I ran into the boys on day 4, my first day of rest after 3 days of climbing. They were headed to climb somewhere across the river and they said that they'd be out at the Q-Bar later in the evening. We met up that night and of course we talked about climbing. I had a million questions, and they were eager to provide me with answers. Shane asked if I wanted to join them for a climb the next day- they were headed to a place 20k outside of town. He told me to just rent a harness and some shoes, and to meet them at their breakfast spot on the corner at 9am. I could barely sleep. These guys are ammmaazing climbers-- so I was excited that I was even allowed to tag along-- but better yet I was going to get in some climbing as well!!! I woke before 7, had coffee and breakfast, rented my gear and met up with the boys. Let me introduce you:
Mike: mike is 30years old...from upstate PA, but has been living on the west coast for years now. He has his masters degree in environmental education and he is a diehard outdoorsmen. For 6 months of the year he works in Yosemite National Park and the other 6 in northern California or traveling around the globe. He is extremely docile, lover not a fighter, and patient-beyond-comprehension. He is humble and the type of person that always says "bless you" after you sneeze. He's a goddamn powerhouse, 185pounds of sheer muscle...a climbing machine. He dances his way up the rocks. Its fascinating. I'll be visiting him this fall in yosemite for some free camping, hotsprings, and of course- climbing!
Marcus: Marcus is 31 years old, from Switzerland. He is an accomplished graphic designer, musician, cycler, hiker, snowboarder, surfer and climber. As soon as you think you've figured out Marcus he throws a curve ball at you-- he's probably also a master painter and famous philosopher! He has a hand in everything! I love Marcus's attitude-- "no probbblem". He was the one belaying me on a difficult climb the other day. I was up there for awhile, and had to say TAKE a couple times...just hanging there trying to figure out a route to the top. I was cussing up a storm and apologizing for being a shitty climber. He always just gave a little smile and a shrug, replying "...No Probbblem".
Shane: Shane is from new Zealand. He is quite tall with broad full shoulders and an amazing chiseled back. He is extremely quiet and he comes off as serious-- though I get the impression that when he's around his buddies that he's anything BUT serious. He's an athlete through and through- and he's done everything from racing dirtbikes to surfing. The first few days that I hung out with Shane I thought that he hated me. Or atleast was annoyed by me and my constant banter. On the final day, in the final hours, I realized that this wasnt the case at all. Shane is shy and considerate and patient-- I get the impression that not only is he a loyal climbing partner, but the most loyal of friends. When he climbs he is quiet and calculated, each move thought out. If we had a few more days together I think that he would have come out of his shell a bit. No worries though, I'll be seeing him again.
Alon: Alon is Israeli, and is Shanes travel partner and climbing partner. They met in New Zealand and they've been climbing and Traveling together ever since. The compliment eachother like peanutbutter and jelly-- it seems as if they've been friends since birth. Alon is also an amazing climber-- but he shouts cuss words when he falls and he does NOT like words of encouragement while climbing. He takes full advantage of me being gullible...telling tall tales that get me going. "I just met my parents in Bangkok". "REALLY?!? no way!!!". Hahaha. Oh me oh my.
Last but not least,
Ahoud: Ahoud is also Israeli. He met Shane and Alon while climbing in Ton Sai (Thailand), and they reconnected in Vang Vieng. He's the most outgoing of the bunch- with a wicked sense of humor and sharp wit. Amidst the serious climbers, Ahoud is cursing and yelling and talking about cigarettes and beer. I love him. He also gives one of the best hugs I've ever gotten. He always says exactly what's on his mind and doesn't take any shit. He likes to climb, but he doesn't live and breathe it like the other guys do. He jokes that he's "retired" from the sport.
This group of gentlemen really MADE not only my trip to Van Vieng, but to all of Laos. I was having a "fuckall hatefest" until I started climbing and until I met the boys. Our final day together consisted of lounging all day by a blue lagoon, dipping in the cold water and relaxing. We had an EPIC Lao BBQ for dinner and then dancing and drinks @ the Q Bar to finish up the night. Such a lovely group of human beings, who were patient and extremely helpful in assisting me to wrap my head around this new sport. I'm so grateful to have crosses paths with them, and I can't wait for round 2....perhaps next year in Ton Sai!!
Linda and I have arrived now in the capital. We are drinking GOOD coffee at a proper CAFE, and later we are going to enjoy some wine and dinner at one of Vientianes many amazing French restaurants. Laos wasn't so bad afterall thanks to a few special travelers. Hopefully ill be just as lucky when I arrive in Indonesia. Two months of surfing, yoga, music and healthy living. Leaving this adventure and on to the next....
-John Hope Franklin : "We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey."
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