Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"When breath becomes air"

I have been haunted by the book "When breath becomes air." No book has made me ponder about life and death that much. No book has left me in tears that much. I listened to it once. When i listened to it again, my eyes still got wet. Everyone has to face death at one point but some deaths are extremely cruel.

The book is a memoir of a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalannithi, who faced an early death from lung cancer.  Paul was a gifted resident at Stanford. He served as a chief of residency and got offered by the University of Wisconsin for a dream job as a head of neurology Department with a million dollar offered for his research when he was close to the end of his residency. Paul went through a long and painful journey to find the meaning of his life and embrace death, in particular when he transformed from a neurosurgeon into a dying patient with a very short time to live. Just right when he was about to graduate his residency to spread his wings, start his career out of training, and start a family with his wife, he got diagnosed with improbable lung cancer. Through his residency at Stanford, he learnt to face and accept the mortality when a disease was not curable.  He also had to face death of his gifted co-worker who committed suicide after a complicated case. However things were different when he had to face his own death. One day he was a doctor treating the dying one day and became a patient struggling to live the next day. Through his disease, he found the meaning of his life again. He followed his calling to be a neurosurgeon, and to continue saving patients through his sickness. He collapsed with exhaustion and pain from work at home every night but he stood up again the next day. He always referred back to his favorite quote "I can't go on. I'll go on" when needed.  The day he graduated from his program was the day he had to hang up his white coat forever. It was the last day he practiced medicine. It was the day he was about to die.

It was a long and brutal journey for him to get to the point in which he had to accept his death, and to eventually tell his wife that "he was ready." Ready to die. Paul died in 2015 at the age of 37 when his daughter was 8 months old. The book was completed posthumously.

 Paul bravely unpacked his life story to tell us how to live and how to die. Paul's story successfully tells me that time is infinite but limited to every one. Don't let it slip away. Make sure you know how to use your time meaningfully so you won't regret it later.
As the book says 'What happened to Paul is tragic but he is not a tragedy." Paul died but he left a legacy of love, inspiration, passion, and compassion.  His words continue to live on.

 "Life is not about avoiding suffering; It's about creating meaning".  

One day, I will gift Ryan this book!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The blossom of flowers tells me that spring is here already. It's been a very long winter with more rain and snow than how I remember of the last winter . Someday the sun comes out for a short time to tease us and then disappears immediately. However looking at sprouts coming out of the brown ground and flowers blooming makes me happy and and it emphasizes that life is always going on no matter how the brutal winter can be. No winter can last forever.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Chile in our eyes: Part 2: Punta Arenas and Penguins in Magdalena Island

After 12 hours of solid sleep, I was completely full of energy again. It is amazing how quickly our body can recover. Just a day ago, each of my steps was filled up with pain and tiredness. However I felt like I could run if the blisters on my pinky toes did not bother me.

Sightseeings in Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas is a port city and there are not many attractions here. The main reason for tourists coming here is to see penguins in Magdalena or go to Puerto Natales where they depart for Torres Del Pain. We are not an exception. After we signed up for a penguin tour for the next day, we decided to take the day easy. Also it was close to Christmas time, life went slowly in Punta Arenas.

We had a vague idea of what we should do for the day till Dan suggested to visit the cemetery. I immediately shot Dan a "what the heck you are talking" look and frown. Checking out a cemetery while backpacking is never of my interest. I only do it in Vietnam when I go to see the tombs of my grandparents and relatives. I was not convinced till Dan said that it's one of the most massive cemeteries in South America. Dan turned out right.  The park has a unique and lovely design. Rows of immaculately trimmed cypress trees welcome visitors right at the entrance.

Each inner path of the cemetery has a name. For example, this path is named Las Margritas. I joked with Dan that the reasoning of this name is to remind us that we still can enjoy Margritas in our afterlife.

Each path is lined up with two rows of cypress trees in both sides that look like giant chubby fingers

Interestingly like Vietnamese culture, people in the family/clan are burried in the same area and each family/clan has one chapel close/next to the front entrance

After cemetery, we followed the road to see the central market. Dan and I share the same hobby of checking local markets whenever we go to a new place. Both of us are curious on knowing what people eat and buy in the market. When Dan went to Vietnam, he insisted on going with my mom to the small street market next to my house where my mom goes shopping for food every morning. At that time, everyone, in particular kids, stared at him because it seemed that there have never been a white dude following a very short and chubby Vietnamese old lady (my mom) in the market.

