Super busy week in Laos
Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
123Trip End Ongoing
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The day after trekking in Chiang Rai, Jim and I took a 2-hour bus ride to Chiang Khong, a border town to Laos on Mekong River. There, we got our passport stamped out of Thailand, hopped on a 5-minute ferry across the river to Laos, then filled out some paperwork for Laos visa, all of which took roughly 30 minutes total. That was the smoothest and easiest immigration process ever!!!
The town across the river was Houay Xay, where I was to begin The Gibbons Experience the next day. Jim was also interested, so we walked over to the office and he was able to register on the spot. That night, I had my very first Lao noodle soup ($1.3) and Lao coffee ($.6) - omg so delicious!! I love Lao already :-). Thailand had some amazing cheap eats but lacked very much in the coffee department
The next morning, we began our 3 day/2 night adventure with the Gibbons Experience, which is highly rated in all the travel guides and it has become a "must-do" activity among all travelers. It was amazing in most aspects, like zip lining through the Bokeo National Park. The longest zip line was 500m, and you can't imagine the adrenaline and exhilaration if zipping through the jungle with panoramic view of the mountains all around! Oh that was incredible!! We zip lined all day on day 2, in and out of various tree houses built in the national park and we also hiked quite a bit up and down the mountains between the zip lines.
But unfortunately, I didn't get to actually see the gibbons although some people were lucky to have a sighting of both brown and black gibbons.
The 28 participants were split into 4 tree houses, and these were awesome concepts. The tree house was built so high up in the trees, we had a breathtaking 360* view of the national park everywhere we turned. The bathroom/shower had no walls- just a curtain for privacy- so we were completely exposed to the jungle and that was just about the BEST shower with a view that I had ever taken!
I shared the treehouse with 9 others - except for Jim, they were all 19 to 21 year olds from Sweden, Austria and Holland. We all got along surprisingly well. So well that the next morning, we all met up to catch the 2-day slow boat ride to Luang Prabang.
The slow boat took a scenic ride down the Mekong River, for 6 hours on day 1 and 9 hours on day 2. This was quite an experience. The boat was packed full with tourists (95%) and we/they all killed time playing cards, drinking, taking naps, drawing tattoos on each other, passing a joint or just staring out of the boat. I am actually typing this blog on day 2 on the boat :-)
I'm surprised to say that I'm actually having fun hanging out with 8 boys ages between 19 and 21! We've been together as a group for 5 days now and they are reminding me of how fun life used to be in college, when our conversations involved what bar we were going to or how much alcohol we should pack for the long trip. These kids are so funny and they have definitely given me some great laughs. One boy Thomas is turning 20 tomorrow, and we all had a great laugh when I admitted that I graduated high school in the year he was born!! I actually can't believe they kept a 36-year old girl along for this long
We are scheduled to arrive in Luang Prabang at 6pm tonight, and this is the first time that I have absolute NO plans in the city, how long I would stay there or where I will head to next. But I am definitely ready to return to the beach, ocean, and scuba diving. The jungles and the mountains are beautiful but my bathing suit is calling me and it has been stuffed deep down in my backpack for too long ;-)
I had planned on my next destination being an island of Koh Tao in Thailand but I have heard of soooooo many travelers going there, I am feeling less and less inclined to go there now.
Well I guess I'll figure it out in the next couple of days. Will keep you posted!