. We finally arrived and unloaded into the middle of a tiny, extremely rustic, and very typical Lao village. From there we embarked on an hour long trek into the Jungle. Once there, we were strapped into harnesses and taught how to use the zip-lines. We then split ourselves into groups and trekked towards our tree houses. There were miles of trails creating a web through-out the jungle, with zip-lines presenting themselves at every corner, offering a 100-400 meter ride hundreds of meters above the trees, creating another network of transportation through-out the jungle. I loved trekking through-out the jungle, I was the only one in flip-flops and the only one who didn't get attacked by leeches. When it comes to trekking and anything where a guide is involved, I do what the guides do, I eat what the guides eat, and I wear what the guides wear. The guides wear flip-flops for a reason, and so did I, much to the shock of my companions. Our accommodation was easily the most incredible place I have ever stayed. Our tree house was only accessible by zip line and was on the top of a massive tree hundreds of meters from surface level. We had a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a sleeping area, and an adorable, bug-hunting kitten. It was more of a loft than a house, there wasn't much privacy, but the view was incredible. Every direction offered miles and miles of rolling hills flooding with magnificently green jungle. Gibbons, endangered in this area and rehabilitated by the profit gathered from the "Gibbon Experience," fill the air with their unique whips and whistles
. After the guide led us to the tree house, he informed us that dinner would be zip lined across at 6:00 and mentioned something unintelligible about evacuating in the event of a lightning storm, and left us for the evening.
We spent the rest of the night enjoying the view, snacking on the enormous supply of tropical fruit, and playing cards. After dinner the horizon was filled with a huge storm. Lightning, unlike anything I've ever seen, seemed to cover every inch of the horizon. The night sky was as bright as day. We turned off the light and enjoyed the beautiful and enormously powerful display of nature in absolute awe. Most storms in South-East Asia last about 20 minutes of brutal intensity, and then they pass as quickly as they came. We assumed this storm wouldn't be any different and decided not to pack in preparation for the storm. After watching the storm for another half hour, it began to creep closer, the lightning was so intense it looked like someone was drawing in the sky. Suddenly, a shockingly cold breeze filled the air. We looked at each other with nervous eyes. Michael, having a fear of heights, suggested that it might be a good idea to pack up our stuff just in case. Before anyone could even nod in agreement, what seemed like hurricane winds swept through the tree house. Everything seemed to explode into chaos. Clothes, furniture, sheets, pillows, blankets, towels, cards, anything that wasn't attached flew into the air at incredible speeds
. The tree leaned and bent with the force of the wind, creating an experience similar to that of a boat in the middle of the ocean. We collected our things, threw on our harnesses, and jumped on the zip-line. As I jumped off the ledge and onto the zip-line, I felt as though I was jumping out of an exploding building. The wind was so strong, it felt as though even I would be tossed into the sky. On the other side of the zip-line, there was a relief hut, filled with rotting wood and stone. There wasn't much room to stay, but we had no choice. The first hour was exhilarating, we all thoroughly enjoyed the adrenaline and uncertainty. We jumped at every noise in the jungle and came face to face with every insect and blood-sucking creature. After the first hour, we started to get cold, bored, and extremely tired. We did whatever we could to entertain ourselves. From trading strange stories, to playing word games, to even singing theme-songs from old cartoons and T.V. shows. Five hours later, the wind finally calmed down, the lightning seemed to have passed, and the rain had all but stopped. We zip-lined back to our tree house and walked into a disaster-zone. Everything that was still there was sopping wet, our beds, our sheets, our pillows, there was simply nothing dry to sleep on. We had no other choice than to suck it up and sleep, shivering in a puddle that we called a bed. If there could be any valid excuse for not calling my mother on Mothers day, I think this would have to be it.
The next day began just several hours after we went to sleep, offering miles and miles of trekking and zip-lining
. After the events of the night before, no jungle creature could phase me. That night, another storm was building in the horizon. This time we prepared, securing all of the dishware, sheets, blankets, and packing our stuff. I had already decided that I wasn't going to evacuate, I was simply too tired and Erika was extremely sick and couldn't evacuate even if she wanted to. The storm passed right over us, offering some of the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life, I slept off and on through-out the night and returned back to the border town the next day. I stayed one last night in the border town of Huay Xai. The next day I split paths with Erika and headed on a bus to the sleepy and beautiful town of Luang Prabang. The 14 hour bus ride went by rather quickly, I met a very cool group from the UK who I got along with rather well. We arrived in Luang Prabang early the next morning and moved into a guest house. Luang Prabang is known for several sight seeing adventures, the most popular of which is the nearby waterfall. We grabbed a tuk-tuk after breakfast and headed to the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen in my life. The waterfall went on for miles, with layers and layers of little lakes and swimming areas. The most incredible thing about it was the water, which was bright turquoise. It was amazing and we spent hours enjoying the area before heading back. That night I got a message from two of my close friends that I made in Chiang Mai, informing me that they are in Vang Vieng, a town a few hours south of Luang Prabang. Apparently every restaurant and guest house there plays constant reruns of Friends and Family Guy all through-out the day and night. I split up from the UK group today and I am grabbing the first bus to Vang Vieng to meet with my friends. Laos is an incredible country, truly one hundred years behind the times. The entire country is filled with vast forests and jungle. Small rural picturesque villages are scattered everywhere. I am truly enjoying the stark contrast of my travels through-out Laos compared to the very developed and industrialized country of Thailand.
I arrived at the Thai Border town of Chiang Khong in the late afternoon after an extremely long bus ride from Chiang Mai. We quickly crossed the Mekong River and entered Laos. While dealing with immigration and getting our visas, we met two travelers from Canada who were headed to "The Gibbon Experience." I had no idea what it was but everyone was telling me that the people they knew who traveled through-out South-East Asia claimed that the Gibbon Experience was the most incredible adventure of their entire trip. The event was completely out of my budget, but they eventually sold me on the idea. Describing vast jungles, a huge zip-line network and towering tree-houses to sleep in. It sounded amazing, and a little bit like the movie Avatar. I threw it on my credit card and the next morning we were set to depart. Still not really sure what I was getting myself into and dealing with a little bit of buyer's remorse, I woke up the next morning, packed my day pack, grabbed my guitar, and hopped on a 2 hour, extremely bumpy, car ride to the jungle's entrance