We did not get lucky at the central market in Punta Arenas because most shops were closed due to weekend and being close holidays. We continued to wander around in the city. The city is going through urban sprawl with the mixed combination of new and old houses.

Also at the city, we were able to find funky cars like this

Or lockers hanging around somewhere


Punta Arenas is home to sea food . During our glacier hike, our tour guide said that Punta Arenas is a good place for sea food so that Dan and I tried to eat as much sea food as possible. Later on, we realized that most places we stopped during our trip are next to the coast too:(

Speaking of eating habit, in Chile in general, pan-bread-is served as an appetizer before any food is served. Just like in Mexican restaurants, chips are served right after you take your seat. I prefer pan to Mexican chips because pan is way much heathier. However the downside of it is I always ate too much pan and felt full by the time my food was ready :(. Dan, of course, was always excited to take over most of my portion all the time. Pan and its sauce can be different among regions. We never found the same pan sause in all places we ate.

Also, in Chile, people donot drink water during meal. Instead they drink soft drink. Coke and Pepsi are most popular. If you want to have water, you have to buy the entire bottle. Dan and I had to carry our bottle everywhere because in some restaurants, they completely donot serve water.

Dan enjoyed his pan and Coke:|. Dan barely has a coke in the States but he reasoned that in developing countries, "real" cane sugar  is used to make coke so that coke here tastes much better than in the states.I got a sip but found it has an ugly sweet taste like other cokes.

French fries is an alternative to rice in Chile. I think people prefer french fried to rice. I guess you can figure out which plate belonged to Dan and which one was mine:). After dating me, Dan is restricted to eat unhealthy food like french fries or drink unhealthy soft drink like coke. However during traveling, I usually relax my rule and Dan never forgets to take advantages of it.

We eneded up our day with seafood for dinner again at Mi Luna, a popular restaurant in town. I got ceviche while Dan got grilled salmon. I must confess that Ceviche in Peru is way much better.

The next morning, we took the boat operated by Turismo Comada to the Magdalena Island to see penguins, my most favorite animal. On the boat, we ran into Georgios, a Greek guy whom we met at Torres Del Paine. Three of us had an interesting conversation about differences in religion, history, culture, and etc among US, Greek, and Vietnam. Meeting other tourists and exchanging stories are no doubt my favorite part while traveling.

After a 1 hour boat, we arrived to the famous Magdalena Island, the Chile' largest penguin breed sites with over 100,000 magellanic penguins. The island is uninhabited and very raw with no tourist facilities (no stores, no lodging, and no food). In order to protect the ecosystem of the island, tourists are not allowed to bring any food, snack, or fruit to the island. Thousands of penguins make the island a spectacular sight with the softly undulating hills and the waves of the blue ocean. Penguins on this island migrate from Brazil for warm weather here. After staying here for several months to the end of summer, they swim back to Brazil

Seemingly those penguins are no stranger to tourists who are curious about them. It is easy to catch the sight in which penguins are crossing the street in the witness of watchers nearby

Another was about to cross the road

This guy kept growing curious about me. Whenever I moved my head, he moved his in the same direction

Some are bathing sun by themselves or with their kid. 

 On average, each couple of penguins has one child per year. However some have two like this dude. Its hard for me to distinguis penguin mom and dad. Theoretically, the dad has a slightly bigger size than the mom has but all penguins look the same to me

Male penguins have a very cute way to find their mate. Like humans, they try to make their nest very nice and physically appealing to attract female penguins. The penguin is famous for its monogamous practice. This guy was diggning out some grass and carrying it home to build his net

Also they use their unique sound to call for their mate. One do it by himself

Some do it in a group

This guy is luckier than others because he alreayd found his mate. 

Another also found the one who is looking at the same future direction with him

An hour flied  fast.The island gradually became smaller in our sight. Goodbye to the damn cute and clumsy penguins!!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chile in our eyes Part 1: Torres Del Paine and Glacier Trekking 2

Day 3
After 8 hours of sleep, I felt much refreshed in the morning. The pain and tiredness on my feet and shoulder were significantly reduced.  Dan shared the same feeling. Because of another day with 13 hours of hiking, we quickly had breakfast, packed our stuff, and headed out. The reason for starting it early is that we wanted to hike slowly today so that we could enjoy the view. We did not want to rush to our next destination like the day before.

