A Travellerspoint blog

The Gibbon Experience


We said goodbye to Chiang Mai and started our 6 hour bus journey to Chiang Khong to cross the border to Laos-this journey was horrible! I have never felt so sick in my life!! Still managed to eat half a packet of Oreos though : ) Although, we did make a toilet stop next to the white temple (amazing) in Chiang Rai which I had really wanted to see so that was a bonus. We arrived at the border and it was the weirdest thing ever, it certainly didn't look like any passport control I've ever seen! We nearly walked past the guy on the Thai side! Then a man takes you in a wee long tail boat over to Laos! I've never experienced anything like it. Then it was early to bed before the Gibbon Experience...

After doing an overnight trek we were worried that maybe doing two nights at the Gibbon Experience would be too much but seeing as we had already paid for it (and it was ridiculously expensive) we didn't really have much choice. We set off at 8am and to say the journey was a mission is a bit of an understatement! First we drove for two hours in the back of a pick up truck, then we were lumbered into the back of another jeep thing with an open back and drove for an hour along a dirt track. Now the back of this thing would have comfortably sat 6 people- not in Asia. As well as Gerry and I, there were 5 other men, a lady- with a baby and a load of supplies for the village! We were getting thrown all over the place! The car kept getting stuck in the mud as well and the back end was skidding all over the place. At one point Gerry said 'don't look outside' we were on the verge of a sheer drop!! Finally we arrived at the village in one piece and started our trek into the forest. I have to admit I was being a bit of a baby but I don't really enjoy wading through a swamp! Gerry thought I was going to start crying at one point but I was just being moany : ) after walking through mud and uphill for about an hour and a half I was seriously fed up and started thinking 'this bloody better be worth it' I'm sure you can all picture my face : ) Eventually we got to the first zip line, had a (very!) brief safety chat and off we went. Apologies for being cheesy but oh my god it was amazing!!!!! As you came out of the trees all you could see for miles was the top of the forest- I've never seen a view like this in my life and know that I probably won't again. It actually felt like you were flying.  As torturous as it was, the journey there was definitely worth it. After the first zip line we were left to zip around a section of the cables on our own, which was fun but you had to be pretty vigilant with the equipment as the guide wasn't there to help and the lines are 200m in the air! we also seen a gibbon basically as soon as we arrived, swinging in the trees!! That was pretty cool as I've never seen as animal like that in the wild before.

The guide then showed us to the treehouse. The one we had was pretty impressive, it had three levels! The shower was also pretty cool as it was completely open to the forest, felt a bit weird at first but it's the best view I've ever had in the shower! We were all a bit shocked when the guide then left and said he would be back in the morning... Ok then, so you are just leaving us here stuck in a treehouse in the middle of the forest? Looks like it!! It was fine but dread to think what would have happened in an emergency! In our group there was us two, a German girl and two 18 year Dutch girls. That night, as it became pitch black, it did get pretty scary. Me and Gerry, mature as ever, started to scare the Dutch girls whenever we heard a weird noise- they were giggling away though so I think they enjoyed it really : ) we also taught them how to play scabby Queen- which one of them especially enjoyed. 

The next morning we woke at 6am to the sound of the gibbons singing. We asked the guide why they sing but his English wasn't the best but I think basically if they are happy they will sing but if not they won't! A bit like humans then! We then set off on a 6 hour trek through the forest. This was pretty hard going but it seemed that just as the walk was getting to the point of complete torture, we would come to another zip line and everyone would be happy and amazed at the experience again. I felt sorry for the German girl in our group as she was bitten by leeches 6 times!!!! They are disgusting little things!! When we stopped for lunch on of the Dutch girls took off her sock as it was covered in blood stains and guess what was  in there...5  leeches!!! Yuck. Luckily Gerry and I managed to avoid them. We had lunch in another tree house and the guide told us to meet him in half an hour- after lunch we all fell asleep though so he had to come back and get us : ) that night we also all fell asleep at 8pm!! I think it must have been all the trekking! 

We woke up on our last morning and took in the view for the last time- waking up in the morning and seeing all the mist hanging over the trees is pretty amazing, the pictures definitely don't do it justice. After breakfast (our first meal of the whole 3 days that didn't involve rice!) we spent an hour on the zip lines and then it was time to say goodbye. All in all this was an amazing experience and I would jump at the chance to do it again (despite my moaning) if you ever get the chance to do it then definitely go for it! 

