Taking the Long Way travel blog

Driving in

Our transport

Heading off from the village

Up into the jungle

Harnessed up and ready to go

Zipping in to the first tree house

The lounge

In what was supposed to be my bed

The view


Massive beehive on my tree house

The bathroom


Early morning view from the tree house


Early morning zip

Where I actually ended up sleeping...


Lunch is served



One of the zipping platforms

The Gibbon Experience was mostly great, a little light on gibbons but none the less a once in a lifetime experience. The 3 hour ride in an open air jeep was pretty hair raising once we left the main road and headed in towards Bokeo Reserve. There was 13 in my group and I was with about 5 others in the back who were hanging on for dear life as we drove up streams and down gullies. We eventually arrived at the main village from which we were expecting ‘an easy one hour walk’. Admittedly the first 15 minutes were easy, the following hour and a half however was a serious trek straight up a mountain that was not at all what I had been anticipating. It was quite obvious just from my foot wear, a dainty little pair of Crocs compared to the heavy duty hiking boots everyone else was wearing. Not that I had any hiking boots to wear anyway but still… Footwear not withstanding I made it to the top at the head of the pack and we stopped at the base came to be given out harnesses then trekked further into the reserve to the first zip line.

From there I made my first ‘zip’ out to Tree house 1 where I would be spending the next couple of nights with 5 others from my group. I settled into the top ‘bedroom’, if you can call it that when everything is open air and there is no privacy except calico mosquito nets! But then a very large, sweaty and extremely smelly Austrian girl came up and demanded to share the bed with me as she didn’t want to travel to the next tree house as she was too unfit. Hardly my problem, I thought, but diplomatically pointed out to her that I has already set the area up that I would be sleeping in and I didn’t plan on sharing my bed with anyone (particularly not someone with such an offensive body odour!) and she would need to take another bed. To cut a long story short, she refused to move out of the room or off my bed, and due to a further unfortunate sequence of events, in the end I had to sleep on a mat in the kitchen/lounge under a mosquito net that lay on top of me with nothing to attach it to. Most unsatisfactory. This girl was a nightmare for the next three days! I can’t even begin to explain…

But enough of that. The tree house was incredible, 3 levels, with kitchen and bathroom as well as three sleeping areas. There was cold running water in the kitchen and shower, the toilet was an Asian style squat toilet over a ‘long drop’. There was a HUGE beehive about 120cm X 70cm on the tree and for some reason every afternoon bees would fly up through the bottom of the toilet and congregate there; its amazing how quick you can do your business when you are afraid of getting your bum stung at any second!

From the tree house you could zip further out into the jungle by a series of zip lines, each with considerable trekking in between as you constantly had to be climbing to the next higher point to zip to a lower one. Once again, not a factor I had taken into consideration! It was truly incredible, flying through the air in the middle of the jungle suspended up to 150m above the ground, travelling up to 500m in any one zip. I spent hours and hours zipping around (with hours more trekking in between!) both on my own and with others or guides, it is the most incredibly peaceful yet exhilarating experience to have.

The gibbons sing every morning around 6am for about 15 minutes and its at that point the guides are able to locate them. So what happens is the guide zips into the tree house at 5.50am and wakes everyone up and gets us out of there within 5 minutes. We zip out into the jungle and then RUN in the semi darkness uphill to wherever the guide leads at a breakneck pace in order to find the gibbons before they stop singing. The second day we were too slow and missed them but the last day as I flew along a zip line I saw one lone gibbon swinging on a tree. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my camera out in time but at least I saw my gibbon. Most of the others didn’t even see one and apparently its not that common to see them at all.

So pretty much my days consisted of gibbon chasing, mostly unsuccessfully, eating, zipping, trekking, eating, zipping, trekking, eating and sleeping. Food was zipped in in tiffin carriers 3 times a day to the tree house by the guides who cooked it at the base camp, the best room service I’ve ever had. Really great food as long as you like sticky rice, which was the basis of each meal 3 times a day bit with 4 dishes to go along with it.

We made the muvh easier downhill trek out of the jungle this afternoon and the long drive back to Huay Xia, where I will stay another night at least before moseying on my way.

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