Gibbon Experience, Laos
Our guide had us up and ready at 7 a.m. for a one hour trek searching for wildlife (particularly gibbons). We did not see any, which was not surprising as it was so misty we could barely see 10 metres in front of us. This made the ziplines interesting, because suddenly the end would appear in front of us without warning (truth be told, that made them even better). After our disappointing trek we ziplined back to the tree house to pack up our bags, then ziplined down to the kitchen (on the ground) for breakfast: omelette, sticky rice and veggies. Someone said we had better like sticky rice and I was starting to see why.
With breakfast finished we started a two hour trek into a different part of the jungle, with new ziplines to explore and a new tree house for us to stay in. At the halfway point we passed a man selling non-refrigerated drinks and all the boys loaded up on beer. I thought I was on a winner when I found orange juice. It turned out that orange juice was a drink that was orange in colour, full of sugar and probably didn't have anything resembling fruit in it. The sugar rush helped me to keep going though. The trek had many uphill sections and I could feel the pain from yesterday's hike. Despite this, I was pretty happy to get some exercise in as I hadn't achieved any in a while.
We reached our tree house and tucked into lunch: sticky rice, veggies and stews. The were two differences with today's tree house compared to yesterday's: first, there was a private upstairs section for one couple to sleep, which Danny and I managed to secure as we were the only people travelling as a pair. Second, the zipline out of the tree house started from a small ledge outside the house, with nothing below it but empty space. It took all my nerves to seat myself on the platform each time I needed to leave, and then I had to find some extra nerves to push myself off the ledge. Once I was airborne I was fine, it was only the start that terrified me. It never got any easier.
Our guides showed us around the new ziplines for 90 minutes, which drained most of our energy. However, given that we had two hours of free time and we were never coming back, we pushed on and went off to do them all again by ourselves. By this stage we were confident enough to try to go as fast as we could on the ziplines, by using a running start and curling ourselves up into a ball to reduce wind resistance. I wish we had a way to measure our speed to see if that actually helped.
Back to the tree house for dinner: sticky rice, veggies and stews (yet again). They did mix up the stews but they all had the same generic taste. We were also served morning glory with each meal, which is definitely a vegetable I do not like. Dessert was more peanut brittle with the condensed milk that was used for coffee. A strange combination but that was all we had. They gave us a bottle of the local Malacca wine (as they did last night too), which tasted like liquid wood. Can't say I'll be buying that particular variety any time soon. Tiredness overcame us early and we were all in bed by 7.30 p.m. I slept so deeply that I didn't even hear the Russian snoring.