Zip da de do dah, zip da de day

November 9, 2011 - Nam Tha, Laos

After a solid day of zip lining yesterday, a partial sighting of a gibbon and a definite sighting of a giant black squirrel, it is nice to be in a town with a few creature comforts - like my first hot shower since arriving in Laos.

We saw the giant black squirrel from our treehouse just before we headed out on a morning trek up the side of a very slippery hill. It was here that we saw the treetops moving and could see some shapes in the distance which apparently were gibbon... others near the front of my group had a better view than me, but I'm counting it as a sighting.

After returning to our treehouse for breakfast we headed out for about four hours, trekking and zip lining around the jungle and checking out treehouses number seven, three and two (which is designated as the honeymoon suite!). I really enjoyed the luxurious jungle living, and getting the chance to see the jungle up close, from the air and the ground. We did quite a few zips, but to get anywhere, there was usually a lot of trekkng uphill too, so it was quite tiring. One of the things that marvelled our group was watching Pochoa, one of our guides (the other was Yia Lao), zip to our treehouse with a boiling hot kettle. There are little campfires that the guides use near our treehouses (not in, considering the fate of the original treehouse number one) to boil water for us, and the meals are provided from one of two kitchens located at each end of the treehouse layout of about 5km or so in length and 3km or so in breadth. Zipping to work each day sure would be an unusual experience, but the staff also sleep in the village, with the harsh conditions that many people in rural Laos face.

We got a glimpse of village life at the end of the trip, because our songathews had difficulty navigating the extremely muddy road after rain overnight. We spent a good hour wandering around the village with the pigs, ducks, dogs and cats - that all seem to get along harmoniously - taking photos and generally exploring village life.

The journey along the very muddy and slippery road was expertly navigated by our drivers, and I was met at Ban Don Chai by my pre-arranged driver to take me the remaining distance to Luang Nam Tha. A quick lunch of more rice, vegetables and the occasional piece of chicken and farewells all-round to my treehouse group, then I was on the road again.

Although travelling on a good bitumen road, the speed limit is only 60km/hour, so the trip took a couple of hours and I was very grateful to be greeted by a hot shower in the Sokxaythone Resort Hotel. Thinking that I had a rest day tomorrow, it was somewhat of a shock to learn that my three-day trekking and kayaking trip started in the morning. So I spent the evening doing a quick load of handwashing to get some of the mud off my clothes, a phone call to Dad for his birthday, and dinner at the Panda Restaurant - yummy noodles with vegetables and chicken, washed down with Lao tea.

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Guide brining our morning hot kettle
Remnants of original treehouse number one
More of what used to be treehouse number one
Breakfast being cooked, day three
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