Posted by Gerry and holly 23:34 Archived in Laos Tagged the gibbon experience Comments (0)

Chiang Mai

sunny 30 °C

After a 16 hour train journey with Dragon and Mango (the Chinese students who we shared a compartment with) we finally arrived in Chiang Mai. The first thing we noticed was that it was cooler than Bangkok (thankfully). It's also a lot less busy here and more relaxed.

Sunday night we headed to the famous night market. After not really eating much in Bangkok we certainly made up for it that night- I think we must have sampled the food from every stall. Afterwards we went out for one too many drinks and got more food on the way home. Both woke up in the morning with bracelets saying 'wolf pack' on them. Neither of us can remember why we bought them, but judging from the pictures we found it pretty funny at the time. Much to Gerry's annoyance I was up at the crack of dawn as we had decided to go to Tiger Kingdom and to say I was excited was an understatement. The kind couple at our hotel arranged for a taxi to take us there and off we went. I was not disappointed!! Originally I had said I would only go in with the tiger cubs but I must have felt brave when we got there as I managed to persuade Gerry to go in with the smallest, small, medium and large tigers. It was amazing!!! The babies were so cute and playful (although I think I knelt in pee) and the big ones weren't as half as scary as I thought they would be. Until that is one of the trainers came up behind me as I was leaving the cage and grabbed my leg!! I nearly actually jobbied myself! If I came here again I would definitely go back : ) 

Woke  up on Tuesday to find that l was eaten alive during night, the wee b**tards. Holly decided to tell me that they are attracted to our ankles because they give off a scent? Aye what kind of scent holly, it's like cheese she says, that lassie is half daft I'm telling ye. Ok so went to Baan Chang elephant park and we were Mahouts for the day (elephant trainers) got in our car with a Chinese couple and 2 girls from england, who thought we were Irish? Eh? First thing we done at the park was feed the elephants, didn't know they loved bananas so much, there were around 20 elephants so we had to feed each of them which proved to be more harder than it sounds. Trying to walk by an elephant with a bunch of bananas in your hand is no mean feat,  it's like trying to walk by Holly with chocolate and not letting her get any, can't be done. This was good tho, it allowed us to get up close to them. Next on the agenda was learning to talk to them and direct them when we were on their back. I though Holly was going to struggle getting onto the Elephant but she managed to do it, well done hen. I was the first to get on the Elephant and say the commands, as you can imagine the Elephant didn't really understand the Scottish accent but it was fun. In the afternoon we went on a 1 hour trek with the elephants and then we had to bath them in the pool. This was the highlight of the day as you could tell they loved it, I didn't love it when they decided to take a crap in the pool next to us but where else will they go. I didn't know Elephants could smile before today but the ones today definitely did, see the pictures for proof.

Next thing on our list of things to do in Chiang Mai was a Thai cooking class- obviously another activity chosen by me : ) Since there are loads of cooking classes in Chiang Mai, we asked the couple at our hotel for a recommendation and they suggested Asia Scenic- we were not disappointed. To start we taken to the herb garden and told about all the different herbs used in Thai cooking- I found this really interested , not sure Gerry really felt the same, I'm positive he was sleeping under those sunglasses. Next we were taken to the market and shown more ingredients- I didn't realise there were so many different types of rice! I also didn't realise that to make sticky rice you have to use a special type of rice called sticky rice, funnily enough. Then the cooking began! We cooked six different dishes each and in each category there were a choice of four, so we made an appetiser, stir fry, curry paste, curry, soup and dessert- we also got to eat everything that we cooked : ) top of my list to cook were pad Thai and papaya salad as I have been addicted to both since arriving here. So you guys are in for a treat when I get home as I think they will be my new speciality. I don't know what was wrong with me at the class as I wasn't my usual competitive self- I even said to Gerry that a couple of his dishes were better than mine! Although at the beginning of the class Arry (our teacher for the day) said that he could tell who had cooked before by the way they used a knife - I knew for a fact that he was referring to me : ) At the end we were given a lovely cook book to take home which I thought was a really nice touch. 

