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March 17th 2008
Published: March 17th 2008
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Laos - VanviengLaos - VanviengLaos - Vanvieng

The Irish lads!
Hey,

We have one helluva blog for you, so, before you start reading further grab yourself a glass of wine, a beer or a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy!

It all started when we booked our tickets for the bus to Laos at the guesthouse in Hanoi. We asked "how long does the bus take to get to Vientienne in Laos" the reply was "22 hours".........brilliant! We were given the option of $16 or $21, the latter being a more comfortable ride, we all decided on the $21 option. The next day Gill, Tom, Steve, Ollie and I were picked up at 5.30pm at our guesthouse in a minibus which holds 12, by the time we got to the bus station there were 16 people in the fecking thing all on top of each other. We took the 2 minute walk into the bus station to see what wonderful transport our $21 had bought us, well, what we saw was an amazing yellow bus with big comfortable seats and 2 levels, "yes" we thought. This isn't going to be so bad after all, people started walking towards the yellow light like moths to a flame......till we heard
 Vangvieng - smile bar Vangvieng - smile bar Vangvieng - smile bar

Ollie, Tom and Steve
the words "No......this one"! The "we're all going on a summer holiday" music in my head stopped when i saw the monstrosity that we would be spending the next 22 hours in. This bus was like something out of a bad dream it was rusty and had no tred on the tires...the only saving grace was it had plenty of leg room. We all sat on the bus for 1 1/2 hours while boxes and boxes of SHIT were loaded on. When they ran out of luggage space, bags of nuts and bolts, polestyrene, and small plastic chairs were thrown up the aisle right next to mitchs seat...........not amused! We all pissed ourselves laughing for ages as the bus took off, we couldn't believe how ridiculous all of this was and wondered what the bus would have been like if we had payed $16.
The journey was pretty hard going but not as bad as we thought it was going to be, it was made easier by the boys being there and we all had a good laugh along the way. We got to the Vietnam - Laos border at around 7.00am and took an hour to get our visa
TubingTubingTubing

Mitch on first slide!
etc. Then we were off again, we stopped for breakfast at some random shop, the food was the worst we have seen. The meat was hairy........enough said! We arrived in Vientienne at around 6.00pm, we stayed 1 night and then headed to Vangvieng on another 3 hour bus journey. On the 22 hour journey we also met a girl called Sanne from Amsterdam, she became one of the gang.

Vangvieng is a gorgeous place, a small backpacker haven surrounded by huge mountains and every restaurant shows a constant run of friends , the simpsons or family guy which is a great remedy for a hangover. When we arrived in Vangvieng I left Gill and Sanne and headed off with the boys to find a room for us all, most places were full but we came across a little gem called Villa Vang Vieng for $11 a night....superb! We met up with James, Mossy and Kieron from Ireland and we all got pretty pissed that night. Mossy headed to china the next day and James was knocking on our door at 12.00pm to go Tubing. I hear you ask "what is tubing?" for those that have not heard of this
TubingTubingTubing

Tubers!
amazing activity I will explain. Tubing consists of you sitting in a huge inner tube whilst floating down a river, on the way down there are different bars on each side and each bar has a massive swing that you can use at your leisure to look as cool as you like or act like a complete twat. It was one of the best drinking experiences we have ever had. The next day we were very hungover after a night and day of drinking so we just chilled. Then the next day we went tubing again, Gill actually did a massive swing at the last bar quite a few times, she was so proud of herself, it was a really good laugh! Then we had to leave and said our sad fairwells to James, Kieron, Steve, Tom, Ollie and Sanne. We had to start making our way to Luangprabang as we were starting the Gibbon Experience in 2 days time. The bus took 6 long hours as Laos is very mountainous and the roads are very windy, unfortunately we only got 1 night in Luangprabang as we had to catch a speed boat at 8.30am the next morning to get
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Gill and Sanne!
to the Laos - Thai border for the Gibbon. We would like to come back to Laos as we felt 10 days just was not enough. We would have liked to spend a few more days in Luangprabang as it was a really lovely place.

