This weekend saw me get my adventure on and head to the very un-open waters of the Hoa Phu Thanh river in an inflatable dingy.
Having never done white water rafting before, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I’d seen a few photos and videos of these kind of things in the past, but Vietnam has a tendency to oversell things slightly, so I wasn’t sure this would be the wild ride promised, or it was more likely to be a lazy river style trip.
We headed out early, and drove about an hour and a half, on some very bumpy roads, out of Danang. Once we arrived there was a little time before the next boat trip, so we got to go on the zip line. This I had done before, and is always a lot of fun, so I willingly shimmied into the highly flattering harness and got clipped onto the wire.
The ride was brief but showed off some lovely views over the river we would soon be on. Before I knew it I was coming to an abrupt halt at the end of the line, and it was on to the next adventure.
We donned our life jackets and helmets and joined the surprisingly large crowd of Vietnamese people who had gathered alarmingly quickly. The safety demonstration was in Vietnamese, so there was a lot of miming to interpret, and after about 10 minutes we were ready to get water-born.
It was two to a boat, so me and Chloe paired up and clambered into the boat at the top of a worryingly steep ramp. The splash as we entered the water was bigger than expected and set the tone for the rest of the journey – we were going to get very wet.
Boat by boat everyone got into the water, and as the swarm of boats grew, so did the excitement among the Vietnamese rafters. To our left a water fight had broken out, accompanied by a chorus of squeals, to our right someone had taken their helmet off and was using it as a paddle. A few boats were attempting to lessen the pool of water that had gathered in the bottom of the boat (unfruitfully so, as this was actually the boat design) and shockingly, a man ahead of us had lit a cigarette and was puffing away while he paddled around. It can only be described as joyful chaos, and it was one of those moments that really summed up my time in Vietnam.
Once everyone was ready they started releasing boats onto the ‘white water rapids’and I was thrilled (and mildly terrified) to realise this had not been over sold – this was no lazy river.
Luckily we didn’t upturn, but we were thrown left and right, spun around, tugged along by the current, down steep drops and around rocks. It was so much fun, and we couldn’t help but join our Vietnamese counterparts in screaming and gasping our way down.
There were a few bruises and accidental kicks to each other, but the hour we spent making our way down the river was punctuated with laughter and adrenalin.
Just like the other boats, multiple times we got wedged into a corner, the water unable to shift us, which fostered an environment of everyone helping other boats to get out of their predicament – despite the language barrier everyone was helping each other, and it was so much fun!
We did have one small incident, stuck into the bank, far away from other rafts, that took a little more manoeuvring to escape, but in clumsy and ungraceful fashion we managed to free the raft, duck under the trees and resume the route.
This was hugely fun activity that was really reasonably priced (250K, £8) and I would recommend it to anyone who asked. This was one of may favourite days in Vietnam so far, and I would be the first to sign up to white water rafting again.