One day, earlier this week, I attempt to journey out deep into the Vietnamese mountains and do some solo camping. An item on My 50 + 100 bucket list, and something I want to do so I can detox from society for a bit. You know? Relax in a valley with nothing but my tent, a fire and a gorgeous backdrop of mountains to keep me company.
Thus, I venture out past a puny village — further and further into seclusion. Nearly out of gas, 15km downhill from the nearest hand pumped gas tank, no cell service and everything I own on my back. I find a valley that looks promising. It's just down this strongly eroded mud slide, roughly 80ft tall. No big deal. I make my descent and am nearly at the valley. First, I need to clear this brush, and climb down a few large rocks.
Setting my bag on the ground, I navigate my way through the brush. Making some headway on clearing a path, I'm nearly at the valley. Just as I'm figuring out how to overcome the last bit of brush, it starts to rain, a lot. I spin around and start rushing back up to my bag.
Too late, it's already soaked, alongside nearly everything in it. The spot I'm currently in is at the bottom of a steep pile of large rocks, mud and gravel. Perfect for run-off water seeping into my tent if I set it up on the ground. There is no trees suitable for hanging the tent hammock either. This is really annoying, because, you'd think, being in a forest, this wouldn't be a problem. Surprise! I'm wrong.
I'd collected some kindling while in search of my camping spot, which, like everything else, was now wet. But, the bag of leaves, twigs and small sticks was still dry. I attempt to start a fire using petroleum jelly and cotton balls. Despite my decent fire building skills, the kindling was too wet to get it going into larger flames.
Defeated, I start packing my items up. To add insult to injury, the rain stops, and it's clear again. At this point, I've already made up my mind and am going to leave. It's better to retreat and try later than to spend the night soaking wet, in cold weather and get a cold or hypothermia. I know, right, you'd think "it's a tropical country, just a couple degrees north of the equator, you don't even need a jacket". NOPE! It was rather cold. Cold enough to need a jacket and long sleeve shirt.
I climb the hill with surprising ease, compared to going down, and thankful my motorbike hasn't been stolen or tampered with. I don't know why it would have been, but, you know those times when everything is going to shit, and you kind of expect the worst to happen because that's just the way things are going? This was one of those times.
Riding back, I mentally repeat to myself that the gas meter, which is on "empty", is actually wrong because of the steep ascent I need to climb over the next 15km. By some miracle, I don't run out of gas and finally arrive in town. And by town, I mean twenty-five shacks and three "stores". Somehow, many of the houses have satellite and flat screen Sony TV's.
I pay a 35% premium to fill my small gas tank, feeling some level of morale boost. Whether it's because I'm a foreigner, or because it has to be shipped so far out of the big city, most likely by motorcycle, I'm unclear why the gasoline costs more. It's still raining and I foolishly put my iPhone in my jacket pocket, zip it up, and hit the road.
Without the headphones on, I cannot even hear the music playing on speaker over the wind, rain and motorbike exhaust. I should have put it in my backpack, which had a rain cover. However, once I was moving along, I forget about the phone and focus more on driving, trying to see through my water-drop covered glasses; while going as fast as safely possible through a winding mountain road. Suffice to say, my $250 North Face jacket is nowhere near as waterproof as a $0.80 plastic poncho the locals use. Who would have thought?! Well... Every. Single. Local. It turns out.
After two and a half hours of being smashed in the face with hundreds of rain drops, shivering, squinting to see, and constantly worrying my bike will slide out from under me on nearly every bend of the road, I finally arrive in Da Lat. I find a shop and ask them to pull out my phone and look up the hostel I want to stay at, allowing me to get directions.
After drying it off, I watch the shop owner try to type in the letters I instruct to no avail. Damn it. I'm that guy. The one I've always been annoyed with while working at Apple who gets their phone wet in a careless manner. Just by watching how the keyboard responds to his attempts to type, I can tell, it's finished.
Having the phone for two and a half years, I was really pushing to wait for the next model to be announced. Even if I didn't get the latest model, which I wanted to do, I could still get the iPhone 7 Plus at the reduced rate after the announcement. Not anymore. Now I have to buy a full priced model, that in a matter of 6-7 weeks will be cheaper, fml. I'll skip the bantering and complaining, but yeah, my phone is dead and I'm stuck here wishing my iPad Pro had cellular on it. Ugh.
On the plus side, at least I'll get to full out smash my phone and not feel guilty at all for it. And given the Hauwai P8 I bought from China doesn't work with Vietnamese SIM cards, I can make this a two-for-one smash video. If I do record it, should I post it? Talk about anger-relief, I think I'm going to enjoy this!