Outdoor Education

Part 5: Tourist or Guide?

By Wilderness Adventures May 19, 2023
Cloudy sunset over the ocean and rocky coast of Vietnam. Oldschool fishing boat in the center of the image with many flags and nets.

Part 5 of the 2022 Ultimate Staff Contest Blog Series

With Bi out sick for the day, Chris and I were asked to help guide one day! In exchange for guiding, we got t-shirts and a free boat ride out to a tiny island we had wanted to climb at. What a deal! We took a series of small boats around the bay, collecting clients and making our way to Moody Beach. As our captain navigated through dozens of islands and small channels, I imagined the legend of dragons creating all these islands to protect Vietnam from invaders. Without intimate knowledge of the area, it would be impossible not to get lost even with a map. 

Our captain, trying to be nice, got the boat very close to shore so we wouldn’t have to wade through deep water to get to the beach for climbing. But he was a little too nice and ended up getting his boat stuck on a rock. In order to free his boat, everyone had to get waist deep in the water and push. The captain even dove into the water and swam under the boat to push it off the rock. Eventually the boat was free, and everyone was soaked. Time to climb!

Four people pushing a boat off the shore of a rocky coast in Vietnam.

It was only the second day that the sun had come out – a beautiful day to be climbing at a beach on a tiny remote island. Chris and I spent the day setting and cleaning top rope anchors, belaying clients, searching for seashells, swimming, and soakingup the sun. It was a phenomenal last day of climbing. 

Group of rock climbers at the base of a limestone wall belaying a climber and gathering gear.

When we got back to town, Bi bought a massive hot pot feast for everyone to celebrate an amazing week and the departure of Chris and me.  

The trip was an absolute dream. The climbing was the best I have ever experienced. We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones. We became friends with many locals and other travelers, a handful of whom we remain in contact with. Befriending the local guides and spending the week on a small island was a unique cultural experience I hadn’t experienced in my travels. We were as interested in learning about Vietnamese phrases, foods, and customs as our new friends were interested in learning ours.

Our experiences truly embodied the values of Wilderness Adventures – community, leadership, and the outdoor world. I cannot express how grateful I am for Wilderness Adventures to have made this dream come true. 

Color film photo of two men in climbing gear with their arms around eachother in front of a climbing wall on a sandy beach.

A million thanks to Tom, Catho, and entire WA leadership team <3 

Happy Trails!

By Brandon Gamble, WA Trip Leader