This week Aims and I had some physical and mental challenges with a trek in Laos that included ziplines, abseiling and rock climbing. It brought back the school camp memories but it was also one of the most hardcore things I’ve done. Definitely thought I was going to die at some points (nah Mum it was super safe I swear!).
The trek was called the Treetop Explorer and it was organised by a company called Green Discovery Tours. We stayed overnight in Pakse, a city in southern Laos, and drove to the nearby Bolaven Plateau the next morning.
It was a two-day trek with an overnight stay in a treehouse about thirty metres in the air, accessible only by zipline. Really similar to the Gibbon Experience in the north, and in fact Aimee and I had really wanted to do that but it didn’t work out with their available dates and the remoteness of Huay Xai in the north. Like the Gibbon Experience, our trek was in untouched jungle. We were lucky to be the only customers so had three guides to ourselves, plus two cooks!
Both days were a combination of trekking through dense forest with a rubbish excuse for a path, ie exhausting work, and then ziplines that we were attached to with a harness. They started us off with a small one, about fifteen metres long and a few metres off the ground, crossing a waterfall. But all too soon we were crossing massive valleys on ziplines that were at least 40 metres high and up to 450 metres long. TERRIFYING!
The second day we had to scale a cliff face fifty metres in the air above a huge waterfall. We were attached to cables and had to climb using metal staples in the rock face until we reached a ledge that we could stand on. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any scarier, it started pouring with rain and we had to contend with the slipperiness of the metal and our joggers and Converse (professionals right?).
We got back to Pakse tired and wet and have had really sore muscles since, but this definitely goes down as one of the highlights of the trip so far. The rainforest was stunning and you can’t beat sleeping under the stars in a treehouse and ziplining out of your bedroom down to the breakfast table, which is situated next to a fifty metre high waterfall.
We caught an overnight bus north to Vientiane that night which was an experience, the beds are tiny and fit two people so I’d hate to have do it without a travel partner! We literally were spooning. Vientiene is the capital and we’d been warned about it being boring, but we liked it as we only had one night there and there’s a very obvious French influence meaning lots of bakeries.
The only tourist attraction we wanted to see is a replica of the Arc de Triomphe, which was built to commemorate the soldiers who died in the war for independance from France using money that was designated for the construction of a new airport. Go. Figure.
But the undisputed highlight was seeing twenty year old male triplets that were dressed exactly the same way. They all had long, layered blonde hair, nose piercings, were wearing the same style caps and Raybans and indie clothes. My god it was hilarious. I really wanted a photo but Aimee didn’t let me so I’m holding out in the hope that we’ll run into them again and I can get a paparazzi shot.
We stayed in a great hostel called Vientiane Backpackers Hostel, which provided free laos-laos (bootleg vodka) after 9pm so that was a messy night… But most importantly while I was there I spent about 4 hours at the Thai Consulate securing my 60 day tourist visa. I decided to do this rather than fly in next week on a free 30-day visa because I’m keen to spend more time in Thailand, rather than going straight to Vietnam. All this travelling gets tiring… and another trip to Pai to chill out and do some training may be on the cards.