Day X – March 28
After 1½ hour on a very steady and newly paved road, we just started offroading for the second half of the journey into the wild; the beautiful Bokeo Nam Kha National Park.
A first awkward situation occurred this morning at the Gibbon Experience office, when some loud American dude tried to get in to today’s Experience but was told off. However, he could join the one leaving tomorrow. But he had to make a scene about it; loser.
On their site they tell you to book at least two weeks in advance, so that we could get Dan a spot yesterday was already pretty exceptional.
A second was when a random local and his daughter ask for a ride. Our driver said ‘no’ as this is a tour thing, but the guy pushed his girl and himself in next to us anyway. After half an hour or so the driver stopped at his request, and the good man tried to pay for the ride. The driver wouldn’t take the money, but the man wouldn’t close the door without giving it. Tension’s rising… The man ended up throwing the money through the window just before we drove off. Anything-goes Asia?
The languages spoken in this car: Lao (between the driver, the guy next to him and another guy on the back seat – I suppose they’re our guides) French (between the couple in the front seat – yes, next to the other guy and the driver) Dutch (between that Dutch dude that persists on speaking Dutch to me and, well, me) and English in general conversation.
We arrive at the last village with 22 people, say ‘hi’ to the local kids, take our pictures, and start our hike up into the much greener and denser jungle. Very different from the trekking in Thailand, not just because the enviroment seems so much livelier but because of the huge number we walk with. And the conversation; instead of hushed words about all the beauty we see around us, it’s about how legendairy Barney Stinson is. I very much enjoy HIMYM, but it’s not on my mind when I’m in the freakin’ jungle?!
After half an hour we stop for a breath and a sandwich that the guides hand out to us. Benches are actually build at this spot, but of course – we’re in the jungle, people – they’re covered with ants etc. That makes a few girls and one or two guys scream a bit…
I’m starting to think I looked forward to this one way too much and haven’t enjoy the trek with Sit nearly enough.
Another half an hour and we get to the first kitchen, a small building on groundlevel, belonging to treehouse n°1. Here we get our zipping sets and are divided into smaller groups. Dan and I end up with the French couple, two Dutch girls, and a couple that looks german to me because of the moustache, but turn out to be Canadians.
Our guides Dett and Kamping take us up first. Detts English is quite good, Kamping not so much – or he’s just very very shy.
When we get to the platform Dett explains to us clearly, simply but quickly how to clip on and how to break “but you won’t really need that,” concluding with “OK, see you on the other side!” and he’s gone, disappeared though the trees.
That first one; I hate to admit it, but I was a little scared. And the second one; I didn’t make it all the way till the other end, so I had to haul myself in for more than 20 meters. And it’s about 50 meters to the ground, and I’m hanging from a 1-centimeter thick cable, with just two little cords to secure me to it. Yes, I almost panicked.
But it’s all so worth it!
Imagine this: You walk through an amazing jungle, all sorts and forms of life shouting in enthousiasm all around you. And then you see a wooden ramp, kind of shabby build, but it holds, so it’s absolutely charming. You climb up, clip on your safety and your roller to a thick cable, take a breath, and jump. A second later you swoosh through a bambooplant or something of the sort, and a valley opens up before you. Five layers of hill up far, every shade of green imaginable beneath you as far as the eye goes and even the highest tree can’t touch your feet. And you just hang there, taking it all in, as you glide to a platform in the highest tree on the side of the next hill, where you change line and let yourself fall into the next valley. No words can describe this!
Now that was the best shower ever! No, seriously! It’s at the back of the downstairs platform of our treehouse, and open so you have a view over the entire valley, facing west, which is perfect since these parts of the world ask for an afternoonshower rather than a morning shower. You hear the water clattering down on leaves about 30 meters underneath you – plus of course the never ending rumble of the jungle; birds, crickets, monkeys… I don’t know what else but they don’t call it rumble for nothing.
Treehouse n°7, remember that one.
We all get settled in around our little table on our little chairs sniffing in the fumes of what promises to be an amazing dinner of… can’t really tell what it is yet but it smells great, so I’ma dig in!
Anything-goes Asia: Where a platform 40 meter above groundlevel doesn’t need a railing or a net; you’ve got your safety clipped on most of the time anyway…
[this was day one of the amazing Gibbon Classic Experience, expensive at €220 for 3 days and 2 nights. But after careful consideration (believe me, I’ve had the question if it’s worth it asked so often, I am absolutely sure) I do have to recommand it to anyone who has the opportunity!]