Pine Forest (Phu Soi Dao Day 2)

Distinct voices coming from different directions woke me up in the morning. With sore calves, I tried to stretch but couldn’t. I was trembling in this low temperature and since my tent was too big for me, it could hold more freezing air making me shiver even more. I need coffee! 

After cooking our breakfast made of noodles, berry rice, and chicken in a tetra pack, we changed into our sports clothes and decided to climb the summit. There were rangers in the camping ground to look after all the campers and one of them informed us that the peak of the mountain next to the campsite is closed during heavy downpour and would reopen from November to January when the ground is dry. This is because the trails are so steep that you’ll merely rely on ropes and it’ll be hard to find a grip when everything’s slippery. Too bad that we couldn’t reach the highest point as well as the border to Laos, we decided to explore the surroundings instead. 

We rapturously reconnoitred every cliffs and turns, singing songs and laughing our hearts out along the way, until we reached the area where wild flowers grow. Then, I was stunned. As far as my eyes can see, there grows yellow, blue, pink, lavender, and red flowers, plants with lilac leaves, and hazel lovegrasses. They were thriving underneath the pine trees and others with pale leaves that I couldn’t name. I stepped closer to see purple buds sitting on twigs like little amethyst crowns. One of them was covered by a dewdrop waiting for the wind to blow so it could drip down the grassy land. On my left is a little pink flower directly hit by the sunrays making it stand out a little more from its lush surroundings. Like a child, I ran in the wild and then stopped because a few feet away lie yellow wildflowers. Their joyful colours stirred remarkable warmth to a weary soul and I couldn’t help but take a deep breath. Inhale, exhale. Emptying my lungs and filling it up again with the cleanest air I’d ever felt for a while. 

I stood momentarily, carried away by the sight, and these plants were swaying to the tune of the wind as if summoning me to join them; their combination of hues created a pleasant scene to the eyes and I didn’t want to leave. I looked up and saw pine trees towering over us, making us feel like David standing against Goliath. Yet, at the same time making us feel mighty for conquering the world just by being there. Beyond the trees were fluffy clouds dancing in the clear cerulean sky which made the place even more ethereal. And as dramatic as I am, all I whispered was, “It’s so beautiful. Thank you.” 

After we ate dinner, we decided to stay up a little late. The whistling wind sent chills to the bones, demanding everyone to stay inside our tents and slip into our sleeping bags so to speak. Thick fogs covered the sky making the vicinity pitch black but it didn’t stop the curious. As though called by Selene, stars answered the call and started sparkling, illuminating us. Carrying my camping lamp, we headed to the flower field and started taking photos, hoping we could share a glimpse of our own little paradise with you. 

Following our little photoshoot, we spinned around to go back to the tent city. However, I decided to turn off the lamp and stand for a while admiring the campsite from afar. Fog was beginning to cover the sky again, refusing all the stars to twinkle but left the northern star to shine in its glory. Under the pine trees, lights from different bivouacs, the campfire, and tiny fairy lights hanging outside some campers’ tents were gleaming in the darkness, making it glow in different colours – purple, blue, red, and green. Lovely! In the distance, a flashlight beam can be seen from other campers who decided to explore the night just like us. We went back to our tents light-heartedly even when the cold started to become unforgiving, and then called it a night. 

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