Monday, 10 September 2007

Gibbon Endurance

I arrived in the little Laos town of Huay Xai after a really pleasant 2 days on the slow boat from Luang Prabang. The views were really nice and the boat pretty comfortable (well the first days one anyway - complete with padded reclining seats and even life jackets - whats that all about?) We stopped the first night in Pak Beng, a nice little village about halfway along the Mekong. I've really grown to like the chocolate coloured artery, though after seeing and smelling the dead cow on the way I'm glad that I resisted the urge to slurp Augustus Gloop like from the river.

For the last 3 days I've been deep in the Bokeo forest in north west Laos to undertake the Gibbon Experience. The experience starts with a bit of a marathon walk in taking anything from 5 to 9 hours - we managed to slog our way through in 5 pretty sweaty and tiring hours, at times almost knee deep in mud and always on the lookout for the dreaded leeches (I only got one but the little fcuker drank some amount of blood) Our group consisted of me, Gus and Dan from Israel and Luz from Holland, all really nice. Apart from me obviously. Arriving finally at the tree house and zipping into our new home via a flying fox was pretty cool, as was the cold water shower with views to die for.
With a bit of time to kill I decided to do some exploring on my own, having half listened to the guides fairly vague explanation of the route needed to get back on the zip lines. Almost 2 hours later and unable to find that magic route back anywhere, and in the growing darkness I managed to pull myself back up the 300 meter zip line in the wrong direction, as it was the only way I could get home. I thought after the walk I was exhausted, but after that session I found the real meaning of the word. But the euphoria of making it back and the decent dinner made up for the pain.

The next morning we awoke to the sounds of the gibbons calling and a few minutes later the somewhat tardy guides saying come quick now. So without time for camera or shoes we zipped off in pursuit of our prey. They sounded only meters away but as we tried to track them one of the lads fell flat on his backside and made a right racket to we didn't manage to see any. Still the views later from the platforms looking down at the partially mist cloaked forest were beautiful. Much of the rest of the day was spent resting and zipping around (I found that I had been only a 3 minute walk to an easy zip home the night before - doh!)

On our last day we awoke to more cool views and gibbon songs, but they were too distant to chase, so we began the long slog back to the road, finally arriving at a cute village with tons of kids making nice portrait subjects. A can of coke never tasted so good. Nor did the cold BeerLao that evening, and it was oh so nice to not eat rice for the first time in days. This morning I hopped on a little boat and 10 minutes later I had exited Laos and entered Thailand - must be the easiest fastest Asian border crossing ever. So off to Chang Mai later today and then figure out what I'm up to next.


Mary said...

good to hear from you again. Gibbon Endurance sounded wonderful (if a little scary) back to Thailand...where to now? All well here in bp...autumn creeping in...corn cut...ireland lost yesterday to the Chech Rep 0-1..looks like out of Euro now
Joey misses you (ya, stills remembers you!)

seanmullins said...

I'm in Pai in the north west.
Bit of a Farang town but nice enough.
Yip heard the result, wonder wil SS keep his job