Yves is Manyu’s French brother-in-law. He is married to Manyu’s younger sister, Niensheng.  They live in Thailand. The last time we visited, Yves took the two of us hiking in the country’s Khao Yai National Park. There were four hikers total – me, Yves, Manyu, and Simon, a friend of Yves I’d only met the day before. The trail was grown over, and I don’t think a trail crew had been through in years. We came upon a large fallen tree blocking the trail. At the point where the trunk crossed the trail, the obstacle was eight feet above the level of the trail. Yves and Simon immediately went in opposite directions off-trail to find the easiest way around the tree. I held my ground, intrigued by the challenge of going up and over. The bark itself was smooth, but there seemed to be vertical indentations in the trunk (now running horizontally because the tree was on its side) that would work as handholds and footholds. I started climbing, and three quarters of the way up, fell backwards and landed in an entanglement of vines. The vines broke my fall, but also drove spines the size of cucumber seeds into my back and thighs. Simon saw me fall and rushed to my aid, but then didn’t know what to do once he reached me. Manyu hadn’t moved.  Instead she said,“Don’t worry. He does this all of the time.”

Steven Simpson