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Published: March 20th 2009
The bloody staff cancelled our bloody booking! We said we'd be in the office 'first thing'. Dom went there at 7.30 and they were closed, so went back at 8.10 and was apparently 10 minutes late and the bookings had been given to other people! What the hell? So anyway we had to wait till the next day, which wasn't so bad.
Hoi Xiay, the town on the Thai border spelt differently on every signpost, doesn't really have much going for it apart from a few nice restaurants and the opportunity for resting from a bus journey that was supposed to be 12 hours and turned out to be 16. It was a bad bus, but after Myanmar it was no problem! Dom got to finish his Japanese MP3 course on the way, which he was very happy about, stuttering little Japanese sentences and wanting people to know it was a 45 hour course, not some newbie 8 CD Michel Thomas affair. Boys.
The 'gibbon thing' was so cool! We thought Go Ape was great, but this place totally put it to shame! After two hours driving plus one hour off-road, plus one hour trekking we were isolated in
the jungle, and had to zip-wire our way around a network of tree houses to find where we were staying. We were really lucky and got a whole treehouse to ourselves. It was about 30 feet from the ground and came complete with running water, a double bed with mozzie net, a shower, a gas stove and a hole-in-the-floor toilet - look out! A zip line ran in and one out again. Those two lines were the shortest on the whole course, though - only 60 metres long each! The longest was 500 metres. Five hundred metres! In total there must have been between eight and ten kilometres of lines! Half of them were too far away to get to without trekking for hours though (the whole site is split into two seperate trips, starting on different days).
We were lucky again and got a really friendly group of people, and lucky in where our house was in that it was right next to a four-line trip of 1.1km - Dom's best time was 3 minutes 36 seconds from clipping on to clipping off. He's sure he could beat the time easily if he had a few more goes
and could do it without filming the whole thing on his camera! We all had sore patches from all the zipping in the harnesses, and Dom stupidly managed to get a mild friction burn on his neck!
It's difficult to do justice to just how cool this place was! The lines were so high it was really quite scary - something like 100 metres. The starting points were also scary - from treehouse five you had to jump off a little ledge with a huge drop below, as opposed to doing a running start which felt much safer!
The food was also great, but came in ridiculous quantities - a guy would turn up in the morning and take you looking for gibbons at sunrise (we didn't see any, but heard loads screeching away), then a few youngsters would turn up with a massive container of rice and another of various steamed veg and egg - enough for maybe five Doms! The same happened at lunch and dinner!
Most of the day you can do pretty much what you like, but they offer a guide for trips to do the really long wires, which are a three
hour round trip - about 3km+ of zipping. It was so awesome! So awesome that no one really minded when everyone came down with food poisoning on the last day - including one of the guides! Yikes.
What a great three days! Two hours later we were on a bus back to Thailand to find out that we had to change our flights to Tokyo and actually could have stayed in Laos another 10 days! What bad luck! If it wasn't 30 dollars just to get into the country we could have just turned around and gone back. Can't win them all I guess!
P.S. Videos to come soon, once we edit them and make them under an hour long!!
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