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running away Traveling south east asia, china, australia, new zealand and america. wherever the mood takes me!

gibbon experience

LAOS | Wednesday, 17 December 2008 | Views [1848]

the next morning I got to the gibbon office in plenty of time. I went out looking for sunscreen as I threw away the one I had in don det, as it wasn't water resistant. But they didn't seem to have any and didn't know what I was on about. I even made tried using my hands trying to indicate sunshine coming down on my head, but they thought I was asking for shampoo. So I just gave up. Hoping I wouldn't need the suncream to much.

I went back to the office where we were to watch a safety video before we set out for the park. The video was really funny. Saying that we had to put on the harness like a diaper and showing us in the video how to put the clasps on the zip lines. Wrong, not wrong. OK.

After the video we were hanging around outside for a little bit and ended up talking to one of the couple who were going as well. Their names were Mia and davide, Mia was Slovenian and davide was Italian. I noticed that they were bringing their big bags with them, as I was leaving my for safe keeping in the office there. But they said they were heading north to luang nam tha afterwards so they could get the bus half way this way. That was where I was heading next and it was a really good idea I saved a day this way. So I went running into the office to get my bag also to bring it along.

In the truck there ended up being 11 of us and we all introduced ourselves. There was an older Belgium couple in the front seat, called Leo and belinda. Then we also had gias and karline from Holland and a German swiss, Daniel There was also a guy called Simon from Germany and the last guys were German also, florian and Mario So we all got to know each other in the truck. And we stopped at one stage at the village were everyone who was heading north would leave their bags and pick up after to get the bus from there.

We got back in the truck and that's where it started to get fun. We were jostled back and forth and being thrown out of seats as we made our way into the park boundaries. In the truck I had to tell everyone what Helen from Melbourne had told me, as herself and Melissa had done the gibbon experience already. Which was make sure you bring your own soap and don't look up at night with the torch. Of course I said will now you have to tell me why I shouldn't look up. And she said well you'll see really big spiders. I went oh. Well you know I'm going to have to now. Ha ha

well most people in the trunk weren't to pleased with my story and said I shouldn't never had told them, especially florian cause he said he was scared of spiders. I'm sorry but I found it funny. Now everyone knew. Ha ha

we arrived to a village, where we all got out and we were to walk from there. The group we were replacing were sitting there looking all tired and when we started our trek, they all wished us luck! Luck what for? But we never found out and now we really didn't know what to expect.

The first part of the trek was easy walking through rice paddies and along a stream. We even stopped really early to have lunch which was a chicken roll. It turned out quite good after I picked all the onions out.

But it was all a false sense of security. After that it got really hard.

Florian ended up setting the pace which was just to hard for me. And I ended up near the back. I found a kindred spirit in karline as she wasn't able to walk that fast either, which was great. So me and her nearly took up the rear. The only one behind us were the older couple and I think only because Leo and burst his ear drum before and so had hard time balancing. He said it was like learning to walk all over again.

We got to the top of the hill and we came to a area with houses. We found out later that it was the kitchen were all our food was being made.

After a little rest we were told we had to decided which tree house we were staying in right then. Tree house 1 housed 6 people, tree house 2 housed 2 people and tree house 3 housed 4 people. The older couple were to have tree house 2 to themselves so that just left us to decide where we were going. Well there were 2 more couples and 4 guys and then me! Karline spoke up and mention did the lads what to had a German house together and then that left me with the 2 couples. Which was prefect to me. Then gias said well maybe she wants to be an the tree house with 4 guys. Ha ha.

Hey I wouldn't mind but they all spoke German so I knew they would be speaking German the whole time. So it was decided. The 4 lads went to tree house 3 and the older couple went to tree house 2. they all left together in a group with their guide to go to their houses and left the rest of us to wait until our guide was ready.

