma enjoying the view or wishing I were back home reading a book. As much as I love the great outdoors, I enjoy it far more from beneath a gazebo and with a strong drink in my hand.
But the whole point of this trip, I tell myself, is to push the boundaries and try things I wouldn’t necessarily try. This was also the reason why Ankit and I decided to head out today without even a semblance of a plan.
After spending the majority of the previous day holed up in the apartment working, we were starting to experience cabin fever.
“Are we becoming boring?” I asked him while my eyes were still glued to my Macbook.
“I think so,” he replied, typing away.
“That’s it – tomorrow we’re heading out.”
Despite the fact I’ve not had the best of experiences on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam, off we were again, daypacks in hand. We hit the road and decided to follow the coast north to see what we could find.
As we left the city behind, we came across more of the stunning scenery that makes me love this country. The juxtaposition between towering, vivacious green mountain tops and the azure blue sheen of the sea always leaves me in awe.
After about twenty minutes of driving, we came across a fishing village – the stench is what alerted us to this before we had even seen the first boat. In a shallow, calm part of the sea there were dozens upon dozens of blue, green and red fishing boats.
The pace of life seemed even slower here than in Nha Trang – there were hammocks hanging in the front of almost every house and makeshift coffee shops along the way.
We carried on through the village and made our way onto what appeared to be the main road that led to Hanoi (just over 1000km away if you’re interested). Lorries and double-decker sleeper buses stormed passed us while honking their horns. We continued to pass by picturesque surroundings, including a pretty pagoda.
Approximately 30km outside of Nha Trang, I spotted a big sign that said ‘TOURIST’ on it, which pointed towards what appeared to be a dirt track. I alerted Ankit to it, and we decided to dive straight in and see where it would take us.
Soon enough we were rattling down the muddy road towards somewhere. Where exactly we did not know.
There was what appeared to be a small village lining the track. Multi-coloured washing was hanging outside of one-roomed homes, while some locals were taking a rest from the penetrating midday heat in the shade.
The foliage grew thicker and the homes grew sparser, and we started to carefully ride through massive puddles as pretty white butterflies played among themselves.
After riding for what seemed like an hour (fifteen minutes in real time), we drove through an open gate; there was a hut to our left, and in front of us a tranquil stream of water. You immediately felt the temperature drop beneath the coolness of the shade.
It turns out we had arrived at the Bo Ha Waterfall. After paying almost a dollar each, we began our ascent through the jungle.
We continue to walk the track, and we finally reach the first ‘falls.’ On first inspection, it appears that these falls are pretty underwhelming. There are red arrows all over the boulders, which are indicating where we need to go next.
“Billy, we’re in flip-flops. I think this is where our route ends.”
We decide it’s too risky to carry on, as we both have our expensive cameras with us and aren’t equipped to make the hike. I wonder if my twenty-year-old self would have been more adventurous, and I decide that she probably wouldn’t have even made it this far.
The trip back to Nha Trang also turns out to be a mini-drama. As we’re driving down the road and enjoying the view, Ankit utters words that I don’t want to hear while I’m riding on a motorcycle.
“There’s a problem.”
The tyre is punctured. After a Vietnamese guy stops and mimes to us that we need to walk in the opposite direction, we start walking back, Ankit dragging the motorcycle by his side. We’re both sweltering hot and hungry.
We manage to get it ‘fixed’ for less than a dollar and continue on our journey. Less than fifteen minutes later and just as we’re entering Nha Trang I hear those words for the second time.
“There’s a problem. Again.”
This time we have to walk even further and discover that there are four punctures in the tyre tube, because it’s ‘gone bad.’ By this point, we both look like we’ve been dragged through a gutter a few times – we’re sweaty, smelly and yeah, still hungry.
We look at each other and laugh. I’m realising that as much as I hate to admit it, these are the travel experiences that are going to stay with us the longest. In 40 – 50 years time when we’re telling our grandkids about our adventures, I highly doubt I’ll be regaling all the times that I sat by the beach and drank ten Piña Coladas.
But the time we drove for ages and walked for kilometres through the jungle only to come across some pretty lame waterfall, and then endured five tyre punctures within the space of half an hour? Yeah, that story I’m going to tell.
Here’s a YouTube video of the dirt track that we drove down!