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My first leech and other tales from the jungle

Houayxay, Laos

There is little to do in Houayxay town itself it serves as a border crossing to Thailand across the swollen Mekong river and you can also take river boats from there to central Laos a trip i'd be taking later in the week. The town another one street quiet place is also home to the gibbon experience a trekking and zip wiring health and safety nightmare in the Borkeo national park just north of the town. The idea is you stay in tree houses up to 150 meters off the ground, zip around in the jungle canopy for a day and if your lucky see some gibbons.

Its a 3 day trip and due to the rain a tough trek is involved, during the dry season you just get driven to the local village and make the short walk to the first tree house. However because the river block the road this time of year we had to walk about 30 kilometres to the village first.

The walk wasn't to bad though it was very muddy and despite the morning rain still hot by lunchtime. Once at the village the mud only thickened and we had no option but to trudge through up to our shins. It was good fun until the very end when after 6 hours walking we had to ascend a fair few "steps" which offered little grip for my tired feet. So I slid my way up and finally arrived at the camp to be presented with a zip wire harness

A quick mention of my fellow walkers, we had a nice group of 7 2 Dutch sister form Amsterdam with unspellable names, Luca and Christian from Milan and Andrei and Kerry from London, the latter where on the honeymoon!

So strapped up we tolled up yet more steps and came to our first wire. ABout 100 meters long it led straight to a tree house.
Zip lining is very easy and I felt surprisingly safe and comfortable doing it despite the fact that the closest decent hospital was back in Kunming. You just let yourself go enjoy the view and then brake fore you hit the tree at the other end.

The tree house was also great. With 3 levels it had a separate toilet and shower, a stove and 3 beds, sadly it also had rats. The night was spent trying not to think about how close the rat was to me though I discovered it got within at least a foot after finding a few holes in my rucksack the next morning. We also woke early in the hope of seeing or hearing gibbons but there where none as it was raining hard.

Tired and with stiff muscles we set of for a days zipping. The lines further into the jungle where spectacular. Starting seemingly just surrounded by bamboo and trees the ground would drop away leaving incredible views down beautiful jungle valleys the wires where up to 150 meters in the air around 50 floors and some where as long as 350 meters

By the afternoon we arrived at the second tree house. A huge tree on the edge of a deep valley with a waterfall and river running through it. Again the views where great.

The final day was spent hiking back out of the jungle a longer trip then going in and it took us through some paths that where actually streams here is where I met my first leeches. They walk like slinky's and are tiny so the sneak in unnoticed. Even the bite is fairly painless. I wasn't really checking until someone else got one then rolled up my shorts and found several around my knees. One was fairly large so had been there for a while but with a spray of deet insect repellent it soon dropped off and left a little hole. The problem comes from the blood thinner they excrete so they can consume your blood quicker, it causes you to look like your bleeding lots when in fact your bleeding very little, a touch disconcerting at the time.

Exhausted we got back to Hoayxai around 5pm and had a big strength regaining BBQ the Lao like to grill there meet so the food here has been pretty good up to know.

The trip was great fun despite the lack of gibbons and if your ever in Laos I would more than recommend it, maybe do it in the dry season though.

permalink written by  Dan on August 15, 2008 from Houayxay, Laos
from the travel blog: Been there, Dan that!
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To be frank Dan .... root canal work would be preferable, but whatever rings your bell!
Your Mother

permalink written by  carol atherton on August 18, 2008

Nice one! I'm so glad you did that trip it looked really cool on the website. the zip wires look amazing - great pictures

By the way - were the leeches pale brown and quite small before they suckered on? I met some in the phillipenes and Jamie thought I was being hysterical. They definitely walked like slinkies - almost as much as your average caterpillar... hmmm. I think we need to discuss this further.


permalink written by  helen on August 20, 2008

They where tiny, like little pieces of thread. You could spot them on the path sort of smelling out there prey. The really anoying ones sucked with both ends!!!

permalink written by  Dan on August 21, 2008

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