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This time, I almost got bit by a bat...I think

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yes, the animal adventures continue. This time, I think I was almost bitten, and I think it was a bat. Here's how it goes...

Carl and I returned to the Crazy Horse Buttress crag for the third time in our Chiang Mai stays, this time again with Viv and with newcomers Aaron and Ben. We rented a car, successfully navigated our way out there, and had a great morning of climbing. Viv did her first lead ever (and did it quite well, I may add. Yay Viv!), and Aaron and Ben both learned quickly on both the belay and climbing side.

We went to lunch at the local spot (delicious, once again), and when we returned to the crag decided we were too full to climb right away, so we did some exploring. While searching for a local troupe of monkeys, we happened upon our first cool discovery: a monk hill camp, complete with monk hard at work (we left him undisturbed) (we never found the monkeys unfortunately).

Next we explored Aircon cave: a giant cavern that according to the book rises 80m above the floor! (It was very dark, difficult to verify the height). Then we returned to the wall, did one quick warm-up climb prior to the next chosen adventure: a new route up the inside of a big archway. As I descended from the warm-up, however, we noticed incredibly black storm clouds rolling in. At first glance, it seemed like we would likely get rain within the hour; 2 minutes later, it was clear it was going to be much faster than that; 5 minutes later we were huddled inside the archway marveling at the galeforce winds that were suddenly whipping through the area; 5 minutes later we were in a torrential downpour. Crazy!

We dashed back to one of the bamboo huts to see if it was going to blow through. Other than watching in awe the force of the sudden storm, the excitement there was when a giant (5-6 inches long) toad hopped up beside me. We named him Solomon (arbitrarily), and after a dramatic initial entrance, he just watched us.

The rain was relentless for about 20 minutes and then started to let up. Carl and I went to check out the archway and found it dry! So, we proceeded with the plan. Carl led the climb quite competently considering we had no route map and the light was weak with lingering storm effects. Aaron went next and for a first-ish day climbing did an awesome job. Viv then followed, and also did a great job, making it through the first 2 cruxes of the climb. In doing so, however, she had the first "bat" encounter: about 12 feet off the ground, suddenly snatched her hand back with a yelp (not falling, she would like me to note), saying that "something's in there!" We chuckled and encouraged her to forge on without using that pocket.

My turn next. I got to the same pocket, and, knowing there was someone at home, but knowing I needed the hold, I inserted just the first two "pads" (to the first knuckle) of two fingers into the pocket. Despite my care, I was immediately barked at (BAKKAW!!!!), loudly enough that everyone below heard loud and clear. Our best guess is a bat, though we never saw it. It was certainly a noise I have never heard before, with a meaning all too clear. (Footnote: I recognize that it wasn't as close to a bite as the monkey bite was, but the repeated close encounters beg for a tad of hyperbole). In the fading light, I finished the climb, which was "way cool". Aaron took pictures - hope to upload those soon.

Such great adventures! Chiang Mai has been a definite highlight so far....

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 12, 2007 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Joc's Journeys
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Wow!! Freaky! Glad all hands and limbs are in one piece. The Crazy Horse Buttress is definitely full of interesting wildlife. FYI, when we were there on Monday, I got what I thought was a large mosquito bite on my arm. It has now morphed into a bizzare collection of bumps/blisters about 1" in diameter. Hmm... spider bite?? -j-mac

permalink written by  Jennie on June 14, 2007

I'm enjoying hearing about the wildlife and all your adventures! "Soloman" is a great name for a toad-- Chrissy McC

permalink written by  Chrissy McConaghy on June 17, 2007

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