Gibbon Experience, Laos

March 14
We checked out of our hotel and walked over a restaurant to eat sandwiches and then the Gibbon Office. We checked in and left our bags in their back room for storage. We then watched a safety video that made it seem like gibbons and monkeys were everywhere and that you had to be careful of them, even though we didn’t see one monkey or gibbon our entire three day trip. We then split up into two trucks and I say in the back with Matt, Tim, the Brazilian guy, Daniel, and the Dutch girl, Sonne. There were two Americans on the inside who didn’t talk to anyone much. We drove for an hour, I relieved myself from mild food poisoning, and then we continued on a very bumpy, very dusty dirt road for an hour until we got to a village, which was the place where we started our trek into the jungle. We split up into two groups, people who wanted to do the “Classic” course first, and people who wanted to do the “Waterfall” course first. For some reason, 9 people wanted to do the “Classic” one first and us five didn’t care, so we only had five people on our group and the other had nine. This worked our really well for three reasons. Firstly, there are only 8 beds in each treehouse, so that means that one person in the other group had to sleep on the hardwood floor at night with animals, spiders, rats and bugs walking around him all night. Also, each treehouse gets the same amount of food regardless, so we were full every meal and the other group was pretty hungry the whole time. And thirdly, there were three people in the other group who seemed very annoying and like know-it-alls. After our groups met up after the three days, it seemed like the other group split into two separate groups of friends and didn’t really talk to the other. Our group, on the other hand, got really tight and we had a blast together. It couldn’t have worked out any better. We started our hike, which took about 3 hours to get to the Waterfall Experience. The first half of the hike was flat and easy and the second half was hot and steep. We finally made it to the waterfall, and it was a tiny little waterfall with a pond that you could swim in. There was a zipline into the water that we all did and swam around for a little. The water was freezing and fish kept trying to bite us so we got out pretty quickly. We then drank our one beer that they gave us for the trip because we didn’t feel like carrying it anymore. We then each got a harness for the trip and were off to our first zipline! Now was the moment of truth. We each went one by one and it was nerve wracking because none of us have ever done ziplines so long and so high off of the ground before. You are over 100 meters from the ground and the ziplines were all between 300-500 meters long. It was so awesome. Once I started going, I started to gain speed as I passed trees from both sides and all of the sudden I was out in the open 100 meters above anything in the middle of two mountains. Nothing but a cord was between me and my for sure death if something went wrong. We got more comfortable after the first couple but in the beginning, it was scary because you really thought something could go wrong. We soon realized that it was safe and the rest is history. We ziplined around our treehouse where we would spend the night. We went around and around about 6 times until we got tired. Right before it got dark, we zipped into the treehouse and our guide showed us where our food was and said he would be back in the morning. We were like, “wait, what?” He said that he wasn’t spending the night and then zipped away. He was like a little monkey and was always smiling. We liked him a lot. So now there were us five, by ourselves in the jungle and had to live in the treehouse. We ate dinner and then cleaned the dishes off so animals wouldn’t smell the food. We then played cards and used our flashlights for light. We moved into one of the beds to play cards some more because it dark so early and no one was tired. There were four double beds, so each of the other three got their own, and Matt and I shared because we were the only two traveling together in our group. We tucked the mosquito net, which was more like a few bed sheets sewn together, under the mattress so nothing could crawl throughout the night. Once we went to bed, the jungle came to life. There were so many noises and many animals around us. It was actually scary because we felt so vulnerable. Somehow, I fell asleep and slept through the night.

March 15
We woke up around 8:00 am and ate breakfast that our guide brought in. We then packed up and zipped out of our treehouse. We then did the longest zipline or the trip, which was about 500 meters. It was very long and you get a lot of speed. We then hiked for three hours to the Classic Experience, which is where the other group was last night. We passed them on the trail and continued up a mountain to the new course. We passed these army men with machine guns in the jungle, so that wasn’t a good feeling, but they just smiled and waved. We switched guides and got a shitty guide who didn’t say more than 20 words to us over the course of two days. We zipped into our new treehouse through a tunnel of trees. It was a really cool entrance and a really cool treehouse. The treehouse was very high up and overlooked a huge canyon. There were two long ziplines into it and one out of it, so it was a nice base. There were a lot of bees there, so that got annoying, but none stung anyone. We had free time for the rest of the day and were only allowed to do the ziplines right by our treehouse. We got bored of this after a couple of hours, so we asked our guide if we could zipline outside of that small area. He said no because it was too far, but we smelled the bull shit, so we went anyway. Luckily, I took a picture of the map in the office the morning before, so we had some reference as to where to go. I was the leader because I had the map, and luckily I was right, it wasn’t that far to the other ziplines. We zipped across canyons multiple times and went to more that were even further. It was such a fun day and I am so happy we did this. One of the ziplines was sooo high. It had to be about 200 meters above the ground. Sonne and I doubled up on the high zipline to gain speed by adding both of our weights together. On most of the ziplines, you don’t make it to the end and have to pull yourself in by leaning back and pulling the rope. It gets tiring after 30 long ziplines in a day. We went back to the treehouse and the guide wasn’t even there. There was food on the table and that was that. We zipped out and hung out on the ground because the bees were too annoying in the treehouse. There more than 100 of them buzzing around. We ziplined some chairs and snacks, and we played card games for a couple of hours. I got restless and went on a few more ziplines around the area until it got a little dark and bees were mostly asleep. We then set up our beds and ate dinner as it got dark. There was a huge tarantula sized spider in the bathroom but I just peed off the side of the treehouse to avoid it. We hung out for a little bit and called it a night after a fun but exhausting day.

March 16
We ate breakfast in the morning and zipped out if the treehouse. We zipped, then hiked for 20 minutes, then zipped, then hiked for 30 minutes and so on for about five ziplines. We saw a group that just got here yesterday in a treehouse above us as we hiked so we talked to them for a little bit from below. The hike was difficult and seemed to be only uphill for the most part. We would hike up and then zip down on repeat. It was a very tough ending to an exhausting three days, but nonetheless, it was a blast to zip over canyons like this. We met up with our original guide that we liked for the final hike to the town. He brought his little kid along for the final ziplines and hike. It was cute. We made it to a base where we dropped off our harnesses and then had an easy 30 minute hike back to town. After hours of hiking and 63 total ziplines, it was a successful trip for sure. We had some celebratory beers at a little shop at the town that only sold beer and water. Even though they were the only items sold, the lady selling them couldn’t figure out anyone’s change or whether people wanted beer or water. After 30 minutes, the other group arrived and we all talked about our trips. They had a great time too but their group was very divided by the end. We rode back on the bumpy, dusty road for an hour and the ate lunch at a small rest stop before riding an hour longer on the main road back to the town. We got back, exchanged information with our new friends and them took a well needed shower. We then caught a tuk tuk to the boarder, where we would catch a bus to Chiang Rai, Thailand. We loved Laos. It was a really fun place to visit.

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