Also because of the 13 hours of hiking, we had to let go of French valley even though it was supposed to be very beautiful there. However we were happy enough just to look at the breathtaking view right next to our campsite

Fueled by a good sleep and hot oatmeal for breakfast, we started our day energetically. The first 10 minutes of the trail was relatively easy and flat. Dan seemed very excited with his newly regained energy

I randomly turned around to find myself speechlessly gazing at the spectacular view behind our back

After the first 10 minutes, we began our "real" hike with up and down hills. The trail was amazingly beautiful with an unrivaled landscape of mountains on one side and lakes on the other side.

The majority of this part of the trail goes along impossibly blue lakes.  That day was very sunny so that the striking blue coloration of the lakes stood out

There were many little waterfalls as a result of melt ice from the top of the mountain along the hike. The best part of it is that it provided us water to drink along our hike so that we did not have to carry water with us at all. Following the recommendation of the Lonely Planet book, we purchased water purification tabs from REI that help kill microorganism in water to prevent cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and other borne disease. We first used it but the water tasted terrible like water from a swimming pool. Therefore, I told Dan that I prefer have diarrhea to use this tab. We decided to dump all purification tabs and drank water directly from waterfalls. Luckily both Dan and I did not have any problem with our stomach and digestion system.

Dan was filling up our bottle of water

 After 6 hours of hiking, I spotted a perfect place for lunch off the trail where we could peacefully enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake and mountain without being disturbed by noises caused by other hikers. I joked with Dan if he could make a poem for me. The first and last time Dan made a poem (that has 3 sentences) for me was when we started dating for a month meaning more than 4 years ago. Here is his haiku (5-7-5 rule)

Mountain standing still
Calm wind blows beautifully
Dsquare is happy
(Dsquare=Dan & Doan)

The strong sun kept us company along the hike. It helped us enjoy the blue coloration of the lakes but it also made our hike more struggling and tiring. After the first 8 hours, we started doing a lot of quick stops to gain our breath. Our backpacks seemed heavier. The pain of my feet and blister kept expanding to my brain.

 The entire part of trail did not have much shade so that the sun made us even more tired. We did not bring our hats with us. Actually Dan brought his hat but he could not remember where he kept it.  The scenary kept dramatically spaning from the vast openness of the steppe to rugged mountain. We even crossed a deserted pampas field. Dan tried to touch a brush of cucti and he was so exhausted that he almost fell into that brush. Good for him that it did not happen because I could not image its consequences.

The view still stayed face-slappingly stunning

There was a beautiful open-wide daisy field aong the hike. It was the last days of spring so that flowers still blossomed in the Pantagonian land.

Dan started whining that why we kept going up hills. While Dan prefers to go downhill , I enjoy going uphills more because going down hills always make my knees feel terrible. Thus whenever we hike, I always wait for Dan up to the top of the mountain while he always waits for me down at the bottom of the mountain. I tried to cheer Dan up by telling him that the uphill will end soon and we'll soon go downhill. However the downhill part was so short that before  we could feel it, the uphill already waited for us.

Though I love going uphill, I started getting tired and my breath became very heavy because of seemingly unlimited uphill and heat. Eventually we had a chance to really feel that we were going downhill when we got close to the next campsite

We got to the next campsite at 7p.m. While most people decided to stop here, we decided to keep trekking to another campsite, about 1.5 hours ago so that we could hike less the next day. The campsite we passed lies right next to a big stream falling down from the mountain

After 10 minute break, we resumed our trek. The sun was gone. The entire part of the trail to the next campsite was in the forest so that it had shades all along the way. I uttered in frustration that why when we needed the shades most, we did not see anything and once the sun is gone, now we have all the shades.

We hiked in silence. I broke the silence by telling Dan that I will make a haiku for him. During lunch, Dan asked me to make a haiku for him. However, I had never created a poem in my entire life and I was horrible at it so that I gave him a big grin as my nay saying. Therefore Dan seemed excited with my sudden gift to him. I read ALOUD, SLOWLY, AND EMPHATICALLY my haiku as a way to encourage both of us

"Pain, sweat, and fatigue.
Sun, wind, heat, snow, and strong rain.
We will make it through"

When I generated that haiku, I added the words snow and rain impromptu. We definitely did not expect that rain and snow did come to visit us right that night and the entire following day. In order to drive us away from our tiredness, I asked Dan to play a game in which Dan made the first sentence of the haiku and I produced the next one and so on..

