Gibbon Experience

Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
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35
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Trip End Aug 06, 2009


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Tuesday, June 9, 2009



We took a mini-bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong on the Thailand/Laos border. We spent the night there and took a 'ferry' (just a guy in a small boat) across the Mekong river to Huay Xai (pronounced way sigh) in Laos. We were scheduled to take the slow boat to Luang Prabang but decided to do the Gibbon Experience and postpone our transport. The Gibbon Experience is a 3 day/2 night trekking expedition into the Lao jungle/mountains. They use 90% of the proceeds for conservation effortts in the area and for the village. What makes this experience truely unique is that you spend the night in a treehouse hundreds of feet in the air and the only way in or out of the treehouse accommodation is to strap on a harness and zip-line over. We did the Waterfall Experience which had more trekking then the Classic. The first day was hell, two and a half hours in a truck (one hour of which was on unsealled mountain roads), three plus hours of trekking through the jungle, leeches everywhere on your shoes and feet as you walked, and a bee infested treehouse. Not to mention our borrowed bag broke after the second zip-line. Traci got stung in both treehouses and most got bitten by leeches, nasty. We must have been spoiled by our Northern Thailand trek because we were told there would be water but what they actually meant was there was tap water or stream water. The tap water was probably rain water but the group decided to boil it anyway to be safe. We each had mossie nets, which were thick cloth, almost canvas and unbearably hot for sleeping, turns out they were good to keep the giant ratdogs away, although the rats did a good job of making loads of noise and chewing through bags and my flip flops.  I think we were also tired of trekking because we just did a Thailand trek, otherwise we would've been in better spirits. 

The second day was much better. We did a couple hours of trekking to another treehouse, with less bees, and had the whole afternoon to explore on our own using the zip-line network though the jungle from mountain to mountain. But our bag broke completely. We were literally on our own, the guides left; "see ya later!" and the crew walked around the jungle with our harnesses on and navigated our way around the jungle. It was a bit scary to go without a guide or any kind of indication what the next zipline might be like, but it was loads of fun. The views were excellent, lots of lush green valleys and mountains. The longest zipline we encoutered was 500 meters long and the platforms were interesting to say the least. After our diy fun, we headed back to our treehouse and relaxed before dinner. Not too far away we saw a troup of monkeys, mackacks, climbing up trees for fruit and playing. The toilet was tucked behind one of the tree branches and was difficult for the girls to er get to, and it all just fell down to the ground.  But it was the best views from any toilet I have ever encountered.

The thid day was a lot of fun. One of our guides was nice enough to carry our broken bag across the zip-lines so we didn't have to worry as much, and there were a lot of zip-lines to cross. They kept us well fed too, sticky rice with veggies 3 meals a day, very good. We got back to the village, we got dropped off at around 11 AM to wait for the truck to take us back to Huay Xai, while we waited we were amused watching the children, wee ones, running around with machetes chopping down small trees and then teasing the pony with the branches.

The trip started out hellish ended up brilliant and is now one of the major highlights of our entire journey.  We have quite a smirk here back in the states when we see zip-line tours offered but first you have to complete a saftey course, wear a helmet, and have guides harness you....ahhh wheres the adventure in that?!?
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