We all got our harnesses and line on for the zip lines. And then we had to walk up the hill a bit to get to your tree house. It ended up that our tree house was the first one and everyone had to go through to get to the other side. We got to the first zip line that brought us right into our tree house and davide was really eager and was the first one to go. For our first day we had two guides. One that went first to the other end and yelled when it was alright for the next person to come and one at the beginning to make sure we got our equipment on the zip line right. That first zip was really exhilarating. And we then got to explore our tree house. And I mean it was a tree house. Any feeble attempt at home wouldn't even compare to it. It was a magnificent structure up in the top of one of the tallest and biggest trees I've seen. It had 3 different levels. There was a bed on the top floor the sitting area and kitchen was in the middle and then the bathroom and the two other beds were on the bottom floor. The bathroom was the best part. We are in a tree house and we have to shower and go to the toilet, 50 M. above the ground. With everything, I mean everything, just falling to the floor below.

Mia and davide took the bed on the top floor which left me and the dutch couple below. After we had put our bags down then we were off to use the zip lines a bit more to get used to them. We went off on the zip lines. I have to say it was really good fun and to be so high up was amazing. After you zip down one line you had to walk to the next one, most of the time it was up hill. There was one spot, where there was a junction where 4 lines all met. So that was the only time where we didn't have to hike to the next line. We later ended up calling it Bangkok junction. Ended up zipping to the next tree house, which was number 2. but we were only at the base of it looking up. But we were able to yell up to Leo and belinda and say hi.

We then made our way back towards our tree house again. Zipping back towards it. When we got to the zip line that brought us back to our tree house we ran into an aussie girl that was walking around with a guide on her own. We didn't know who she was. When we all got back to the house, we found out that she had come to join our group. Her name was Jessica and she had crossed the border from Thailand that morning but she was too late to join our group but she was told since there was one place free that if she wanted to pay extra to get a separate car to bring out, she could go. Since there was no other places available for a few days, she decided to go for it and that is how we got an extra recruit. So I guessed I wasn't going to have a bed all to myself then. We sitting around talking and we put the kettle on for some tea and the guides left us to our own devices. Not really saying much. It was still quite early and we weren't totally sure if we could go off zipping on our own. But then again we were told when we signed up that we could use it anytime.

So since Jessica hadn't been zipping yet, she had only did the first one to the tree house, we said it was our duty to show the ropes. Ha ha.

We went except for gias, who decided to stay behind and we all set out on the zip course. We just did the one we did earlier with the guide but on our own this time. It was really fun. Ended up taking some videos and pictures, while I was zipping along. When we got back to the tree house, we were all sitting around our little sitting room on these tidy stools, made only for Asian people. We were chatting away getting to know each other and taking turns using the shower, which was an adventure in itself. To stand in a tree house high in the air, naked as the day you were born and you see straight down to the ground as there were gaps in the floor for the water to go through. You definitely didn't want to be afraid of heights. Me, I found it exhilarating.

We were hanging around waiting for our guides to came back with our dinner and it was starting to get dark, so soon we would be eating by candle light. When we found our dinner under the sink. It must have been dropped off earlier when we were zipping. Which was rice and veggie and what we think was beef. It wasn't too bad. It filled a hole. But we did end up eating by candle light and torch light.

At one stage Mia went up to her bed and gave a yell. Something had chewed through her bag. That's when it dawned on me, the one important piece of information Helen had told, had gone out the window after I heard about the spiders. There were mice in the tree houses and you had to make sure that that there was nothing left in your bag or they chewed through it. It had to happen for me to remember this bit of information though, unfortunately. But we all went for our bags then to make sure there wasn't anything left in them. We all came back pretty confidant that we hadn't anything left. I had a chocolate bar and ate it straight away. No mouse was getting that.

Mia came back down saying that the mouse had gotten a chewing gum wrapper and she said she didn't even know it was there.

We were sitting back down in the sitting room and we started looking for spiders then. And man did we see them. I think we were all a little freaked at them but they didn't seem to move anywhere and as long as they stayed where we were, we would all be fine. Everyone else headed off to bed a bit earlier than Jessica and me.

