When you don’t know Swimming and still go Canyoning!

I am back to my room with muddy shoes, wet clothes, my legs bruised and my calves  killing me, but I swear this was the most AMAZING day of my life. I have never felt so alive and kicking. So let me set the clock back and tell you the story from the very beginning. This is one of the rare long weekends in Vietnam, so I grabbed my stuff and headed out to the central highlands of Vietnam, the mesmerizing Dalat. It’s cool and pleasant weather is such a welcome relief from the sweltering heat of Saigon and I fell in love with the city at first sight. When I was looking at stuff to do here, I came across different companies advertising “Canyoning in Dalat”. Overcoming fears and inhibitions is apparently in the top of my list now, so I looked it up and found that Canyoning is actually a mix of hiking, abseiling and swimming while treading through a canyon. And wikipedia says “Emphasis in the sport is usually on aesthetics and fun rather than pure difficulty“. So I decided to give it a go, but there was just this tiny problem. I don’t swim!

Anyways, I booked the tour with the guys assuring me that it’s not gonna be a problem and there are guides who can “save” me from the water. Let’s see how that goes 😉 We started the day at around 9 with a group of 20, armed ourselves with life jackets and helmets and ventured into the forest. The guides then introduced us to this wonderful art of abseiling and we got to practice a little bit but just like in life, the practice was nothing compared to the real stuff.

The practice session - telling us basically how not to get ourselves killed ;)

The practice session – telling us basically how not to get ourselves killed 😉

Then we trekked down to our first cliff which had to be conquered. Man, it looked so much easier on plain ground. The key point to note in abseiling is you need to be at an angle of 90 degrees to the surface you are going down, which requires you to lean back without losing the grip on your feet. It definitely is a bit scary at first especially for a novice like me! And that was not all! The last 3 metres is a free fall jump where you just let go of the rope and fall into the water on your back. Eeeks! We were supposed to swim to the shores from there but I managed to get myself a personal life guard who jumped in with me everytime 😀

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It was a beautiful place to be hanging on the rope from, don’t you agree? 😀

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That’s me on the right clinging to my life in the edge of the cliff.. 😉

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And that’s me getting it almost right. So proud of those calf muscles, I really am getting fitter I hope 😉

The next destination was a similar cliff which was around 15m high, a bit more steeper but I aced it like a pro 😉 To get from one place to the next we had to do a lot of walking in the streams with pretty strong currents and slippery rocks. It was loads of fun doing it in a big group, giggling and helping each other whenever we slipped. Sometimes we even let the streams carry us down, floating and holding hands! By then I was feeling so very confident that I did a 7m free fall jump into the water. I still couldn’t swim though and the life jacket and my lifeguard took care of that part 😛 We did a couple of natural water slides as well.. so much more fun than the ones in the amusement parks! Check out the video it’s kinda funny to look at actually 😀 – Natural Water slide

Finally after a well deserved lunch, we got to the highlight of the tour. Abseiling down a 25m waterfall :O Gathering up all the courage that I got, I started the climb down. Everything was fine until I reached the middle where the force of the waterfall was just too strong that it swayed me to the sides. It took me all the strength I got to get back up on my feet on the slippery rocks but that was when I realized I was no longer afraid. I was actually enjoying this thing to the bits. Mission accomplished! 🙂 Oh, did I mention there was a free fall at the end of that too? I have some pretty neat pictures to show you how that went.

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Isn’t this place right out of heaven? And yes, that’s what we were doing on this beautiful waterfall 😉

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So when the guy with the cap counts down to threeee….

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You just let gooooo 😀

We were feeling so much accomplished after this one but there was one more to go. The famous Washing Machine waterfall; named so since it twists and turns you like the poor clothes in your washing machine 😀 The instructions for this one were a bit hazy and when I actually abseiled down to the waterfall and was hit by it’s forceful water, I just dropped into it :O I was supposed to have let the rope down inch by inch enjoying the waterfall pushing me on all sides but I assumed this was where we jump and I did! I have no words to explain the next 2 minutes, or maybe it just just 30 seconds! But it was the longest 30 seconds of my life 😀 And I lovvvveeddd it! When I came back to the top of water and took that gasp of breath, wow it was freaking amazing! I was on top of the world right then and even when my personal lifeguard didn’t jump this time, I didn’t freak out and managed to actually paddle to the shore. Yeyyy and that’s a happy ending! 😀

Overall, I will cherish this memory of Canyoning in Dalat forever. It occupies a very special place in my heart as it has made me feel so much more confident about my body and what I can do. This is the most I have pushed myself to, so far. I am loving these challenges and gonna keep them coming! The time of my closeted adventure streak is now officially over 😀

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29 thoughts on “When you don’t know Swimming and still go Canyoning!

    • Haha thanks Elaine 🙂 Maybe Skydive or paraglide.. I’m terrified about jumping into nothing so that might be it.. Need to save money for that though 😛

  1. Good one 🙂 However I wud like to know the reaction of ur parents on hearing/seeing these. Cuz when I went for River Rafting in RIshikesh I cud feel the entire Sivakasi crackers bursting at home 😛 😉

    • Haha 😀 It isn’t that bad here and by now they are getting used to this.. Me traveling solo was the biggest concern for them initially and now all they say is “be careful; be safe and have fun!” 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness Shmruthi I want to go and do this! The photos are fantastic and I love the description of your day. Good for you to embrace the adventure and not let fear stand in your way.

    • Thanks for the comment 🙂 I used to think that I am scared of heights too! Only when you actually try to face it, you will know for yourself whether ur fear is true or fake 😉

  3. That looks incredibly terrifying. I swear I could hear the waterfall as I was reading! You’ve definitely got some guts doing that- it looks like such a rush! Congratulations on accomplishing something so courageous and making a wonderful memory that will teach you and guide you for years to come!

  4. Woah! You are one brave lady. Hats off! So i have done a few crazy things in water, without knowing swimming as well…. but this sounds incredibly scary!

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