Laos and the Gibbon Experience!
Trip Start Jun 17, 2007
28Trip End Aug 20, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
It has been a long time without updating the blog, but we have been out of civilization for many days and are now in a place that seems to have internet without intermittent power outages. So, from Chiang Rai Thailand, we headed northeast to the border town of Chiang Kong. We took a local bus which was amusing to say the least. Dan could not fit in the seat, so his legs hung out in the narrow isle and the man in front of us literally used Dan's knee as an arm rest. To no surprise, the road was full of pot holes. Bumpiness aside, it was a gorgeous drive through the mountains. We went through many villages with rice fields stacking the slow increase in altitude. After the bus picked up and dropped people off through out the ride, we eventually arrived in Chiang Kong so we could cross the river into Laos. We got our passports stamped by Thai immigration for the equivalent to 20 cents and then took a very long and narrow boat across the Mekong River
The Gibbon Experience~
We woke up early to meet our old trustworthy Landcruiser to take us into the Bokeo Wildlife reserve. We drove for a couple of hours with 9 other people jammed into the truck. We arrived at a river and the driver said the river was too high to cross in the truck so we would have to walk the rest of the way to the camp. It had been raining a lot lately so the river was high and there are no vehicle bridges in rural Laos. We got across on a flimsy foot bridge and proceeded to walk. We hiked through rice fields and up and down mountains on an extremely muddy road which the Landcruiser could do if it were to cross the river
The tree house had 3 stories, a mini kitchen/social/dining area. Upstairs was a bed room. Down stairs was two bedrooms and a bathroom with running water that was drinkable through filters and a toilet which dropped to the jungle's floor. When Heidi used the toilet, you could hear branches breaking below! It was all open air with basically a tent that covered your sleeping area. That night, the Hmong guides brought sticky rice and vegetables, pretty good too. We stayed up until 10:00 pm and listened to the many mysterious noises of the Bokeo jungle.
We awoke at 5:50 am to the sound of the Black Gibbons singing
We ate fresh fruit for breakfast and waited for the fog to burn off and it did. Our view was incredible, it was sunny and nice. We set out for a day of zip lining across the jungle. The lines were as high as 250 meters in the air and as long as 400 meters long. As we zipped across the jungle, you could see for miles, mountain after mountain. The adrenalin rush was incredible too! You moved so fast across on the lines. Dan took a video on the zip lines (Click on the picture in this blog with Dan's face on the picture, it is a video)
The next morning, the Gibbons started singing at 5:50 again on the dot. This time it was much less foggy. Our guides spotted branches moving across the canyon. We saw the Gibbons! There were a few of them jumping from branch to branch and one sitting on top of the tree. We were looking down on them. They were basically swinging on top of the jungle's canopy. We enjoyed the short time we were able to see and hear them. It was time to start heading back. Knowing that we had 7 ½ hours of trekking through the mud, we were a bit depressed. We walked back down to the village where we hung out for a bit. A fellow traveler was very ill, so we tried to ask if one of them had a horse she could ride out on....they did, but they did not want to walk back in and money was not a motivating factor. We were scared this women would not make it.
We walked for a few hours, taking many breaks for a sick compadre and along came the Landcruiser out of no where. It felt like superman came to the rescue. All ten of us and another villager piled in. We were so impressed by driving skills and the power of this landcruiser. It went straight up the muddy steep road....we could not believe we made it through some of the terrain. After about an our of mud bogging, we came to the river where we stopped at the bank. We thought the driver would have us get out and we would take the foot bridge again, but then he began to role up his window and told us to close the windows in the back. He started driving into this rushing river. The water was up to the windows and was starting to seep in. We made it across, but about 40 meters down stream and up the other river bank! We all cheered. The moment was surreal.
We stopped in a local village for noodle soup and a beer and headed back to Houay Xai, Laos for the night. We ate really good Indian food and hit the hay early. We were tired. The next day we set off for a 2 day trip down the Mekong River to Louang Phabang, Laos. There was a fast boat that goes the same route but were advised not to do it because of the multiple wrecks and deaths that occur on the boats due to floating debree and stronge twirling whirl pools.