Five hours from Mui Ne to Dalat in a painfully cramped bus (the only unfortunate leg of our 7 stop trip however), and we found ourselves in Dalat, a quaint mountain side town in the hills of southern Vietnam. Complete with an Eiffel Tower (I’m still unsure why but it’s there, on a miniature scale), blooming gardens and flower markets we wish we could have spent more time here.
One of the more adventurous and thrill-seeking parts of our trip were to be done in Dalat – namely Canyoning.
For a mere $20 we were taken up into the forest with a group of 20, strapped into life jackets, helmets and harnesses and sent down a trail bouncing off trees for safety.
Practice session first, before a quick easy jump backwards over a 10 meter cliff to make sure you knew how to do it. A walk through the forest, and you find yourself at small, gentle waterfalls.
Oh, you lie on your back and slide down bumpy rocks and hope you don’t hurt yourself too. (You actually don’t, but make sure you lie straight back. It’s hard to do once you’re moving and if you don’t, you will smash your lower spine. THAT HURTS. It was the first – not the last – time that day that I heard screams from the rest of our group for my safety.)
Next station is the ‘25-metre challenge.’ Leaning backwards over a waterfall, the rocks are insanely slippery. There are three parts to the challenge – first you make it down to the ledge. Then over the ledge and down through the currents of water whacking you in the face. Next you run out of rope. So you must let go, like a maniac, and leave your fate to your Vietnamese guides with questionable English/safety skills. My experience involved falling flat on my face in the first ledge, panicking, sliding to the ledge, regaining my footing and falling flat on my face again. Almost drowning and praying to god when I let go as we ran out of wall/rope. Thank you man who was on the wall at the same time as me. Without you I may have drowned in a panicky-waterfall-mess. Ripped t-shirt and bloody elbow to match may I add.
Then we have a 10 metre cliff jump into the water. What the hell, I survived that last bit, may as well battle this fear of jumping once and for all.
Finally, we have ‘The Washing Machine’. A seemingly harmless waterfall which is in fact a very narrow gully of water in which you fall to your death, holding your breath and getting spun every which way with no control out into the river. How we didn’t do damage I have no idea.
Then for the long, painful climb back up the hill to the minibus, achy, cold, wet, and exhilarated.
Because for all of my clumsy, uncoordinated accidents where I seemed like exactly the kind of girl who shouldn’t be doing these sorts of trips, I loved every single second of it. It was an adrenalin rush like no other, but also a real challenge for me. Physical activity, extreme sports – they aren’t natural to me. So to come out of one, having struggled through it and loved every second was exactly what I needed. I’d jump back down those waterfalls in seconds.
Note: It’s damn cold up in Dalat compared to the sweltering heat of Ho Chi Minh and Mui Ne – bring a pair of jeans and be excited about the fact you can wear them!