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Freezing in a Bamboo Shack

by Going Slowly


"Tyler," I whisper, trying not to wake our friends. "I can't feel my toes. Let me in!" I'm trying to squirm my way under his legs for warmth, but he's enviably asleep and his leaden body refuses to budge. I let out a huge sigh and stare at the ceiling, my body starting to shiver, my mind acutely focused on the cold, unable to relax.

I had hoped we would be warmer in our shelter than we were in hammocks, and I had hoped that four warm bodies would keep us all comfortable. Alas, with the last vestiges of heat from the campfire now gone from our bodies, a plummeting outside temperature, and only the barest of covers, I am freezing.

Time slows to a crawl once more as my body gets colder and my mind more agitated. Gone is the pleasure of free-camping with our friends, and in blasts the truth like the cruel wind through the hut: this is not fun anymore, this is so freaking cold that I cannot feel my body!

"Tara" I hear, coming from the bundled body on my right. "I'm awake too, it's freaking freezing in here." Natasha whispers. Thank god I'm not the only one! Knowing she's awake too helps boost my morale, as does our spontaneous decision to spoon. Pete and Tyler follow our lead–we're now squished together like four, very cold sardines.

We spend the next few hours restlessly rotating in sync with one another like hot dogs at a gas station grill, trying to evenly distribute what little heat we're generating. Meanwhile, A raised ridge in the floor digs into my shoulder and hips, and I curse once more our lack of tent and sleeping bag. Never again, never again!


Despite the added warmth a four-person-fully-clothed-spooning provides, the all-encompassing chill is still sharply penetrating. Natasha is heaving deep sighs every ten seconds, Tara is smashed into me, sucking the heat out of my body, and I'm miserably trying to HTFU, playing mental brinkmanship with nature, saying "bring it on!" when I've already lost and nature isn't even trying. Meanwhile, Pete is snoring. Snoring! I am so jealous.

Fading in and out of consciousness throughout the night, there are only few brief moments of relief, and certainly none of rest. I can't help but think about how totally non-issue this night would've been with the right gear.

At some point in the early hours of the morning, Pete gets up to smoke, and Natasha lets out a whimper—one side of her body is now exposed to the cold. With restless noises coming from everyone, I decide it is time we start the day, joining Pete outside of our shelter to rekindle the fire.

Northern Lao Free Camp Fire

Natasha and Tara are quick to join us, eager for the heartening warmth of our little blaze. The heat of the fire soon gives life to our frozen bodies, making us wish we'd "cowboy camped"—sleeping around the fire in shifts while the others stoked it. As we squat around the flames, commiserating about the night, halfheartedly laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation already, we all remain resolutely adamant that, despite the "supposed snoring" we're all accused of, none of us slept a wink.


Even though dawn will soon be here, it isn't too late for a fireside nap. Natasha lays out her pillows, snuggling up under her sarong, while I lay my head on Tyler's lap and bask in the warm radiating glow of the fire. All is right in the world once more. Soon, I am fast asleep under the stars.

Northern Lao Starfield