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Children : (2 - 11 Ys.)
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5, 6 & 12 Nights
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6, 9 & 12 Nights
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Climb Koh Yao Noi

Ann kicked off his flip-flops, then solo climbed straight up the rock face. “Come on, Simon, the view from up here is great” he said.

I looked up at the rock-face, then down at the rocks far below, then back up the route Ann had climbed. OK, it was easy climbing, but what if I slipped? What if a hand-hold broke off? No, I decided, I wasn’t going up there without a rope.

Ann is an ex-bird’s-nester. These guys do one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, scampering up rickety bamboo trellises in order to collect valuable birds’ nests from caves hundreds of feet up precipitous rock-faces. Every year some of them die doing so. They are used to climbing with no protection, but I’m not. I shouted “No thanks, I’m not doing it, I’d prefer to live to write again”.

Ann must have been a bit disappointed but, being Thai, he didn’t show it. We were on a day out to the rock-faces of Koh Yao Noi in order to find a way to get to the very top of one of the karst rock-faces, without doing any climbing that was any harder than very easy. The idea is to start a new day-trip for next high season where people can get to go somewhere truly stunning, without any prior rock-climbing skill or particularly great strength or fitness. We’ll go back again to try to find an easy route to the top, but next time we’ll take ropes.

I’m not sure if the tour is going to be possible though, as the route to the top entails trekking up through a narrow gorge in the rock, the bottom of which is filled with leaves and earth. Whilst it’s a dirty and messy trek, that could be fixed. The real problem is that we don’t know what’s underneath the leaves and earth underfoot. Ann went first, but this was no comfort, as I weigh about 20 kg more than him. At any moment I feared the leaves and dirt would give way, plunging me into a hidden cavern below. We could make it safe by bolting a safety line to the rock-face, but it’s quite a big job, so will probably have to wait. Stop press Feb 2014, we took a private group to the top of this mountain, and they had a whale of a time.


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