Thursday, 15 December 2011

An amazing (even if humbling) experience - rock climbing Railay (Part III)...

Team Taylor Deportation/Repatriation Countdown

Days left in Singapore: 8

Days left until arrival in the Queen City: 15


And a good evening to you all from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  The Bull made perhaps his last visit to Fitness First tonight, logging 31 KM on the bike in just over an hour.  I must give credit where credit's due and confirm that the dudes around me were really going for it on the bike tonight - people were actually pumping the pedals and potentially even sweating a bit.  Suddenly I no longer felt like Lance Armstrong and was really glad I wasn't rocking the neon yellow Livestrong shirt (Hairless, you know that one - it's your favorite).
Team Taylor at the Railay lookout, looking back over East Railay (the side)
we stayed on.  T-Rowe - notice that I'm rocking (and sweating in)
your favorite shirt.  I'm thinking of giving this to Ben as a present...
Okay, so let's get back to Railay for the final installment, one that pushed the Bull about 700% beyond his max and left him humbled and more impressed with his wife than EVER.  Let's start with Saturday and our 7:45 AM wake-up call before our first of 2 highly anticipated activities:  Rock climbing. 

So in my first post I mentioned how we were vacationing in the fittest place on earth.  This is 100% true,  as I was EASILY the weakest and fattest guy on the island.  And granted, I do carry a nice dunlop with me everywhere I go, but still - I'm relatively thin (and admittedly weak).  But on the walk up to the rocks, I was feeling good - I'd done the indoor stuff before, I had some SWEET climbing shoes on (the rubber on the soles is the same stuff they use to make F1 tires - cool, huh?), and I was refreshed from a great night's sleep.  Our guide, Tu, was actually Jenny's guide the month before, but clearly homeslice didn't remember her.  He did have a decent command of English, and after a brief introduction, me, Muffin, and 2 Dutch cats (Roland and his wife Peternel) were ready to tackle the cliff face (mom, don't panic - you're strapped in by about 1500 cables - you ain't goin' ANYWHERE). 

Move over, Sir Edmund Hillary - the Striker is now Queen
of the Mountain.  Look at her go!
Tu picks the first spot, and Jenny says, "This was the last one we tried last time - I was so exhausted I couldn't get up it."  But since it was our first climb of the day, we figured we'd be refreshed enough to tackle it.  And so Jenny goes first, and she's a ROCKET up that cliff.  Seriously, I know I love my wife and am biased, but I'm telling you - SHE'S A NATURAL.  It was AMAZING watching her scamper up that cliff face like a billy goat.  The three of us below were, well, VERY impressed.

After that, however, we turned it over to the OTHER half of Team Taylor - this guy.  Folks, I got no lie to tell, I got halfway up and I was EXHAUSTED.  Now granted, I'm sure my technique was bad and I was using my arms too much, but regardless, about halfway up I just couldn't go any further.  After a few failed attempts (and a few bleeding wounds), I asked Tu to let me down.  The conversation went like this:

Sammy the Bull (StB):  "Tu, I can't do it, mate.  Let me down."

Tu the Pygmy Douchebag (TtPD):  "No.  Believe in yourself.  You can do it.  Don't be scared."

StB:  "Dude, I'm not scared.  I'm exhausted.  I need to rest."

TtPD:  "Don't use your arms to much.  You are not thinking.  Try again."

StB:  (louder now - others can here)  "Tu, I CAN'T DO IT.  I DON'T WANT TO DO IT AND I'M OKAY WITH THAT.  LET ME DOWN."

TtPD:  "No.  Everyone else can do it.  You are the only person I've had in 4 years who cannot do this.  Climb!" 

StB:  "(We apologize - this portion of the broadcast is edited as Sammy the Bull dropped the f-bomb about 6 times and just stopped shy of cursing Tu's mother.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog, already in progress."

Sammy the Bull in a rare moment of success en route to his
first successful summit.  Needless to say I don't look quite
as graceful as Jenny, who looked like she was born in
Katmandu and moved to Florida by accident.
Finally Tu lets me down, and my arms are hurting so bad that I can't straighten them.  I can't close my fists, and I can't pick up my shoes and hold them (they are collectively less than a pound).  And so while I try to rest, the Dutch pair scampers up the hill as well (but not as fast as muffin).

We then move to the next spot, and this time I get about three quarters of the way up (with a nice gash on my right shin that is now a sweet scar - at least I can say, "Yeah, I got that baby rock climbing in Railay") before I just can't move.  Again, Tu and I get into a shouting match, and he reminds me that he's never had anyone fail before and now I've failed twice.  His words of encouragement include:

1.  "Work harder!"

