The Gibbon Experience

Trip Start Sep 03, 2011
1
6
16
Trip End Oct 16, 2011


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Where I stayed
In a tree house

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Bokèo,
Saturday, September 10, 2011

After a quick breakfast and purchasing some snacks and water, we arrived at the office at 7:30 in the morning, then proceeded to wait until well after 8am for the last couple to arrive. There were 6 of us in total, 2 Dutch Houhan and Villamae and 2 English, Rob and Helen. After the video and safety briefing we jumped in the back of the 4wd. Since Helen and Rob were last, we relegated them to the back of the tray.

We set off for the 2 hour drive to the the start of the track into the jungle. We thought our driver a little strange though, apart from not saying a single word to us,  he banged his head on the back of his seat a few times, would stop randomly by the side of the road and had a heated discussion with a local in the middle of nowhere about what looked like a bag that you would put a seedling in... 

It absolutely poured half way, and once we got the stubborn window up, we were fine... Can't say the same for Helen and Rob in the back of the tray! 

We finally stopped in the middle of what seemed like nowhere and disembarked where there were a few locals waiting... We assumed them to be our guides. We were handed our sandwiches and 2 bags of eggs with at least  40 eggs in each. How they were expecting all the eggs to survive is a wonder.

All 10 of bounced and stumbled our way over the very dilapidated bridge which had boards missing every few steps and swayed wildly! We then continued for half an hour or so through rice fields and across rivers until we reached the start of the dirt track. Our spirits were high, we were pumped and excited.

After an hour or so, our 'guides' informed us that we still had 6 hours to go and they were infect just locals, not our guides and would be walking with us for another 20min only! What! Apparently the truck that was supposed to drive us to the village was broken down.

After we recovered from our shock we trudged on. An hour on, and our 'locals' caught up to us Pom's and Aussies in the front, informing us the 2 Dutch had turned back. They didn't have proper shoes or enough water. 

The heat was almost unbearable, the was no shade on the track at all and it wasn't long before the sweat was running off us. We kept saying just one more hill and we will stop for lunch, or just at the top of this one, but the hills seemed relentless and there was no escape from the sun to rest, so on we trudged. 

After well more than the 20min, we came to the local man's farm and he very kindly invited us in to his little hut to eat our lunch out of the searing heat. It was such a small space that him and his mate had to stay outside in the sun while we ate! The break from the sun was much appreciated.

Soon after, less than half way in I ran out of water.  Lucky we passed a group coming back who told us where a natural spring was. (though they also told us to turn back as the walk wasn't worth the experience,  which disheartened us somewhat) 

It was a great feeling to finally  reach the village some four hours later. Although we had been warned we might have to walk that far, we weren't really expecting it.  The children in. The village (most of whom were running around naked) were so fascinated by us.  It is interesting to see how the people in rural villages live, so fundamentally different to what we are used to.

We soon found out we still had another  hour walk to reach The Gibbon Experience! At least this time there was more shade as we were soon inside the jungle. Man it was slippery though! Since it is wet season the track was very muddy and we kept sliding all over the place. I was so glad I had worn my old shoes! We eventually reached the top, got our harness then set of again for another 40min! This time we got to zip across valleys though. Wow it was so much fun!

The tree houses were very cool. Made you feel like a little kid again, inside a real cubby house! Although dark when we arrived , the view from the tree house was amazing. 

The second day we spent walking/slipping along tracks and zip lining between trees. The longest zip line was 600m. We also spent the day fending off leeches! 2 broke through Jamie's defenses! Yuk!

The third day we woke to the sound of gibbons singing (again) and this time we spotted them. Although a fair distance away we spent most of the morning watching them swinging about. It was wonderful. 

Lucky the truck was working for our trip back, so once we had reached the village, we didn't need to walk anymore! I must say it was a crazy 4wd trip back though. Very bumpy. There were 11 of us in total in the back of the truck including a pregnant lady and a young mother with a baby.  I am surprised the truck got through.... We did need to winch it out at one stage and often had to get out to walk behind the truck during particularly bad looking sections.

I should add that prior to our 4WD trip back, after crossing the last river we had stopped to wash our faces. Kim took off her glasses them off to wash my face in a river then, forgetting I a put my glasses on top threw them into the river. We tried looking for them for ages, but the river was moving too fast. Kim was devastated.  It is very frustrating not being able to see! 

Somehow we made it back to the main road, where after some lunch we farewelled Helen and Rob and returned to Huay Xai. 

I also need to add that we felt very guilty about getting to sit inside the truck on the way back while the mother, baby, pregnant woman and a dozen other locals crammed into the back tray. We did offer up our seats, but was refused. Our only justification, that there wouldn't have been a truck to take them at all if we hadn't been on a tour.

Words can't describe how great it felt to have a shower that night. Our shoes are a little worse for wear however!
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