Ok so now it was my turn to chose an activity to do. I had been told by many friends that the treks were amazing so we decided to pursue this. We decided to do the two day/one night trek. The drive out to where the trek began took roughly an hour however this flew in as we met the rest of the group on the way there. We had a good mix of people, 2 couples from England, 2 girls from Spain and a girl from South Korea. The trip began with another Elephant ride, I was getting a bit bored of them, once you've been on one the novelty wears off. After this the walking began, l kept asking Holly, "are you ready for this" to which she kept replying YES with that look on her face, you know what I mean ;-) gotta give her credit though, on the way up the mountains she was always at the front, she probably fancied the guide ;-) 
I have to admit the trek was hard, I was surprised how hard it was, a combination of the heat and vertical gradient didn't help. To speed things up the guide took us through and over the mountain instead of around it, nearly sh*t myself a couple of times when I seen spiders, not good. Eventually we got to our base for the night, we were staying with the hill tribe and camp was a bamboo hut. The local children then tried to sell the local produce,  i.e bracelets and necklaces, Holly decided not to buy anything but give her bracelets to them. I think it's meant to happen the other way around my dear. About three of them ran away with her bracelets laughing, I'm sure the said to each other in the local language, "we just stung her eh" ;-) the evening ended with the guide playing his guitar and showing us card and magic tricks, it was a good laugh. Oh aye forgot to say, the views were amazing, the photos don't do them justice.
Day 2 of the trek involved going back down the hill, white water rafting and bamboo rafting. You would think it was easier going back down but not with holly, she wore the wrong type of footwear, she slipped on her bum a few times, so we took it slow. After our morning shower under a waterfall, sounds good eh, we walked down stream to the white water rafting. Holly had a nervous look on her face firstly because she had never done it before and secondly because she's not the strongest swimmer.  It was pretty calm, however there was one bit where the guy shouted "DOWN" which means you crouch down inside the dinghy, you should have seen the fear on her face, we all burst out laughing. After this it was the bamboo rafting, nothing to report here, it wasn't that exciting. It was then homeward bound after lunch, a great experience, seen some great places and met some great people.

Posted by Gerry and holly 23:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Gerry and Holly's Travels

First stop Bangkok

sunny 28 °C

So we arrived in Bangkok and it was nearly our first and last stop. Whilst trying to run across the road weighed down by our heavy backpacks, about twenty angry motorbikes hurtled towards us- needless to say Gerry continued to stroll across calmly whilst I ran towards the pavement screaming. Nothing new there then. Arrived at the hostel and were pleasantly surprised as it was more like a hotel- not the flea pits I had been expecting, thumbs up to the @ Hua Lamphong. Although we were shattered we dumped our bags and went out for a walk- headed down to Siam Square and nearly got ran over another three times- I think the motorbikes were chasing me. Gerry seemed to get the hang of the road crossing pretty quickly whilst I still stand poised at the edge of the pavement with a terrified look on my face. 
We wandered around the MBK centre for a while and then went for food at a Thai restaurant. The meal was very nice. What was not so nice was stepping outside and seeing a dog be sick in the street... and then eating it! Time for bed I think. 

