The day I almost died took place in Hau Hin 14 months ago before I moved to Thailand. I want to include it for two reasons, firstly because I want you to know I like to live dangerously and secondly, I can’t think of anything else to write today. If you are faint of heart please stop reading now…
The Day I Almost Died
I’m not a hero, I’m nothing special despite what you may have heard or read. Ok, so I did save a group of children from an out-of-control wheelbarrow once. I will also eat a pizza with olives on it despite hating them to my very core.
There have also been times when I’ve felt I was going to perish and leave this mortal coil. Like the time backpacking in Canada when three bears (at least two) sniffed around my tent one night. But I was very, very brave.
There were also the many times I stayed at my Nan’s house with the central heating turned up to its maximum temperature, whilst having to watch Emmerdale. But I survived.
I’ve experienced many near-death experiences but the most recent one involved a ‘huge mountain’ in a place called Hua Hin, on the east coast of Thailand.
Calm Before The Storm
The day had started like any other day. The sun was shining, and I’d had a good sweat without doing anything active. I was staying in a place I can’t remember the name of. I don’t see why I should feel bad about that, I just find it hard to remember names. Names of places are not that important anyway. As my dad always says, ‘as long as you remember to wipe your arse in the morning, you’ll be alright. He isn’t a particularly wise man but I think he is on to something with that saying.
So, on this fateful day, a day that will be written about in history books I took myself off to Khao Ka Lok beach to try to do some hardcore relaxing. The sun was out so naturally I had my guns out and I forced myself to do some intense, no-holds-barred relaxing!
The setting was perfect, a near-empty beach, the sound of the waves gently lapping up and down the beach, the sun on my face and a slight breeze. So obviously I became restless.
Relaxing takes practice. I know that sounds odd to say that but it really does. When I look back I don’t think it really relaxed for about 17 years. Ok, I did sit around and do nothing for big, heroic periods of time but I wasn’t ‘relaxing’. If you don’t know the difference you probably need to relax more. I’ve now trained myself to relax properly but on this fateful day that will probably be made into a movie, I was ‘fidgety’.
To my right, I saw the jagged coastline stretch off into the distance but I also saw something that caught my attention. I saw a sign in the shape of an arrow pointing to something just out of my sight. My interest had been piqued.
A Fatefull Mistake
I wandered over to the sign and saw that it was pointing to some wooden steps leading high up the side of a huge mountain (ok, it was a hill…but a high hill!) This was enough encouragement for a brave hero such as myself needed. I was quickly on my way up the wooden staircase of doom.
The wooden steps soon gave way to the natural rock which despite heading upwards, (like all hills do unless you’re going in the opposite direction…that’s kind of how hills work) the climb was pretty straight forward. I reached the top in probably record time (I don’t know if there is a record for reaching the daunting peak but I feel I probably smashed it if there is one) and was greeted by the most wonderful view…
How’d ya like that? Not too shabby a view is it? Here’s the view the other side.
My legs were a bit wobbly from the climb and I was a bit dehydrated but I felt a moment of awe, surrounded by all of this natural beauty. After enjoying this wonderful view for roughly six and a half minutes I decided to make my way down again.
Descending Into Danger
On the way up I had come across little arrows painted onto the rocks at intermittent points which helped me find the safest route up and while looking around the summit I saw an arrow pointing towards the other side of the mountain (hill). This, I thought, was the way down so I decided to follow it…this was where things started to go wrong.
I can’t quite remember the exact moment I began to get a sinking feeling but when an arrow pointed directly off the side of the mountain (hill) and onto the ground some 4 or 500 feet below, I began to get a sense that this wasn’t going to be a gentle stroll down to the bottom. As the sweat began to seep out from under my hat and onto my back I realised I would have to find my own way down.
I headed to my left a while, looking for more arrows, then I turned back in the opposite direction in a vain attempt to find a clue as to which way was the correct way down. The route to the left led to a dead-end and to the right, the sheer drop. You can see my problem.
Should I Panic Yet?
After circling back and forth a few times a teeny, tiny sense of ever so mild panic flashed across my head. Is this how it ends I silently asked myself? Will the movie of my life have an unhappy ending or will the handsome hero win the day?
I quickly assessed the situation. I was on a mountain (really high hill!), in a foreign country, lost, with no phone signal, and no water. Sweat was pouring out onto my now cold skin, and incredibly inadequate clothing for a sleepover! There was nothing else to do but sit down and cry…or was there? Yes,there was…I could go back the way I came (see, clever as well as heroic).
The Tide Is My Enemy?
As I reached the summit again I didn’t spare a single glance at the view over the beach but seeing the sea again was a welcome sight. At least I was heading in a direction I knew. But then another thought struck my head. The beach and jagged rocks I’d climbed over at the start of this heroic adventure were very close to the sea. The question that popped into my head was, ‘what time does the tide come in?’
The thought of getting to the bottom only to find that I was stranded filled my head, my heart began to beat a little bit faster…I was getting the sense of mild panic…I was still being heroic, but in a slightly panicky way…
Dehydration was now kicking in and my legs almost buckled under me on more than one occasion. I’d been on this bloody mountain (REALLY HIGH HILL!!) for about an hour and a half which is almost 90 minutes!
My spirit stayed strong though. I gritted my teeth and soldiered on, bravely ignoring my sore calf muscles. I stubbonly ignored the huge 2 centimetre gash I’d suffered on a jagged piece of rock. As far as I could tell no blood was seeping out of my severe flesh wound but I could tell it wanted to gush out onto the rock; The rock that was trying to claim another victim.
A Heroic End
To cut a long story short I made it to the bottom. I found that the tide hadn’t moved an inch, so I drank some water and everything was fine again. But I will never forget how the monstrous mountain almost took the life of a real hero. I’m just happy I am here to tell my story and for it to be turned into a movie…
For more information on Hau Hin you can follow this link
If this white-knuckle ride of the day I almost died was too much for you, click the link for a more sedate post – The Top 6 Things You Must Do In Bangkok