She read a magazine that she found and I started reading this visitors that was in our house. It was started the Christmas before and continued till about September of this year until the book pages ran out. It was actually very funny. They talked about the mice and the spiders and other things that's had happened to them. But the most interesting part was the golden triangle Olympics. Which was three zip lines, one that ran from our tree house and up the hill to the next zip line that would bring you back towards the tree house and the last line that brought you into the tree house. And there were times from other adventurers from earlier in the year that had done it written in the book. I thought it was a great idea. After reading the book for awhile, both Jessica and I headed to bed, making sure when we put our mosquito net down that we tucked it underneath our mattress so we wouldn't get any little visitors during the night.

The first night I actually slept quite well. I had set my alarm clock for every early 6 O. clock as I read in the book the night before that, that was the time you were most likely to see gibbons. So I got up when my alarm went off. It was really quiet except for all the birds singing. But it was really nice. With the mist over all of the mountains and it was quite cold. Jessica had asked me the night before to put on the water for tea in the morning when I got up, as most likely it would be ready by the time she got up. So I put the tea on and I was looking out of the house trying to spot some animals. I heard some co-motion over by the zip line that lead to the tree house. So I went over there and sat on the landing board as that's was were I could get the best view. And there was definitely something in the tree. The branches were moving and it seemed to be breaking small branches off from the noise it was making. I did finally see something chase another one of its kind down the tree trunk but I couldn't tell you what it was. I was hoping it was gibbons but I don't think so. Then I noticed that the zip line was bouncing up and down and I was thinking that there were gibbons swinging on the line that I couldn't see. But then I heard the noise of someone zipping and a figure of a guide coming straight for me as I was still sitting on the landing pad. I got a bit of a fright I can tell you.

It was two guides and they were just zipping through. I'm guessing to the other tree houses as they were further away. But our guide wasn't too far behind them. He arrived saying that we were to go. I said we go zipping? The same way? He said no a different way. So I woke everyone up and asked did they want to go. Our guide said that we would have breakfast when we got back. So everyone got up and put our harnesses on and zipped out of the tree. But we only ended up doing one zip and after that we went trekking in the woods. Again myself and karline were to the back of the group the rest of the guys were just going to fast. And if we were suppose to see animals, weren't going slow or quiet enough for that. So it ended up being a nice trek with out really seeing anything and then we ended up at tree house 2 at the other end of the zip lines so all we had to do was zip back. The guide headed off saying that breakfast would be in about a half an hour and left us to zip back on our own. As we had some time to kill we all decided to zip around Bangkok junction a few times before we headed back towards our house for breakfast.

During breakfast, I was telling the guys about the book last night and the golden triangle, davide was was really eager to try it, so as soon as dinner was over he got his phone to do a stop watch on and he took off. We could hear he zipping off and we were gathered around waiting for him to come back. We heard him get on the second zip line and after a little while the last one. We were all cheering for him as he landed at our tree house. The fastest time in the book was 1 min. 40 sec. Davide did it in 3 mins 20. he was saying it was impossible for them to go much faster than that. He didn't believe the book.

I guide Thai came to the tree house after that and davide convinced Thai to do the circuit and he did it in 2.20. so davide was totally convinced that no one could do it much faster. But I told him that someone had mentioned in the book that the lines were slower in the morning because it was cold. So maybe later, everyone would be faster. But davide couldn't see how they could be much faster.

Anyway Thai had come to bring us hiking. We were to hike to tree house number 5 and back and see tree house 3 also were the guys were staying. So we zipped our way through Bangkok junction and to the base of tree house 2 and walk towards tree house 3. it was a very pleasant walk. The woods were quiet it was just us. There weren't many zips lines just one between tree house 3 and 5 and then the last one bringing us into house 5. house 5 was really nice. It had views all around it.

