We checked in at the Gibbon Experience office at 8:15, left our big bags in their storage room and just brought our day packs. We watched a video on what to expect and some safety info and took off in our tuk-tuk to our starting point. They gave us each a beer to carry and provided our helmets and harnesses. We got all suited up and divided into groups. Frances and I were in a group of six with three Canadians from Vancouver and Comox, an English girl and two guides. Then we started off on our journey!
As we walked through a little village, the children, fascinated by us, kept saying, “Hello! Hello!” They were giggling and watching us prepare to cross the river on our first zipline. One of the ladies gave them a bit of chocolate to share and their wide-eyed grins were priceless as they giggled away. We were all a bit nervous for our first zipline, but we all made it across! Then we hiked for about an hour uphill … this was challenging!! We took a few breaks and had some of the cookies they gave us. We started our seven ziplines for day one and the view was amazing! We were so high up and all you could see was the tops of trees – just green mountains upon green mountains! Looking down was nerve-wracking! We saw giant spiders in their webs along the way, maybe the size of my hand, but their bodies were quite small. I’ve never seen a spider that big in real life!
We zip-lined into the treehouse mid afternoon and had a snack. The guides were pretty funny, joking around with us and performing magic and card tricks and teaching us some Lao. I learned to say “ning, song, sam, bye!” (1, 2, 3, GO!) One guide had carried a bag of raw eggs with him on the lines the whole day and didn’t even break any! We all showered (separately) in the open air shower with a beautiful view of the green, jungle mountains! We watched the sunset together and took pictures, ate dinner: rice, veggies, pork, chicken and BEER! We played some card games and went to bed early since it was dark and we were all tired.
There’s a reason they don’t have ‘jungle’ as an option for white noise: It’s not soothing! I forgot my earplugs, but I tried really hard to fall asleep in the treehouse. There were weird bird noises, a giant moth that makes a high pitched whirring noise, and many other unfamiliar sounds! I finally fell asleep, then woke to the sounds of skittering and something moving around in the bin with the food wrappers, beer cans, and bottles. We’d been told to put our snacks into the blue bin so the rats wouldn’t get to them … BUT they didn’t tell us to do anything with the garbage! When I heard squeaking knew for sure we had rats in the treehouse. I REALLY didn’t sleep well from that point on … Will they come upstairs to where we’re sleeping? Will they smell my soap and want to get into my bag? Did Frances put ALL her snacks in the blue bin? Will they come into our makeshift tent? How big were they? Do they eat people? Will I come out of this alive? What will they tell my mom? I was wide-eyed and SUPER STILL until I got so tired of being scared that I fell asleep again. Later on, Frances got up to pee. I hadn’t told her about the rats and she’d been sleeping with ear plugs. She had no idea how brave she was. I waited for her to come back and report to me the safety status of our dwelling. She said she saw something swinging from the tree … but she survived.
Our guides came to pick us up at 6:30 to do four zip lines before breakfast. We came back to our precious eggs for breakfast, along with rice, veggies, some meat, and COFFEE! We rested for a bit before heading out again for a full day of hiking and zip lining. I wasn’t as sore from the previous day’s hike as I thought I would be and it wasn’t as difficult as the previous day either; we mostly hiked downhill, which was challenging in a different way. We did another nine zip lines that day, including the longest one (almost 600m!) and eventually arrived at our final destination where lunch was provided for us. They had some coke and beer that they kept cold in a little rock fountain (where the pet cows had also drunk from). … It was a cute little spot right beside the river, just outside the jungle. We completed 20 ‘official’ zip lines, but including our initial one to cross the river, and in and out of the treehouse, it was more like 25.
Our tuk-tuks picked us up to drive an hour back to Huay Xai. I didn’t expect 4 X 4ing to be included in this adventure. I literally had to hold on with both hands for dear life. I was catching air often and, if I wasn’t holding on, I might have flown right out of the tuk-tuk! So much for taking a nap! We passed through a banana farm. It was really cool to see loads of bananas hanging from the trees and the massive banana leafs that they so often use as placemats, tablecloths, and decoration in Asia. Did you know that there’s even a banana flower? It flowers at the bottom of the bunch of bananas and it’s purple!
We made it back safely, showered at the office, went for dinner, picked up our bags and headed off to our night bus through Luang Prabang and onward to Vang Vieng!