Rock on

Ton Sai Travel Blog

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Tonsai was my most anticipated stop on my entire ten month journey.  With more than 450 bolted routes, it is the biggest rock climbing mecca on the planet.  To put that in perspective I was averaging about five or six routes a day so you could climb for every day for about three months without ever doing the same route twice.  17 of 20 days on the rock did a number on my hands.  My fingertips peeled off twice during that time and as I am currently punching the the keys with numb fingers I know they will come off at least one more time.

The days at Tonsai blended together.  Everyday I woke up around 10:00, went to Wee's for the best fruit salad with muesli and yogurt in town with whoever I was climbing with that day, embarked on a treacherously steep adventure to one of the many walls to choose from, sweat out four liters on the wall, stopped for a Signah on the beach for sunset, went for a cold shower and a quick meal, and finally went to the appropriately named chill out bar to star gaze and chat up girls from around the world.
  Life could be a lot worse.

Throughout my rather lengthly stay I met up with several people from previous travels.  I showed up with Brenden and took him out climbing one day before he went to Vietnam.  I met Jen and Lee from Ottawa who I climbed with in Laos.  I randomly met up with Dominic once again.  I also met a large group of climbers from my home city of Saskatoon which was cool.  There were a lot of Canadians in the area, a way higher percentage than I had seen anywhere.  But the most strange meeting was with Julian who I had not seen since October in Southern Brazil.  I didn't even know he was going to Asia.

My favorite spot was the Eagle wall.  I did not discover it until near the end of my stay.
  Becks, the beautiful Scottish dive instructor, showed me the way around the peninsula during low tide.  I felt like I walked into Jurassic Park as I walked off the tiny secluded beach into the airy giant fern fill jungle.  The site was awesome and the long climbs were even better.  I led the famous 32 meter Spiderman which was a marathon.  I was pretty scared at the last bolt before the anchor when I realized that I used all twelve of my draws even though the book said I would only need eleven.  Scared but confident, I had to climb past the last bolt and daisy chain straight to the anchor.  If I fell at the top I would have come down about 12 meters.  Five climbs later it was time to head home.  It took us 40 minutes to give up on our long-tail ride that we had sent up in the morning.
  The tide was getting higher and the light was getting dimmer so we had to make a move.  I was like a flip-flopped soldier holding my gear about my head as we treaded thought the neck deep ocean whose floor was covered in razor sharp rock.  I was surprised to make it around the corner with nothing more than a couple small toe punctures.  While in waist deep water I though I was in the clear but then I hit a knee high rock hidden in the murky water.  The tide pushed we over the rock like a high school bully and his mischievous buddy on hands and knees.  My legs were slashed and my gear was soaked.  Getting to and from the climbing walls were often the most dangerous parts of the days.

Deep water solo climbing is when you climb on a face hanging over a body of water with no ropes.
  When you fall you fall in the ocean.  I went for a day trip to chicken island to experience this next level of the sport.  It was difficult because my hands were wet and you don't get any chalk.  As everyone does, I stuck to much easier climbs than I would have usually done because I did not want to do a belly flop from 12 meters.  The highest I jumped from was about that but some of the guides climbed up to 25 meters.  That was just crazy.

The rainy season seemed to be coming early and we started getting about an hour of rain more days than not.  Most of the time it came at night so it didn't affect the climbing.  The Monkey wall is the most difficult to get to of any of the areas I went to.
  It is a very steep walk which requires significant trust in the ropes provided.  Some parts seem like they should be graded routes but we climb up in flip flops with no protection.  It is called the Monkey wall because there are a lot of Monkeys there.  That sounds cute but it is not so much fun when then become territorial and sling shit at you when you are leading a hard route.  They also like to take bags and climb up a tree and throw its contents back down at you.  One day at the Monkey wall we got rained out while I was leading.  Becks had broken her flip flop and had to go barefoot down the nearly vertical face made up of jagged rocks as slippers mud.  And of course it was dark.  It was slow going but we made it out unscathed.


One of my general traveling rules is to never go back to the same place twice no matter how much I like it because there are so many other places to experience for the first time.  The lure of friendly chilled beach atmosphere combined with one of my passion sports trumped that rule and upon departure I vowed to return.
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Ton Sai
photo by: razorriome