We got to the next campsite at 9p.m. We thought we found a perfect camping spot next to the stream so that we could enjoy hearing the sound of the water. However life is not a dream and things are not always as beautiful as we think. We did not recognize that that perfect spot is a little bit steep. That night I could not sleep well and woke up so many times because I kept sliding down to the end of the tent. In the morning, Dan also complained about the same problem. Also under his spot, there was a pebble that he accidently hit on while turning around, hurting his back a little bit.

Day 4:

It rained heavily on that night. When I woke up at 6a.m, the rain was gone and the sun rose up. I joked with Dan that we got our MOST romantic night of sleep ever with the sound of water and the rain in the middle of forest and mountain and now we are enjoying the ray of early sunlight through the forest. My joy did not last for a long time. The sun quickly disappeared and the sky became very cloudy and gloomy again. The rain and fiece wind came fast followingly.

We decided to leave our stuff at our campsite and hiked up to the tower, called Torres Del paine that the park is named after. This part of the trail is very steep and it is all the way up hill. The trail is very rocky. The wind became more fierce. I prayed that the wind did not blow me off the trail. I am generally afraid of height and I know the worst thing in this moment was to loose our mental balance so that I tried not to glance at the steep side of mountain down next to me to stay calm .

The challenges were not over yet. When we got close to the top, it started snowing. Snow and wind tapped fiercely on my face. After almost 1 hour of hiking up, we got to the so called Torres Del Paine.

Torres means Tower and Paine means blue. The entire name means the towers of blue. Here is how it is supposed to look like in a beautiful day:
Souce: The internet

Here is what we actually saw in that day. The cloud entirely covered the three spikes.I murmured myself that at least we see the blue lagoon and we can image the granite spikes by ourselves. Probably the towers in our imagination might look way much more beautiful that they actually are.

 I took a photo of Dan for memory before we headed out.

We reached our campsite about 10a.m and we quickly packed our stuff under the rain. We started hiking very fast to make it to the  the shuttle station by 2p.m where we could take the shuttle to the bus station to get back to Puerto Natales. It rained heavily in the entire day. Our poncho was enough to cover the upper part of our body. My pants got wet. Our shoes and socks were soaked with water.

We had to hike all the way up in the part that we went down the day before. Dan asked me why we kept going up again,lol. After climbing up to the top, we hiked all the way down. My knees started whining a lot and my back started hurting terribly. My entire body yelled at my brain. On the bright side, at least the cold water from my socks helped numb the pain on my feet. I had to do many second stop to rest my back.

We held hands to hike up the last small hill. We went straight up to the top where we stopped, looked at each other, and started laughing and BREATHING heavily, and then dragged ourselves to where we tood the shuttle. We made it 10 minutes earlier and immerged ourselves in the crowd of other hikers who were waiting for the shuttle. We gave each other a lingering kiss at the end of the trail. I modified my haiku

"Pain, sweat, and fatigue.
Sun, wind, heat, snow, and strong rain.
We damn finished it"

We took the shuttle and the bus to Puerto Natales where we took another 3 hour bus to Punta Arenas, our next stop, with our wet clothes and stinky shoes and socks.

That night we slept straight 12 hours to recharge ourselves.

The hike was strenuous and we were tired mentally and physically but we were more than happy that we chose to do it.  We hiked slowly in some parts but we finished it. We did not see the tower but as a cliche goes, it is the journey that's important. We beat ourselves to push through the pain and beat the diverse weather ranging from windy, sunny, rainy, to snowy to finish it.  There were so many moments that I had doubt that we could make it but our will always beat our tired body:).  MORE IMPORTANTLY, we shared all happy, painful, exciting, and tiring moments together, encouraged, and took care of each other along the hike. We took turn to sing and dance in the most silly and nonsense way to entertain and to cheer us up when we wanted to give up. We got a big fight in the middle of frustration,tiredness, and misunderstanding but we solved it to keep moving on our journey and to enjoy it. I donnot think we could request a better honeymoon than that. We cannot wait to plan more hiking trip in Portland and other places. Later on, I suggested to do a long trek in another country at least once every 4-5 years and Dan could not agree with me more.


