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Thursday, August 6, 2009

We Have More Fun When We're Wet

I like rappelling. If I think back to my army days, I would say that rappelling was the physical activity I was best at. When we passed out from BMT, I was selected to rappel down the side of the building while the other tougher guys did stuff like Log PT (whew!). Then during the camp's open house for teachers from MOE, I was again selected to do an inverted rappel from our jump tower. Now that was really fun!

So upon our arrival at San Gil, when we looked at all the activities possible, I knew that rappelling down a waterfall was a must.

Juan Curi Waterfall is about 20km away from San Gil, in an area called Charalá. The bus dropped us off directly in front of a bare-bones kinda farm, which also served as the entrance station to the waterfall. 'Entrance station' is stretching the truth a little though. After submitting the coupons we purchased for rappelling, and signing documents that waives the operators of any responsibilities, we were directed down a path that was strewn with cow poop for a half-hour hike up the mountain.

We were fortunate that there was a local family who was also going up the waterfall, providing some company and motivation up the slope. After all, we can't lose out to the kids, right?

Yi Lin got herself a nice walking stick to climb to the waterfall. Yes, that's the one in the distant background!

The family split off after awhile. Grandfather, Mom, 2 sons, 1 daughter and 1 daughter-in-law went off directly to the plunge pool at the base of the waterfall, leaving only Dad to continue the arduous trek upslope with us.

It really wasn't that long before we arrived at the waterfall (though our aching thighs told us it was still wayyyy too long).

The higher part of the falls that we rappelled from

The setup at the waterfall is really simple. The operators just wait for people to turn up and then they hook them up off they go! Despite it being a really wet activity, you can bring a bag, camera and whatever other stuff with you. If you have a camera, they oblige by helping you take a few photos, before putting everything into a waterproof bag and sending it down via a separate guy line.

Gloves and helmet provided by the operator and (icky) shoes provided on loan by the hostel

The Dad of the local family went off first, while we took our time taking pictures of the lovely surroundings. I went second, as the wife wanted her husband to be a guinea pig to make sure it was safe.

Despite my supposed experience with rappelling, the gushing water does make it slightly tricky. I slipped once before being reminded to keep my feet apart to maintain my balance. Slipping is not a big deal though. The thing about rappelling is that when the line behind you is taut, you can literally release both hands and you would not move. Your body weight actually acts as a brake to prevent you from sliding down non-stop.

I started moving down, and the cold water started soaking me. As the water landed on my helmet, I was reminded of the Ford Punto that we once took for a test-drive in the rain. The Ford Punto had a really thin roof and the rain was clattering down so noisily that the wife and I had to shout at each other. This was similar, but much more rhythmic and soothing!

The 80m descent is such a rush!

With typical Singaporeaness, I found that I was rushing myself in my descent to make way for the wife to join me. Then, through the cascade of water, I could dimly see the wife being hooked up to another line and making her way down on my right. Nice!

Since the place was not crowded, I decided to just stop and really enjoy the scenery while waiting for her. After all, when you're in the midst of a waterfall, there are rainbows all around. Oooh... pretty colours!

The wife finally made her way down to my level, and we shared the sweetest kiss ever before making the rest of our way down. It is really so much better having company. We were whooping and cheering our way down, and the family below was cheering us on too. What a sense of comraderie!

Mission accomplished!

Feeling strong and mighty!

Upon reaching the base of the waterfall, we unhooked ourselves and stripped down to our swimwear so that we could dry our clothes on a convenient ledge.

There is really no time limit on the amount of time you can spend at the bottom of the falls. Since it was not crowded, and there were families around, we actually felt pretty safe and secure.

Lush greenery near the waterfall

Yi Lin spent a lot of time just admiring the rush of the falls, and luxuriating in the serenity of our surroundings. But you could swim in the plunge pool if you wanted. The water was constantly being refreshed by the waterfall, and felt totally clean.


There is also a little ledge about 3m above the pool where you could jump from into the pool. I, of course, had to do that. It was just like jumping from our liveaboard in the Maldives, except that the water was not salty, and way colder. But that's me. I like stuff like that. Just make sure you ask the locals where is a safe place to aim for though.

First jump!

This was supposed to be a head-first dive, but I chickened-out halfway

I also had to prove my manliness by climbing up the lower ledges of the falls. It was really quite scary because the rush of water obscured my vision completely, and the ledges were slippery. But there were sufficient handholds in the rocks to make this possible.

Damned fun!

And damned tiring!

Yi Lin's version of climbing the falls was just to walk along the ledge where the water was falling to take a picture, then retreat

Mother and son who are into adventure sports taking their turn with the rappel. The kid was only 10 years old!

After a bit more of monkeying around, we decided to make a move. So it was back down the same path to the farm, where we changed back into our slippers which were way more comfortable.

I always wanted a day at the waterfalls like this!

It was a pleasant surprise when the father of the 10 year old boy who rappelled after us offered us a ride back to San Gil. The family spoke very good English, and the kid was talking all the way about the adventure sports that he likes (climbing, rappelling, rafting), stories of animals that he has come in contact with (tarantulas, boa constrictors) and his favorite plant (the venus flytrap). I think he was probably one of the most well-spoken and well-mannered 10-year-old I've ever had the pleasure to meet!

All in all, a really great day!


Ms Shirley Wong said...

That look so super cool!!!! You looked like you had fun, wish I were there! Today we had National Day celebrations in school and community singing.. :) Feeling patriotic now!

Debra said...

I'm looking at your pics now with the sun really blazing down here in Singapore and all I can think of is, man I wanna play in the waterfall too!!!

Dannie said...

@Shirley: Yeah... but I'm sure you'll have a nice weekend too! Enjoy your holiday!

@Debra: Is it still hot in Singapore? I thought temperatures have normalised already. But nothing beats a good day at a waterfall. Nothing! :)

singaporeshortstories.blogspot.com said...

Wow, its really such an adventure! Both of you look Great like models too!

Dannie said...

@SSS Wow, thanks for the whole load of comments! We're always glad to have more people following us on our adventures. And thanks for the compliment! ;)

lint said...

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