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Kirky’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 11 Jun 2005

Location: Chaing Khong, Thailand

MapI've just headed back over the Mekong to Chaing Khong in Thailand as my Laos visa was about to expire. Its a quick 'in-and-out' across the river to get another 15 days in Laos.

So did I head North or South?

It has all worked out pretty well. I headed north to the beautiful mountain surrounded villages of Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi for a couple of days of exploring caves and trekking to nearby hill tribe villages. Having had one failed escape attempt, there werent enough people to merit the bus leaving (Bus driver: there werent any locals going and the two foreigners wouldn't pay the extortionate fare I was trying to get out of them until I decided to finally reduce the inflated fare but it was too late), I finally left for two days on the as-usual overcrowded buses to head towards Ban Donchai, made all the more fun by the fact that Laos locals dont really travel that well and constantly hock-up out of the window or just go for the full blown puke whenever they have the chance. I have to congratulate them on the use of plastic garden chairs in the aisle to up the numbers though.

Ban Donchai was the pick-up point for the Gibbon Experience, and challenge of the day was to identify which village along the route and get the bus driver to stop. A great big thankyou to the only local on the bus of 55 who knew which village it was. It was great to get off the bus having covered the 100 or so km in a mere 7 hours.

The Gibbon Experience - fantastic. I've spent three days living in a treehouse 40m up in the canopy with a rescued Gibbon called Chui, listening to the Gibbons sing in the early hours and fed like a king. The mode of transport is the best in the world...strapped in a harness zipping along a steel cables stretching as far a 400m across the jungle giving you the best possible view across the Bokeo Nature Reserve. If anyone is thinking of heading to Laos, this is a must. It's defintely one to come back to in a few years...the Gibbon Expressway is on the cards. A zip line all the way from Houay Xai on the Thai/Laos border all the way into the reserve, usually some 2-3hours drive away.

I was hoping to leave Houay Xia tomorrow on the world renowned Laos Air, but my flight is cancelled, surprise surprise, to a lack of customers. I'm hoping the bus will leave, although I'm not holding my breath as it didnt go this morning for, wait for it, lack of people.

Go with the flow. This is the Laos way.