WRITTEN BY SANDRA
After a short stop in Hongkong, where we do some cheap shopping for a new Skylotec climbing rope and a pair of 5.10 climbing shoes and where we ate the Hong Kong famous Dim Sum we fly to Bangkok, Thailand. A piece of my tooth broke off in China and needs to be fixed. Luckily the medical care in Thailand is known for it's expertise so after a week the tooth is repaired and we are set to go. We are going for ten days to Nam Pha Pa Yai Camp about 150 km north of Bangkok, close to Khaeng Khoi in Saraburi provence. It is conviently accessible by train and bus!
After a long train ride we arrive in Khaeng Khoi so we ask locals where the bus is going to the Nam Pha Pa Yai camp. Nobody seems to know, but there is one bus going out of town, and they explain to us with hand and feet and a lot of smiling where we should go. At the busstop there is a friendly schoolgirl that helps us out and writes for us something in Thai to show to the busdriver. While we are waiting for the bus, a car stops in front of us and a woman steps out of the car. With a gentle voice she asks us in fluent english where we are going "You must be lost!" We explain where we want to go, she looks on the internet, makes a phonecall, and then tells us we are on the right way. Very reassuring! I guess they don't see a lot of foreigners here! :) The bus arrives, and when the driver tells us it's our stop and we get out of the bus, we are not sure where we are. We are standing on an intersection and there are no signs or houses or people to guide the way. Just when we decide to start walking, another car stops with a friendly Thai couple. "Are you lost? Where are you going?" They had seen us on the road looking all confused and decided to make a turn to ask us if we needed help. They offer to give us a ride to the camp. As we load all our luggage in the car another woman on a motorcycle stops and asks where we are going. We are just amazed how helpfull everybody here is. She calls Ben, the owner of the camp to come to pick us up. 15 minutes later we arrive at the camp.
Nam Pha Pa Yai camp is a little gem in the middle of the Thai jungle. This ecological camp is owned by Ben and his wife Joy. Ben used to work in rope access in France, and build this camp all by himself. We are staying in the tree hut. It is a little cabin that hangs in the trees. It is the most cool place to sleep, since it is pretty hot here. It is also the home of a gecko that loves to shout in the middle of the night "GECKO!!!!" in the nice accoustics of the aluminium roof we sleep under. It is the only noise here, but pretty loud. It breaks up our sleep, but since he was here before us, we adopt him as our pet.
Every morning Joy makes us the most amazing breakfast with omelets, homemade bread, coffee and fruit. She also makes great lunches and dinner. The first night we arrived we even got homemade pizza. They try to have a self sustainable way of living, so they grow their own fruit and vegetables, and use only electricity of light panels. So Joy often cooks her delicious dinners with the help of a headlamp. Ben does not want power lines coming to the camp because he does not want to ruin the beautiful landscape, so electricity is in scarce supply but we only need it anyway to charge cameras and phones once in a while.
One of the great benifits of staying at Nam Pha Pa Yai is the close proximity of the rocks and the way you get to the crag. Instead of a long steep hike up a mountain, the way to access the climbing area here is by walking through the fruit garden of the camp and then ziplining across the river. An activity you would normally pay for, is here a way of accessing the climbing! Needless to say, the first time we zip line up and down ten times just for fun!
From the zip line you have a perfect view on the rocks, long and slightly overhanging limestone. The routes here are more of a technical nature. Small holds, vertical to slightly overhanging and Ben grades them old-school French so the grades are a bit stiffer than in Tonsai/Raylee or Chiang-Mai.
Ben convieniently hangs the latest topo always at the base of the cliff so the information on the routes is easily accessible. Some of the high lights of the routes we climbed are Sweet Lip 6c+, a gorgeous long tufa pincher, Stop Monsanto 7c+ a long and technical masterpiece and Jungle's Thai 7b+ another gorgeous route.
For more information, please see Nam Pha Pa Yai's facebook page.