PS1: On the way from the park back to Puerto Natales, our bus was full and we had to sit down on the bus' floor because the bus driver did not allow anyone to stand. Since I was the only girl among the group who had to sit down on the floor, the bus driver spoke to me something in Spanish while checking the ticket of people. Dan translated to me that the bus driver told me that there is a vacant seat next to the bus driver and I can come to sit there. I told Dan to thank him for his kindness but I prefer to sit on the floor with Dan. Later, he found 2 vacant seats in another bus in the same system and we moved there where we could enjoy our nap on the way back. Life could not get better:)

PS 2: I got sunburnt during the hike so terribly that my nose still stands out very dark compared to my face and the skin on my arms is still peeling off by the time I am writing this entry, about 2 weeks since our hike

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chile in our eyes Part 1: Torres Del Paine and Glacier Trekking

The decision to go to Chile was made after many discussions . I have longed to go to Bolivia . However Dan already went there with his friends so that I have to save Bolivia for another trip. In addition to Bolivia, Chile was an alternative. After looking for a ticket for so long, we eventually found tickets that was not super expensive.

 Dan and I camped and hiked also many times before but we had never carried our own gear and food .  Thus I suggested to do it this time at Torres Del Paine so that it would become our new experience.  In order to save our time once we arrive there, we shopped most of our food for our 4 day hiking trip in Portland before we left. We bought more bread, deli meat, and lettute later once we arrived in Chile. We tried to pack as light as possible.

After more than 48 hours including two nights sleeping at the cold airport in LA and Santiago, Chile, we eventually got to Puerto Natales around 10.30 p.m where we will depart to Torres Del Paine the next morning. Most of stores and restaurants in this mountain town were closed. We got lucky to find a convinient store where we could buy food we needed Phewwww!!!!

 The trek we did there was the "W", one of the most popular routes in South America.

The lonely planet book recommends from East to West but we decided to do the opposite, from West to East. Our main reasoning for this is that we we wanted to do glacier trekking at Gracier Grey in the second day. I would risk no chance of missing it.

Day 1:
After 6 hours of sleep, we took the early morning bus at 7.30am from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine.
Afterwards, we got off the bus at PUDETO and took the RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE 30 minute boat (that cost us $36/ride/one person) across Lago Pehoe to get to Lodge Paine Grande where we started hiking at 1.30p.m. 

The first day went by with gloomy weather. It helped our hike . However the downside of it was that the blue color of the lakes along the hike did not stand out.

Somehow my shoulder already started hurting after some first kilometers. When we got to the place where we could have an overlook of the glacier, the wind started being very strong. For the first time in my life, I felt so fortunate to carry a heavy backpack because it reassured my confidence that the wind could not blow me away

During the hike, we passed by black and dead trees resulted from a fire in the forest a couple of years ago

After 5 hours of hiking, we made it to Refugio Grey camp site at around 6p.m, unloaded, set up our tent, and cooked our dinner (including instant noodles, canned salmon, and some fresh lettude).

We also walked to Big Foot Base Capm where we registed for the glacier trekking tour in the next morning. The first day went by quite peacefully and we quickly fell into sleep to get ready for the second day that is supposed to be a long day with about 13 hours of hiking.

Day 2:
We got up at 6a.m to prepare our breakfast and then quickly grabbed our stuff for our glacier trekking trip that started at 7:30a.m.

When we got to the office of Big Foot Base Camp, they told us that they have to push the trip back to 9a.m because the boat from Puerto Natales was broken. Dan and i first did not have any problem. 

However things did not go as it was supposed to be. About 15 minutes later, the manager of the tour told us that they might have to cancel the trip because the boat leaving from Puerto Natales is still broken. I started raising my doubt because I clearly remembered that the manager told us that we picked up the passengers on the cruise to join us instead of using their boat. 

I told Dan about my doubt about something fishy going on here rather than the fact of the broken cruise. Then I asked him to carefully overhear their conversation in Spanish. Unfortunately people there were not aware that Dan could understand Spanish so that they started loudly talking about their problem. It turned out that they wanted to combine Dan and I with another group on the cruise. However the cruise was canceled so that the trip with the people on the cruise might have been canceled. They thought it was not worth of taking only two people to the glacier. 

After Dan's translation, I could feel my face started getting hot. However we tried to stay silent to see what they wanted to do. As expected, the manager came to tell us that they have to cancel our trip because of "technical" problem. After my series of questions about their "technical problem", the guys there still indirectly refered to technical problems with the boat from Puerto Natales. Their lie hit the boiling point and I started yelling at their face for not treating their customer right. I barely yell at anyone but when I do, I really do it. After a long argument, I told them that if they want to cancel our trip, they will have to pay us cancelation fees. To that point, they agreed to take us to the the glacier. Damn it. If it was not the only company that operated the trip, I would never do the tour with them.

