All Smile, No Fear?

Happy Camper 9:00 PM
Look at that innocent smile; the smile of a champion; the smile that says I can conquer this. If I could go back in time, I would slap that gorgeous face and say you dumb-ass

9:20 PM
I guess our very first camping exercise at Shi Shi Beach started 0.5 mile earlier than I expected. We were flooded with confidence about this trip as we carried all our camping essentials from the parking lot to the trail-head.

Travel Tip #1: Do not park your car overnight at the trail-head; it is a frequent spot for break-ins. There are 2 private parking lots 0.5 miles before the trail-head, and you can pay $20 to park overnight.

9:40 PM
The beginning of the darkest and longest night

9:41 PM
We have officially entered the jungle, the sky got gloomier, and the trees grew taller. We were surrounded by dark green and light blue grey. The space got quite, and all we could hear were our heartbeats, heavy breathing and nervous chats.

No hands left
Sleeping bag on the right, pillow on the left, small pack in the front, night pack on the back, and a tiny flashlight dangling on the left pinky. We were the queens of multitasking. With no hands left, we could really turn out like this

But for some reasons we were the luck ones. Without hesitation, we marched on with joy and excitement.

Lights on
The sky started to blur into the land. I could barely see the outlines of the trees. Our tiny flashlights were the only things guiding us to victory. Undetectably, the trail started to disappear into the night, and we were slowly blending into the background.
We would occasionally see other hikers going the opposite way, and they were very much in a rush. Now looking back I know why. They were rushing back to home, to a warm bed, socks and meal. And there we were, the struggle was real up in herrre!

I Can’t Do This
A little fear of the dark started to creep in. Our steps became smaller but frequent.
Roads were thin, blurry and muddy.

“It cannot get worth than this,” I said. That was the first time I thought of this, and oh boy was I very and horribly wrong about this place.

We saw a huge dead tree in the middle of the path, it had a couple of branches stretching out and blocking majority of the road. The only way to get over this is to lean the body forward to a 90-degree angle; half bent knees combine with a half squat, and then slowly slide horizontally across underneath the tree.
I stood there examining the scene. Wishing I had done more yoga to prep for this.
After what it seems like endless miles of hike, the heavy backpacks were digging into my shoulders, and my fingers started to shake from holding on to all the craps. I was tired, thirsty and sweaty, and this tree finally pushed me over my limits.

The thought finally popped in – “I can’t do this”

Breaking Back
You see the longer I stood there, the longer it will take me to reach the beach and forget whatever just happened to me. Aint nobody got time for procrastination here.
However, my night pack was obviously in the way.

Don’t Be Like Me Tip #1: If your huge backpacks are in the way for any future advancement on a hike. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TAKE IT OFF!

I guess with the exhaustion, my body decided to not flow any blood into my head to think properly like a human. Without thinking I decided to bend my body while carrying the backpack. The backpacks and I were ONE.
With my gal pal (AKA The Squater) pushing on my backpack like she was about to pop a baby out of me, I cringed my teeth, bent my knees just enough to move, and slowly made my way cross this unnecessary tree challenge this place had offered.

Geographically Illiterate
I am feeling like Tarzan except I can’t clime trees, or haunt for food, or have long hair. But you get the point.
I was on the haunt. My eyes were wide, bright and sharp. You know the eyes of a slightly desperate and a very crazy person. Yeah that was me.
All my senses were elevated. As I scan the land, I channeled my ancestors’ sense of smell, sound, light and wind direction (yes I licked my finger and put it up in the air like a BOSS).

“I felt a light ocean-salty-smell breeze passing by gently across my face. I could hear the waves somewhere in THAT direction. I guess we are close!!!”
I said that statement for about 20 times in the next 2 hours.

Quick sand much?
Just Pure Darkness All Around.
We could barely see anything with the weak flashlights. “Good thing I packed an emergency light” I recalled that very essential item in my backpacks. However, due to my luck level at this point, it was reasonable to assume something will definitely go wrong. Oh yeah did I tell you all 4 batteries for the light were dead.

Due to the laziness, I decided to hang the light around me neck like a cowbell. Basically my back said to the neck: “Brrrha, I can’t do this anymore, you should take it over from here.” Again, really not much thinking going on at this point, my thoughts were equivalent to a toddler.

We hit some small muddy spots along the way, and as we progress further, these spots turned from ducky pools into full-grown pig ponds (I am talking about you can have 4 free ranged, adult sized pigs living there comfortably).
There were tree branches and stones in place to help people cross these areas. But because my derpy life is full of surprises, I accidentally stepped into a deep mud spot. As I try to pull my leg out, I felt this suction force grabbing my shoe like an unwanted and creepy hand trying to take my shoe off. “I don’t need a butler at this moment!” I said while trying to shake off the mud. I got mud all over and in my shoes and socks like the way chocolate perfectly hug around a strawberry.

I do have to say I was very proud of my physical endurance. Picturing me in the dark, carrying all these things while playing Hot Lava and performing on the balance beam. Oh and also try not to lose my shoes.
At this point, my standards for getting through this place lowered from “oh lets not get our shoes wet”, to “oh lets try not to loose our shoes”, to “oh well, as long as I don’t plant my beautiful face in this, I could care less”.

Reliving the night is quite exhausting. I am going to take a nap and BRB with the rest of the story. In the mean time, check out my travel xinanigans~

Until Next Time:
Is there a dead man around here?
Lights, Cameras and Chinese People?
The slope to the down down down
The morning after