Today, even though our arms were still in a lot of pain from the other day’s fishing we had booked to go white water rafting! I mean, even without our arms feeling so achy the rafting would have been a challenge.
After being collected from our hotel we were then driven round the town collecting other rafters or crew members depending upon your point of view and then we were out of town heading for the rafting camp. We were both feeling quite tired so were a bit subdued and quiet on the long drive as I had awoken quite early this morning and Liz had not had the best night’s sleep either but the minivan we were in was not for sleeping in at all, under any circumstances – argh!
When we got to the river valley we found it was home not only to the white water rafting camp but also to a couple of elephant camps as well. The valley is a beautiful place for the elephants to live in as there is plenty of water from the river running down the centre of the valley as well as all the lush green vegetation they could need, it was like being back in Laos it was that green. That said, it had been quite a trip to reach the place so when we arrived the first thing they did was give us lunch outdoors which was very nice and much appreciated. Whilst eating I got chatting to a Chinese guy there who had done the rafting earlier and thoroughly recommended it. It turned out that he was there because the company he worked for had paid for him and all his workmates to come over to Thailand – lucky so and so’s eh!
Anyhow once we had eaten our fill we were loaded up onto the van once more to be transported to the beginning of our trip, the idea being that would would raft back to the ‘base camp’. Now this was quite an interesting journey in its own right as it was very bumpy, the road suffering from numerous potholes and in places where the road thinned, possibly due to the landslides, we seemed to be driving perilously close to the edge and it was quite a way down to the valley floor from where I sat! Still with the minimum amount of fuss, apart from the odd gasp and strangled scream, we got there in one piece!
Once at the start we got kitted up, life jackets and helmets on and had the briefing that explained manning the raft and a rough idea of what to expect along the way. Our ‘captain’ was rather a young looking fella called ‘Gin’, not sure if he was a nautical cove or not but we would soon be finding out as me and Liz were paired with a couple of Essex Girls who seemed up for the laugh and having the full compliment of crew for the voyage we jumped aboard and readied ourselves for the off.
The waters around the starting point were a bit quieter so Gin tried us out following the commands that we had been taught at the briefing and he also explained a bit more about health and safety if you fell in – basically float feet first and try not to get bitten by the Crocs! I ‘think’ this last bit was said in jest, possibly our captain has a naughty-cal sense of humour (top drawer joke that, though in italics just in case you missed it or were of a nervous disposition!).
The trip down the river would have been idyllic as the scenery was just as you imagine rowing down the Limpopo or some other exotic sounding waterway except of course that it was a lot bumpier and much harder work. It was only a very short row from here however before we came across the river’s teeth! The river’s boulders these little gems were what made it all the more ‘rapidy’ and foamed the water into it’s white watery froth. Liz, as ever, spent a great deal of the river journey screaming like a banshee but, her noise aside it was a great laugh. One minute we would be rowing like mad, the next having to sit down and hold on whilst Captain Gin navigated us through a rapid or round the rugged rocks! Sometimes we had to lean over to one side or the other to avoid them or get us off the rocks but fortunately getting stuck did not happen that often.
Halfway down and here we had a bit of a stop off to have a swim in one of the still shallows which was really nice and gave us chance to recover after the first part of the rafting. Rest over, we jumped back into the raft and once again had some more fun ‘messing about down the rapids’ with yet more screaming from my good wife joined, in part with a few screams during the chorus from the Essex ladies in the back. Going through the rapids you could sometimes feel the rocks and boulders through the bottom of the raft but Gin always seemed to know the best route and steered us through it like a good ‘un. There was only one occasion when our captain let us down and we got actually stuck on the rocks and here it was quite a trial for all of us to work together and get the raft moving downstream once again. We finally reached the village huts for a bit of helloing of the villagers before seeing the bridge which marked the location of the base camp, we were back once again. It had been a really good piece of rafting with some Grade 2’s and 3’s and one rapid that was almost a Grade 4, not quite as challenging as when we did Vic Falls on a holiday we took in Africa but it had been a really great laugh, good fun all the way round.
As we were being driven back to our hotel we started to feel the aches and pains of our rafting journey and as it was quite a journey it was really difficult to get comfortable in the van. Anyhow at the hotel we had a bit of a rest to ready ourselves for the night. At night we were back out and gave ourselves a bit of a treat. We went for a Chang beer or two and a Curry, always great grub. The beers (purely medicinal) to keep our aches at bay and Indian food because it always warms our hearts as well as our bellies and, touch wood, we have not had a bad Indian meal whilst being out on our travels. This place did not disappoint either with respect to the food but the owner was a bit of a misery, so he put a bit of a damper on it. Anyhow we went on from there, onwards and possibly upwards and a couple of drinks later Liz had a cocktail that turned her into a right Cheeky Monkey and by this time the misery bum was out of all recollection. Wandering about the town we even managed to find a wee bar that not only had live music but it was heavy rock and metal too and they were doing requests – I asked for one of my own favs – ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ which they duly played and cor blimey it almost brought tears to my eyes!!