2.  "Quit being scared!"

3.  "Climb!"

4.  "Stop doing the wrong thing!" 

5.  "Don't be the one who fails!"

Movie poster for "Vertical Limit 2:  Invasion of the Chang
Powered Ang Mo's"
All of this was very positive, but after I told him to put me the @#$# down for the 4th time, he did.  However, he then announces that, after everyone else goes, I'm going to go again.  I want to kill him, but I do it, and I do eventually get to the top (he was pulling on the harness so hard I thought my balls were in my throat).  And so I crossed one off, and the view was amazing, but I was bleeding from about 30 different places, my arms felt like trucks were resting on them, and we had 2 climbs to go.

Sam and Tu acting like they don't want to kill each other.
I really did contemplate strangling him with the belay rope.
I managed the 3rd one (in a cave), acquiring only 2 new cuts this time.  But then there was the 4th - a 30 meter (100 foot) assault off what can only be described as a sheer cliff face.  I managed about 13 meters, but that was all I had.  Again, Tu refused to let me down until I just finally gave up the argument and sat in my harness for about 5 minutes.  Finally, the weight of my fat ass began to exhaust him, and he let me down.  Everyone else SHOT UP that thing - Jenny was a bolt of lightning.  I'm tellin' you - that girl has K2 written all over her.

As much as I'm bitching here, the climbing was really fun.  Granted, I was disappointed in myself (no other way to describe it - I was really down and somewhat embarrassed), but I definitely was glad that I did it and do think I'll try the indoor stuff in Charlotte (especially since I know there's a beginner section).  And more importantly, Jenny was a force of NATURE scrambling up that thing, and it was really fun to watch her go.  I was very proud of my fearless wife.

Notice the hands - the only clean spot is where
I taped over all the gashes on my hand.
We celebrated our efforts with a Thai pancake (read:  crepe) on the beach before wandering up to the viewpoint on one of the cliffs.  The climb up there was RIDICULOUS - barely a trail, and what was there was just COVERED in mud.  There was a rope the whole way, and you ABSOLUTELY had to use it - otherwise you were going to bounce all the way down (and YES - that would have hurt).  The view from the top was SPECTACULAR, and we even ran into Ronald up there (as I said - it's a small place).  The 3 of us then tried to make our way to "the lagoon," but that might have been damn near the most treacherous hiking I've ever done, and when we saw the 100 jagged, natural steps (with no rope) that were covered in mud descending straight into oblivion to get to the lagoon, we decided that we'd had enough and went instead over to the beach.  You should have seen us - we were COVERED in red mud.  It was like something out of a survival movie (WIIIIIIIIIIILSOOOOOOOON!!!!!).

We then took much needed showers before rolling over to the Diamond Cove for a few mojitos and some GREAT seafood (Yes, you read that right - we went somewhere OTHER than Last Bar).  The food was amazing, and we were starving from the day's exertions.  Seriously - I burned more calories on this vacation than I have all the others in Asia combined!  And of course, that meant there was more room for Tim Tams, which we then consumed with a vengeance back in the room.

Notice the opening behind Jenny - that's the "staircase of Doom"
descending to "the lagoon."  You know, when you think about
it, we could have been on the set of "The Descent" or something
like that.  Luckily I had Lara Croft to protect me.
Cheers to a successful day!  And to $3 mojitos...
It was then back before 8 and asleep before 9, as we had ANOTHER crazy active day in front of us - the Deep Water Solo.  I'll cover this one in another blog (which means yes - I did NOT make good on my promise to wrap Railay before Muffin Puffin's return.  But look at it this way - that's a clear indicator that you've not read a "pineapple blog" in two weeks!), but suffice it to say that, as I laid awake (and believe me, I was awake for awhile, because THE PAIN IN MY ARMS WAS SO MISERABLE I THOUGHT SOMEONE HAD DROPPED A SKYSCRAPER ON EACH OF THEM), my confidence was shaken.  I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd failed myself on that cliff, and I had the sinking feeling that the DWS was going to be repeat performance, especially given how tired my arms were.  But no matter what, I WAS confident in 2 things:  a) my Muffin Puffin was going to be a ROCK STAR (no pun intended) on the cliffs, and b) I would give it everything I had, but if that wasn't enough, I wouldn't be ashamed.  Stay tuned for what happened.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat Saturday morning (vs. tomorrow because MUFFIN PUFFIN ARRIVES!!!!!!!!!)!


Sam and (now in the Mumbai airport awaiting her SQ flight back to the Lion City and a very lonely and excited Husband Bear) Jenny (and Lady Catherine)

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