After a rocky start with the company, at 8a.m we eventually left for our glacier trek. Their boat picked us up and dropped us at the bottom of the mountain where we hiked up to get close to the glacier. On the positive side, at least we got an awesome tour guide who shared with us a lot about Chile and Rock climbing. He recently started working for the company.

The glacier came into view from our boat. The glacier is estimated to have the length of 28 kilometers and a total area of 270 square kilometers, starting in the Patagonian Andes Mountains to the west and terminate into Grey lake, what we are seeing. It owns a striking blue coloration caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light and leaving light at the blue end of the visibal light spectrum. 

After almost 1 hour hiking up, we got close to the glacier where we strapped crampons onto our shoes, put the helmet on, and started hiking into glacier

 The site really became more amazing when we walked on it, saw, and felt its solid texture. 

We were completely blown away by its unique blue beauty. We did get some meltwater there to drink. 

Those holes in the glacier are the results of trapped rocks that absorb sunlight, melting ice around it.

Ice crystals inside glacier water

I was trying to walk down to a little stream in the glacier with the aid of our tour guide who held me with him through a rope

We lost ourself in the glacier for about 4 hours. I tried to run with crampons on to see how it felt. 

On the way down

Glacier is lying down on the top of the mountain

On the way back, we were randomly "visisted" by a "dude" who is seperate from his "big mama" and freely floating on the lake

 We got back to the Big Foot Camp Base around 3p.m. Couldnot believe that 8 hours flied by so fast. The tour was overpriced but it was totally worth it. Glacier trekking became no doubt one of the highlights of our trip.

However our joy was quickly gloomed by our 8 hour hiking ahead. At the Big Foot Base Camp,I still kept my very cold face to the manager till he officially apolosized us for what they did in the morning. Given our awesome tour guide, I accepted his apology, gave him a big smile, and then we quickly headed out to our next campt site.

I tried to capture the last view of the glacier before we were back on our trek

on the way back to Lodge Paine Grande

The trekking quickly became much more streneous and exhausting than we expected. My shoulder hurt and blisters appeared all over on my feet. Having blisters while running or hiking is one of my worst feelings. Every step I put down, the pain was expanding to my brain. Dan was not in a better situation. later after 7p.m, the weather stopped favoring us with strong wind and rain. We did not have any alternative option. We had to make it to the next campsite by all means despite how much tired we were . Knowing that but there were many moments, all what I wanted was just to lay down on the road and forget about our hike. We stopped many times because my painful feet and Dan's back.

I thought of what Erik WeiHenmayer, a blind guy who succesfully climbed Everest, said " Some limits were real but many more limits were conceived and imposed in my mind and there was a torturous beauty in crossing them."  Then I thought how I tried hard to push myself to finish the marathon 2 weeks ago with all blisters on my toes. I thought of pure happiness once we push through the pain. I felt energized again. I tried to hupnotize myself onto each of my step instead of thinking of pain and giving up. I tried to encourage Dan that if a blind guy could climb Everest, we should be able to make it at least to the next camp site.

The strong wind and rain kept us company for almost 2 hours. Those hours, in no way, could be describd as fun. Instead, it was miserable for us but we knew that it would make our honeymoon memorable for the rest of our life and the beauty of us getting over our limit.

I eventually found some tree branches that could be served as our hiking sticks. I banged the stick to the ground strongly at each of my steps to release my frustration, madness, and exhaust.  I barely curse in both English and Vietnamese. However at that time, I kept cursing whenever I banged the stick to the ground. Actually it did help me a lot to escape my pain. Little by little, my mind was floating with the sound the stick made on the ground instead of thinking of my pain. Dan also later told me that the sound from my stick helped him too.  He moved his legs according to the sound from my stick and tried not to think of exhaust and pain.

 I had no doubt that Dan felt worse than I did. Dan can beat me at a high-intensity workout but I can beat him at endurance. Also I still had endurance from training for the marathon.

We reached our camptsite at 9:45 p.m, 10 minutes before darkness came. 14 hour hiking that day. My tears almost came out when I saw the camp site. We kissed each other for the huge effort we made.

We quickly set up our tent on the last light of the day. We were so exhausted that we could not afford to put our shoes on to eat outside. We made sandwiches with salami and lettude inside our tent, finished our meal in 5 minutes, and quickly collapsed into our sleeping bag without brushing our teeth or washing our hands. so gross, I know :|

Darkness covered us. Mountains were silent. Only the wind was whispering with the trees. We passed out the second we laid down. My entire body was whining. We were more exhausted than we had ever been but I was happy that we pushed it through the pain to make it.