Last week, while I was thinking about going somewhere at the weekend to relax after endless working weeks, I received a message of a friend saying she wanted to go hiking. And of course, I said yes right away. After searching on the Internet, we decided to hike at Ham Lon Mountain on Saturday.
Mt. Ham Lon (or literally translated in English as Pig Jaw), which is located in Soc Son Town, is 40 km away from the central of Hanoi. With 462 meters in height, it is the tallest peak in Hanoi and considered as “the rooftop of the capital”. We got there after 1.5 hours riding motorbike and had already been sweaty since it was extremely hot on at day.
Before going, we did search ways to get to the top and it said there were two options. The first one is a simple path with little bushes while the other one, which is alongside a stream, is tougher with lots of boulders and cliffs. And the latter can take 4 hours to get to the summit compared to 2 – 3 hours of the former. We excitedly headed to a pine forest to start hiking. The path was freaking steep and slippery due to a huge amount of fallen pine leaves although it was not in rainy season. We climbed very carefully so as not to fall down. Then we saw a road after getting out of the forest. We kept walking back and forth along the road to find the way to go next and ended up getting stuck at a stream. It was not until we phoned a local for help that we knew we were on the wrong track and needed to get back to the starting point. While heading back to the start, we rested in the middle of the pine forest and had some snack. It was precious moments that we could sit down and witness the peacefully stunning beauty of the forest. We also had beautiful chats about our time in Japan, including places and events we went together. All great memories were brought back!
To be honest, we had thought about not continuing to climb while being in the forest since we were half wet, stinky and tired. However, when we got out of the forest and walked around the nearby lake, we found a path with a sign saying “Way to Ham Lon Peak”. Our hope came back so we decided to give it a try. Then we followed the trail till we met a junction at the end with two opposite directions. After a few minutes being confused, we chose the left one which was rockier. We (once again) excitedly climbed non – stop without recognizing that we bumped into the harder one among the two I have written above. The more we climbed, the tougher and steeper the rocks were. Questioning the chosen way, we called the local again to ask if we were off map. Having told that we were on the right track but it would take 3 – 4 hours to be up to the top on this route (while we were both exhausted), we officially gave up and headed off to the town.
On the way back to the city, we stopped by West Lake to get chilled for a while with a huge coconut ice – cream retreat. I don’t have a sweet tooth but that coconut ice – cream really hit the spot. It re-energized me. It saved my life (not exaggerating at all)!
That day was ridiculously hilarious. It is not because my friend and I have no hiking experience since we have hiked either in Vietnam or in foreign countries before but all out attempts to get to the top failed this time. The reason might be our underestimation of the mountain. It was tougher than I thought, even tougher than the one I hiked in Korea. I have realized hiking is definitely not an easy work as it requires strength, persistence, determination and patience. Simple but important lesson, isn’t it? But on top of that, we had a quality time together and I finally escaped from the town to get me some nature, which I had desired for long. Not an epic day but an obvious day to remember!