That night we slept for 13 hours so woke in the morning feeling nice and refreshed. Day two we decided to visit the Grand Palace and get templed oot our nut : ) this was also our first experience in a tuk tuk. Tuk tuk drivers are maniacs! I swear the thing was up on one wheel when he took a corner at break neck speed- it was fun though. Arrived at the  Grand Palace, paid the driver and then the lies began. Here are some of the many lies we were told outside the Grand Palace; 'It is a Buddhist holiday so the palace does not open until 1pm', 'The monks are praying so you cannot go to the palace until 1pm', 'Only Thai people can use that entrance', 'You need ID to enter the palace', 'You cannot borrow clothes until after 12'. ALL LIES. If someone had asked me one more time if I wanted to the see the 'big Buddha' I was going to scream! When the third Thai man asked me I turned round and said 'I seen it yesterday' he looked so disappointed and just went 'oh...'
Although there is an announcement playing outside the Grand palace which says 'do not trust anyone who tries to divert or delay your visit to the Palace' and signs which state 'beware wiley strangers' when someone who looks like they work there tries to stop you from going in its hard not to listen. After walking past the entrance three times I had finally had enough, 'Right Gerry I'm just going in, I don't care what they say, if that man with the gun tries to stop me then fine but if it's anyone else I'm not listening' with that I marched in and it worked!! 
Inside the palace was lovely, the detail of the temples is amazing. Inside the palace is also the temple of the emerald Buddha. I was a bit disappointed by this as I thought the Buddha would  be bigger- maybe it was because of all the chat about the big Buddha outside. Gerry said this was his favourite though. 
Next stop was lunch (obviously) and then Wat Po, the temple of the reclining Buddha. On the way there I seen a wee lady be sick in the street- what is it with people/ animals being sick here?! The reclining Buddha was pretty impressive, I especially liked the feet ( when you see the pic you'll know what I mean).
By this point we were feeling a bit templed out but decided to get the boat over to Wat Arun- the temple of Dawn. The good thing about this temple is you can climb up it and the views are really good. The steps are very steep though, I was clinging on for dear life on the way down. 
We decided to walk back to the hostel as it gave us a chance to walk through Chinatown, which was interesting as it was nothing like anything we had ever seen before. When I picture Asia in my head this is what it is like, busy streets with stalls everywhere selling all kinds of unrecognisable things. I think Gerry started to get a bit irritated when I kept asking him what things were 'how the hell am I supposed to know' I suppose he has a point : ) 

We went back to the hostel for a quick change and then took a tuk tuk to Khao San Road which is the main backpacker hub in Bangkok. It kind of reminded me of an Asian Magaluf but with constant 'you want to see ping pong show?' Eh naw. After Thai curry, a bucket and a couple of beers the real party began- a chicken kebab on the way home : ) Enough said. 

Day three arrived and this was floating market day plus market on the train tracks then a boat trip to see fire flies, woohoo indeed. We decided to take a tour guide to see these instead of organising it ourselves, don't know why cos its easy to get around. Got picked up in our wee mini van and were accompanied by a couple from china, didn't really talk to them, we couldn't really understand what they were saying, don't know why ;-)
First stop was the train market, our guide took us through a couple of small alley ways and next thing l knew was we were on train tracks, my immediate thoughts were "is this it"? However after a brief discussion with the guide we walked through the market and eventually saw the train and then it hit home. The train was massive and the space at either side of the track wasn't great, anyway you will see yourself from the pic. After that we went along to the floating market. This was nice but nothing like me and holly expected. Again there was a market on each side of the river ( they love their markets over here) selling everything you can imagine plus a lot of seafood. I didn't really partake in the seafood as the colour of the water put me right off. Got talking to some you Thai children who asked where we were from they also said to holly "a you beautiful" and smiled think they meant you are beautiful, holly liked it anyway. That's the thing l love about the people over here, they have always 
got a smile on their face, l hope l take this home with me. It then got dark very quick and the thunder started, this is when our guide appeared in the long boat to take us to see fire flies. It was good being in the boat however after about 5mins, the lighting started and the rain belted down. We took cover under a road bridge along with another 8 long boats. We were under the bridge for around 20 mins so l thought, give up the ghost pal lets just go back cos we are bored now but he stuck it out and we hell for leather when it stopped. Approached the banks of the river to see the fire flies, l must admit it was good seeing them in person.  Also seen a dog trying to rape another dog buts that's another story.

Day 4 - this was our last day in Bangkok today and didn't have much planned. We decided to head back up to Siam square where the main shopping centres and that are. We wandered by accident into a Japanese festival. At first we seen a lot of Japanese people dressed up as Pokemon and cartoon characters, we were like, what the hell's going on here, then we figured it out and decided to take pics, l let holly take the pics of the girls cos l didn't want to look like a weirdo taking pics of young girls, there was already a lot of guys doing that. We then found a park to chill out in and managed to get some photos of turtles, which was cool. There were also a lot of pigeons here, l tried to get holly to walk through them and conquer her fears but to no avail, it will happen holly. As we were leaving the park we seen a sign saying staff and university students only so we quickened the pace outta there. After that it was onto the train station for the sleeper train the Chiang Mai, which is where you find me now writing this blog. We will update you guys next week on Chiang Mai however l dont think it will be as in depth as this, probably because we haven't got 14 hours to spare on a train. 

Until next time
Love you guys
Gerry & holly.x

Posted by Gerry and holly 07:45 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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