And one of the launches from there was a straight drop off the side off the house well they all were but this one seems particularly high and it was a sit down launch not a step off launch like the rest of them. Davide was eager to try it, while everyone was sitting around and having a rest after our long walk. And I wanted to try the line to so I went with him and Jessica came with us. The launch was really fun. One of the best and then we just had to walk a little to the left till we got to a different zip to bring us back to the house. This zip actually went straight to the side of the house and we actually had to climb over the wall to get in, really fun. While we were in the house we saw the Germans speaking guys go by on a zip a little away from us. We must have just missed them. They must have left the house just before we got there.

Afterwards we all had to leave the house and we left by the zip line that Jessica and davide and I just took. It took a few minutes for a couple of the guys to get going from it and there was a tree there that if you were looking, you would have hit.

We then took the zip that we saw the German guys taking earlier back towards tree house 3. so we had to hike back towards house 3 and when we finally got there. We went in to have a look and Thai our guide went back to say he would get lunch ready for us. So we went in to see the guys house. The landing was under the tree and there wasn't much room to maneuver around once you got there. Jessica asked me to take her camera to get a picture of her as she was coming towards the house. I said no problem and took her camera and zipped to the house. I expected her to come next as I was waiting for her. But gias and then karline came. I wasn't ready for that so there was some confusion as gias and karline tried to get by me. So by the time Jessica came I was a little over over the place. Between her camera and mine and the the gloves we had to wear. Well anyway I dropped her camera. Not out of the tree but on to floor of the tree house and it wouldn't work. I felt so bad, I didn't know what to do. But Jessica said it was OK and don't get upset. As long as she didn't do it herself she was OK. Yeah don't get upset. I know I would if it was mine. I couldn't afford to offer to pay for a new one and she said she asked me to take the picture and she took the risks into account. Which was a mazing of her I have to say. So we all ended up taking pictures of her with our camera saying that we would e-mail them on to her so that she still had some from the experience.

Anyway from that tree house the lads had a great view looking over the whole valley. And we ended up staying there awhile hanging out and watching this green bird in the tree. It was really nice. We headed back towards our house and we took our time we were so slow. No trekking this this it was a walk. But it was nice and we got to talk to each other along the way. When we got to our house, everyone else was there. The other couple and the German speaking guys. They had lunch in our tree and I think we were suppose to have lunch with them but they had all eaten already. Leo and belinda left soon after and the lads headed towards the kitchen for some reason which was going the wrong way for their house. We were hanging at our house and eating our lunch. As far as we knew we were free for the rest of the afternoon and evening and we didn't know what to do with ourselves. The lads ended coming back not to long after and we were chatting away. They went down to the kitchen to see if they could get beer for the evening, but they had no luck, just ended up having to bring their own dinner back with them.

Davide brought up the subject of the golden triangle and asked did any one want to do it. There wasn't any takers at first. But Daniel the swiss guy was pretty fit and we convinced him to go for it.

We cheered him off and had the stop timer going. It seemed that the lines were faster than earlier but we wouldn't know for sure until he had done the circuit. We heard the 2nd line and not long after he was on the last line coming towards the house. And as soon as he touched down we stopped the time. Daniel did it in 2 mins 33. nearly a whole 50 seconds faster than davide this morning. Davide was gobsmacked.

Jessica then decided to do it. One for the girls. Jessica went off with us cheering for her. She ended up coming back with a time of 3 mins 26, which wasn't bad as she was afraid of rolling her ankles. Then Simon the German guy went, he did really well at 2 mins 56. at this stage davide was I suppose upset with his time earlier of 3 mins 20, especially when Simon beat it as he was very athletic and a smoker. So davide had to go again. This time he came back with the best time of 2 mins 32. betting Daniel by 1 second. He was totally pleased with himself. We were thinking that if Thai had done it that morning on slow lines in 2mins 20. he would definitely bet any record in that book.

