3/9/18: Canyoning in Vietnam

This somehow got stuck in drafts and I forgot to publish this one… oops! Sorry this is so late. 

I woke up early so I went for a run: I ran around the lake, which brought me to about 4 miles.

View from my hostel


Morning run

After a quick shower and breakfast, the van for canyoning picked us up at 9 am.

Our guides were Black Bear, Monkey, and Xavi. Monkey and Black Bear were super energetic and funny, and Xavi was the more normal, shy one. I found it odd/funny that they call themselves animal names.

After we got into our wetsuits and harnesses, the first hour was spent just learning how to abseil (aka rappel). We learned what each part of our harness did, the proper technique for abseiling, and then we practiced by rappeling down a concrete wall a couple times.

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We finally got going around 11. We walked down to the first cliff, which was 18 meters high and led into the river. We had to rappel down normally (i.e. step down) for the first half, and then use both legs to push off the wall in a sort of jumping motion for the second half of the wall. It went fine: no mess-ups for me. I let go of the rope and landed in water, which wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be. Yay!

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Next up, we waded through a lazy river. We approached a water fall, took some pictures, and walked a bit further to the next rappeling point.

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Being weird

This one was 15 meters high. I missed my step and one point and fell into the wall, but it was fine– I just used my feet to get back into position, and rappeled down the rest of the way fine.


We walked over to an area with two mini waterfalls to do a bit of canyoning. The guides laid us down, head facing the waterfall, and pushed us off and down the “slide.” I felt like I was drowning a bit on the first one, and then I felt like I was drowning again on the second one PLUS hit my leg/hips on the rocks, so I didn’t really enjoy it.

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Once that was over with, we walked a bit further to go cliff jumping. There were three levels: 7 meters, 9 meters, and 11 meters. Once you could prove that you could do the first two levels, you were allowed to go for the 11 meters, which was a bit harder since you needed to run into it to clear some rocks.


I did the 7 and 9 meters no problem, so I decided to go for the 11 meters. I really thought I could do it, but once it was my turn I couldn’t stop thinking about the placement of my feet, what would happen if I didn’t step close enough to the edge, or if my legs weren’t strong enough to clear the rocks, so I decided not to do it in the end. I did the 9 meter jump again instead.

We went to another lazy river, and FINALLY it was lunch time. I was absolutely starving. I ate two banh mis with tofu, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, and hot sauce. I also had a bunch of fruit, which was AMAZING– especially the mango. I couldn’t stop eating it. They had pineapple and watermelon too.

Our final activity was rappeling again, this time down a waterfall.

Part 1 is rappeling a few meters normally, but then at a certain point the wall is too far away to reach with your feet so Part 2 is rappeling as fast as you can with your arms. At this point, the waterfall is really pouring down on you and you want to get out of there as fast as possible. Part 3 is letting go of the rope a meter or so above the river, and then letting the current take you out. The last part was the scariest because you’re under the water for a while and you can feel how strong the current is, but you don’t know when you’re coming back up. When I finally resurfaced, I was in a cross between a panic and adrenaline rush because I really felt like I was drowning for a second.

Part 1


Part 2


After that craziness, we trekked back up to the top and a van took us back to the hostel.

I really enjoyed my experience: a lot of times in SE Asia you are questioning the safety of whatever you’re doing (hiking, canyoning, ziplining, etc.), but this company was legit and made me feel safe. Their English was also really good, and the activities were more challenging than I thought they’d be. The tour company is called Highland Sport, in case you guys are wondering.


Back at the hostel, the staff took our shoes and socks, which were soaked and full of dirt, to clean them for us. I mean… does it get any nicer??!?

Family dinner was another amazing round of Vietnamese food. I also got a free cocktail, which was included in the price for canyoning. So I guess it isn’t free.


The cousin of the owner is a professional violinist who, along with a professional pianist, puts on a mini concert for the hostel every Friday. Both of them were really talented, and it was so nice to just sit there and relax, listening to beautiful music. It made me feel like a real adult.


It’s pretty crazy to think that I used to do things like play piano and flip around. I can’t believe I, me, Anna, could do that. I could play different notes on my left and right hands simultaneously and do a back-handspring back-layout on a 4-inch balance beam. And I didn’t think much of it.

It makes me feel like my childhood self is a completely different person from my adult self. How can one person do so much and lose so much in a decade??!

I guess the positive flip side to that is if you can lose abilities, you can also gain new ones if you try.

I decided to go out to Maze Bar again with a few of the girls I had met. Some of them hadn’t been yet, so it was really fun watching their reactions to the craziness that is the Maze Bar.

Just one of the many interesting parts of the bar…

I also met a guy who was also Japanese and pretty cute, but upon talking with him realized he was a dud and I was sad. Typical.

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