Doing the funky gibbon

It was a 6 hour bus ride to Chiang Khong, the border post on the Mekong River that separates Thailand and Laos. Then a 2 minute boat ride across to Laos (see video below), the seventh country so far on this amazing adventure which is now into it's seventh month!

We had chosen this route into Laos as Huay Xai (the border town) was the base for The Gibbon Experience - an eco tourism project that funds forest conservation and community projects in the Bokeo Nature Reserve. Guests stay in tree-houses and use a zip-line cable gliding network to scour the primary forest in search of the illusive singing Black Gibbon.

Illusive being the operative word. We did see some gibbons once in the three days for about 7 minutes, far off in the distance. Well, we saw their silhouettes jumping through the canopy. We heard them very well though, by George are they loud! Here's a video of me filming our wonderful al fresco tree-house shower. The siren-like noise in the background are the gibbons.

Staying in our house in the sky was a fabulous experience. Our tree was high up in the forest canopy only accessible by zip-line. Here's Duncan zip-lining in:

We shared the tree-house with 3 others; an English guy called Chris who was just about to start Uni (I still haven't forgiven our guide for thinking he was our son), Jean from Belgium and Nicolas from France. And over 3 days we zip-lined through the nature reserve. Zip-lining was the highlight as it soon became apparent that we weren't going to see any gibbons by day. It was so exhilarating flying through the canopy at heights and lengths I can't even begin to contemplate that we sort of forgot about the gibbons anyway!

Cue a couple of videos of us zip-lining and a photo of the map of the zip-lines...

Evenings were spent listening to travel stories from our fellow zip-liners and playing cards. All with the symphony of a nature reserve by night as the background music. Our tree-house had the cutest, stealthiest cat. She was resident rat-catcher and on night two managed to capture and eat a flying squirrel. She ate the whole thing, leaving the tail for desert. Respect. Plus she understood English. Check her out:

Ok, enough of the videos. Here are some photos:

Duncan and our guide, good at guiding, shit at guessing ages
Rocking a harness

After 3 delightful but exhausting days we arrived back in the non-descript hole that was Huay Xai with the desire to move on fast. The soonest we could leave was the following morning on the 2 day slow boat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang...

 

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