I decided I had to give it a try, and man was I so unfit. I got on the first zip and zipped off. My heart was pounding even before I started running which wasn't a good sign. I got to the end and I guess I was habit nervous and had trouble getting the clasps off the line. I then had to run up. Or more scramble up a steep hill. And by the time I was near the top I was panting so hard and my heart was ready to pop out of my chest. I ended up walking for a little bit to the next zip line and got the second one and at the end of that one I half jogged half walked to the last zip. I got the final one to the tree house and I was ready to collapse. I was even wheezing. I did it in 3 mins 5. It just really showed me how unfit I was.

After me, florian then decided to give it a go saying that if he went I wouldn't be last any more. How sweet. Ha ha he did it in 3 mins 8. so I beat him by 3 seconds. Ha ha

so it was

davide - 2.32

Daniel – 2.33

Simon – 2.56

me - 3.05

florian – 3.08

Jessica – 3.26

so I guess I wasn't the worst.

The lads left us after that wanting to be back at their house before dark. We gathered around and talked. At around dusk we heard what we think were gibbons out in the forest. So we all gathered around the area that had a view and sat a waited hoping to see them. But they never came close enough. Every one there was just so sound and we had some mad discussion, from the squat toilet to taking drugs. Gias even said at one point to look at the spiders again but with the flash light next to my eyes like a miners light would be. Oh my god it was so freaky. Every where that they were spiders, their eyes were glowing back at me. Like little lights. It was so easy to pin point them out then. But it was way to weird for me.

We all went to bed early that night we were just wreaked for all the zipping and trekking.

I set my alarm for 6 the next morning again but when it went off I just couldn't move myself. I laid there under the net listening to the birds singing, which was all of a sudden disrupted by the tours guides coming in. well there didn't seem to be any chance in the morning before they came to see the gibbons as they came so early.

Thai was the last to the guides to arrive at our house. He was going to bring us for a walk. Davide and I were ready to go. Jessica decided to come as well. Mia wanted to stay in bed and I envied her. That want I wanted to do but felt guilty in it. And gias and karline, just decided to go zipping.

So the tree of us set off with Thai and this time we went really slow and quiet hoping to see something. We heard a lot of noises alright and we did see something being thrown out the tree periodically. But no animal life. After a while we turned back and Thai said he was off to help make the breakfast so we were free again until then. We met gias and karline just after climbing up the hill from the first zip line and we decided to join them for some zipping. We made our way up to Bangkok junction. And zipped across. Once I was over the other side I was just didn't want to do anything and laid down on the bench and stared up at the sky and listened to the sounds around me. One thing I wish the gibbon experience had would be a viewing platform away from the zip lines were you could just hang out and sit a look for wild life. But there wasn't any where to hang out other than the tree house. But it was a small annoyance for me. Everyone else I don't think minded.

On our way to house 2 we passed Leo and belinda going to our house as we were all to have breakfast there before we left. So davide decided go into their house and have a look around. It was the only one we hadn't seen yet. When Jessica came back from zipping and saw him up there she went too join him. Gias and karline just kept zipping around. As I was lying there the lads arrived from their house, on the way to ours as well. Simon and Daniel went up to house 2 to have a look as well, while I had a chat with Mario and florian. After well I decided to head to Bangkok junction to see if I could hang out there. So I zipped myself to the middle and hung out there for a while, sitting there on the platform metres above the trees and ground. It was really cool. Not very peaceful through as Leo was still zipping and Simon and Mario and florian came not to long after me. Simon and florian decided to hang with me on the platform while Mario headed off to the house. So we had a little gathering while the rest came and left on the zip lines. Davide went to find Mia and they even came back to get the last few zips. The longest zip was 500m and it was the best one being the highest and longest with the best view. Finally we all had to head back to the house for breakfast where we all gathered around and talk about our experiences among other things. Before we had to zip our last zip and head back towards the kitchen to give back our harnesses. Then it was a slow walk back to the village as we were dragging our feet from exhaustion but also from the felling of not wanting to leave.

It was sad to be leaving our little tree house in the middle of the forest. But it was fun and wonderful experience I would recommend it to anyone to try once in their life. Well worth.

Tags: gibbon experience, tree house, trekking, zip wire

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