We had booked the speed boat to take us to the border, it was quite costly at $40 per person but we had no choice as the bus takes 15 hours or the slow boat takes 2 days so we would not have made the Gibbon Experience in time. When we payed for the speed boat a tuk tuk was included so he picked us up at around 7.45am and took us to the dock. There was only 4 westerners there, us and a girl from Scotland and her boyfriend. When we were told to make our way to the boat we could not believe our eyes we were expecting a speed boat with toilets at least but oh no that is not what we got. We got a boat which was divided into 4ft by 2ft sections with wooden slats......this is where you sit..........oh fuck! The bags were loaded onto the front and
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The Lads!
held on by ropes you are given a life jacket and a helmet, yes, i did say a helmet! It is recommended in the lonely planet not to take these speed boats as fatalities happen every year the mekong river is so shallow in the dry season that rocks stick out of the water and spins the boat and you get melted into the water......nice! Gill and i sat at the front, there was no one else in front of us so we could spread our legs out........the engine started and we headed out, then the driver opened the throttle........oh fuck! Mitch does not shit himself very often but he did on this occasion as did Gill it was unbeliveable, we must have been going around 40pm on the fecking water, it was fast! We had to sit in this thing for 7 LONG hours with a few pit stops, changes of boats and drivers along the way. We actually got used to it after a while, we stopped to pick up other people along the river our leg room was cut in half, Mitch got to know his knees REALLY well! On the last 30 mins of the journey
The MekongThe MekongThe Mekong

The death chariot!
Mitch spotted two dead bodies floating in the Mekong, they were bloated and were still wearing clothes.....scary! We arrived Hoay Xiay on the border and headed to the Gibbon Experience office.

The Gibbon Experience takes place in the Bokeo National park deep inside the jungle, which includes trekking, zip lines and sleeping in tree houses. We sat down and filled out the form where it says they take no responsibility for you killing yourself. There was another couple there, Jez and Amanda from England. Amanda was thinking about pulling out after watching a safety video, we tried our best to persuade her she would regret it later on, after much deliberation she signed up. The next morning we left at 8.30am on a 2 hour journey in a 4x4. There were 8 of us in the group, 4 Canadians called Emily, Darcy, Charles and Val. Jez, Amanda and us! Once we arrived at our destination we headed off on our first 3 hour trek, we were given harnesses which are like a rock climbing harness but they have a roller with a brake and a safety line. Mitch was loving it and Gill was hating it, not the trekking
The MekongThe MekongThe Mekong

Can you tell we are shitting ourselves!
but the zip lines. The zip lines we did on the first day were absolutely massive, The longest was prob between 4 or 500m long and 150m high, it was amazing! I was really proud of Gill as she really hates heights but by the last day she was wishing for more zip lines. At around 2.00pm we arrived at our tree house which has 2 levels and is suspended 40m in the canopy. We had coffee, tea and fresh food. The meals were cooked by the guides at a seperate kitchen in the jungle. The guides left us to our own devices and we could even go on the zip lines ourselves.........health and safety! The view from the tree house was breathtaking. The beds were comfy and we had a massive sheet to put over us as protection from the wildlife. The toilet had a hornets nest surrounding it so everyone had to dodge them whilst showering and doing the toilet. When you did a shit it basically went down the bog and straight into the jungle, if you really listened you could hear it hit the deck......superb! The following day we were woken by the sound of a
The GibbonThe GibbonThe Gibbon

Jungle Jim!
zipping guide who came to get us up at 6am for a trek before breakfast......this holiday has been soooooooooooooo relaxing............not! We ate and then zipped and then trekked for another 3 hours to the next tree house, on the way we stopped at a waterfall for a dip and some lunch! The next tree house was smaller but cosier and had no hornets nest and no gas for tea and coffee. Later that night Gill started getting symptoms of dehydration. We kept her cool and gave her plenty of water and rehydration drinks, half an hour later she was back to her annoying self......yeehaa!

In the morning the sunrise was stunning and we headed back to civilisation after ANOTHER 3 hour trek. On the way back we saw a huge snake. We had been in the jungle for 3 days and had not seen a single fecking gibbon or bird for that matter and on the way out the jungle we see a fecking snake........just our luck! On a serious note the Gibbon Experience has been the best thing we have ever done and would do it again in a flash. Once we arrived back Mitch started getting symptoms
The GibbonThe GibbonThe Gibbon

Jungle Jane!
of dehydration as he had been running through the jungle, showing off.....it backfired! He's on the mend now and we are in Thailand again. We will write our last blog before we leave. See ya!


Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


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The GibbonThe Gibbon
The Gibbon

The first zip!
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The Gibbon

A Gibbon!
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Trekking

Gill and Amanda
The JungleThe Jungle
The Jungle

The Tree House!
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The Jungle

Sunrise!
One of the zipsOne of the zips
One of the zips

Gives you an idea how high they were, and this wasn't the highest!
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Trekking

Mitch!


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