Sometimes you don´t know if you are walking or drowning.
Khao Ra is the highest point of Koh Phangan, 627 meters, and pretends to offer magnificent views.
Started at 7 a.m., from the beach, a darkened line by a dumping froth of Zero, adopting the challenge seriously. Classified as a 2 to 4 hours walk to the top, expecting an hour to the bottom of Khao Ra and about a 2 hours trek up.
Two apples, a pack of nuts, 1,5 liter of water, so expecting an easy jungle hike. From Shambhala Bungalow Village to the bottom of the hill, so called highest point – “Pah! I am a bavarian guy from the alpine upland. 637 meter? I probably walk that on my hands”, it was a comfy good morning walk.
You can´t miss the starting point. If you are reaching from the Southwest like me, taking the main road to Ban Chalok Lam, nearby the Y-junction, turn right and expect the sign to Khao Ra Bungalows after about 200 m, turn left and follow the dirt road. At the Wat turn left again. After about 1 kilometer, at the main entrance, take the left path guiding up, which seems to be logic not to take the other path downwards.
On the way i picked up a bamboo bar, expected the movement guiding me in some kind of a wandering mood. At that point didn´t know what a gift this bar gonna be – you don´t need to be in the mood of surviving. Further i imagined fighting a Spider´s Web, Scorpions or Cobras, or one of these tiny teethfreakin dogs, protecting their territory, tryin, needled by the bamboo bar, to snap your lower legs.
So, the first steps on the dirt road up the hill were like all first steps. “Fuck, i´ll never get this done. Breath slowly, find rhythm, stay strong, take your time and use the power of the bar, get into the mood. Bullshitting.” Having crossed the bridge of the water reservoir, a sign briefs “Khao Ra 2km”.
The dirt road ends and the trek begins. The path is getting more narrow and unlighted.
I secured my camera in the bag, otherwise it would have been sponged by my floating limbs.
The bamboo bar turns more and more in some kind of a walker and the only possibility to avoid a break down. “Don´t sit down, you never will rise up.”
I felt the pressure of the last hundred packages of cigarettes inhaled the last week, sticking like a cork in my lungs. Even during my first dive after 7 years i didn´t had that feeling of breathing in a vacuum cleaner.
It was just overwhelming exhausting. Sweating. Perspiration. Exudation. All of a sudden.
Managed a couple of steps, needed a rest, hanging around the bar, the head beetween my elbows. Drunken of dizzyness and a lack of everything, near the point of collapsing into darkness.
Just forgot how rough it is to stand the effort in this climate.
Over roots and by muddy steps. Up. Fallen trees, lying there in peace, at-ease. Approaching felt like, “Hell! How may i pass that, i even can´t lift my leg transforming a footstep. First leg… first… as i felt the trunk under my ass, i went down, taking a silent ride on the trunk in peaceland. So again, resting, for how long who knows. Lost time. I supposed being really slow motion.
I won´t reach the top before noon.
Couldn´t stop sweating.
I am drowning in textile waterfall.
I can´t even remember the surrounding. I saw trees, huge plants, leaves and stone structures, but more like in that second, you recognize you are dead beat drunken and you have to puke or surrender to coma or both. Most of the time i saw roots stomped in mood. My muscles were burning, my head was a flaming lantern.
“Don´t release the bar. Only friend inside this sweating pot.”
Then there was light.
Earlier as i expected.
First thinking of a fata morgana, sparkling through the maze of exhaustion, glorious hope! – all caused by dehydration, having saved my water for… whatever for… Is this the end? Or the top? The redemption?
It was! As i reached the top i surrendered, just released myself, the bag, the bar and the sucking shirt. A wooden sign approved the arrival at the top of Khao Ra, with the great view over Koh Phangans bays and beaches. And surprise, the reward of this grand best fucked up trek was a view drowned in mist. To be honest, i wasn´t blaming at all. I was just glad to reached the end of this torture of a first trekking experience. Checked my watch, started at 7:15 a.m. from the beach, expected something like 11 a.m.. It was 9:03 a.m..
Again, i have to wonder about my ambitions about goals, bleeding the way through. I have to think about turning.
Downhill i enjoyed the silent colors, the fluttering treetops, the way of growth and protection.
And the bamboo kept me going.
I loved it!
Note: Don´t forget a towel to take with you!