And we survived the Gibbon Experience! We had an amazing 3 days in the Bokeo jungle; treking, zooming along zip lines high up in the trees and sleeping in a treehouse 200ft in the air, in the canopy of the trees. Although, unfortunately, we didn't actually see in Gibbons, we could hear them from our treehouse in the mornings and evenings. I can't reccommend the Gibbon Experience enough. The guides were fantastic, very eager to take us out and explore the jungle. The zip lines were a tad dangerous, but so much fun! I am now covered in bruises, with some swelling in my arm that's only just going down over a week later - I wasn't overly skilled at using the brakes! But it was brilliant fun and so worth the bruising!
On the first day, after watching a brief safety video on how to use the harnesses and zip lines, we all (12 of us) jumped in to the back of a couple of utes, and headed off towards the jungle. A couple of hours later, we arrived at a small village were our trekking was going to begin. As we started walking, we met the rest of our grounp - a good bunch - and at the second rest stop, we were split in to 3 groups - a group of 6 who were doing the "spa" experience - basically a lot more expensive, but the same apart from an evening massage and some free wine! - a group of 4 (us) and a group of 2 (an aussie couple). We were paired with a well travelled aussie guy (Aaron) who was about our age, and a young guy from london who was on his first big trip. We trekked for maybe an hour before arriving to at our first zip line. It was VERY scary getting on to the first one, they zoom sooooo fast through the air and you have to be very carefull not to get your fingers or hair in the way!! But it was also absolutely amazing, we were flying so high in the air, over valleys with the tree tops far below us. After another couple of hours of trekking and zipping, we arrived at our new temporary home - our tree house. We zip lined in and made ourselves at home. We spent our first night relaxing, eating and talking. Aaron was making his way home to Australia from a year and half of travelling, mostly through South America - so we spent hours picking his brain for tips for our trip.
The next morning we were up with sun, ready to start some trekking. With a few stops for breakfast, lunch and rests, we spent from 6 am until about 3 pm trekking and zip lining through the forest, looking for wildlife and checking out the other tree houses. By 3 we were given the option to spend longer playing on the zip lines, or head back to the tree to chill. We were wrecked and ready for some relaxing! After showering and eating, the four of us spent the rest of the night playing s*** head (the card game), before turning in around 8.30.
The next morning was an even earlier start and we started our trek before the sun came up. Zip lining in the dark was pretty scary, but luckily the only one we had to do was exiting the tree house. After around 20 minutes of trekking, the sun had come up, so zipping felt a bit safer again! After finishing our trek we were taken to a shop/restaurant for some food before arriving back in Huay Xia around 3pm. We had decided to head for Thailand instead of spending another night in the expensive border town, so we headed down to the river, went through the most informal passport control possible, before jumping on a little boat to cross to the other side. The thai passport control was just as chilled!
We had been planning on spending the night in Chaing Khong (the border town on Thailand's side), but once we got there we saw that there wasn't much going on, so we jumped on a local bus to Chiang Rai. The bus was a rickety old thing and we were sure it was going to break down as soon as we left the town. But we were in luck, and it was actually a pretty good bus journey. A pretty major downside was that about half way to Chiang Ria we came across a accident in the middle of the road - big bus vs a young girl on a scotter. There were police everywhere and a big crowd. The girl was lying in the middle of the road, obviously dead, with a broken neck, yet no one had bothered to cover up. It was a horrible sight and not one either of ever wants to see again.
Arriving in Chaing Rai, we found a room and Jas went straight to bed because he wasn't feeling well. I went out for an explore and found a brilliant night market. There was a big stage set up, with 5 absolutely stunning girls doing some traditional thai dancing. I found out the next morning that they were actually lady boys - would never have guessed!!
The next day, after some breakie, we headed off another bus - this time to Chaing Mai. The bus journey was painless, although it did take us a while to find some accommodation once we got there as a lot of places were full. We ended up in a pretty little place called the bluehouse and settled ourselves in their cosy little garden for some beers (our first in 6 days - it was good!).
The next day we explored Chiang Mai old town. It's very pretty. The old town is in the centre of the city and is surrounded by a moat. In some places the city wall is still standing. In the evening we chilled in a roof top reggae bar, before checking out the HUGE night markets.
The next morning we had a lazy wander and some food before heading out the airport and catching a flight back down the Bangkok. We only had one night in Bangkok before flying down to Phuket to meet my dad and Megan, and we had decided that we really couldn't face going to the Kao San Road area and dealing with millions of drunk annoying english and irish. So we decided to splash out and book a hotel! We spent a whole 35 bucks and got a flash room in Silom. It was awesome! We caught the sky train there (bit of an ordeal with a backpack - but worth it for the views) and checked in, getting majorly over excited about the size of the bathroom and all the mod cons - air con, tv, hot water, a fridge! After a bit of a wander round all shops, we decided to dress up and have our first blow out night. Me in a dress, Jas in a shirt, we jumped in a cab to check out the Sirocco sky bar - a roof top bar (64th floor) on a fancy hotel. We couldn't quite believe how fancy it was! Porters every where to greet you, lots of dressed up waiters and waiteresses with perfect english and the most expensive cocktail list we've seen since leaving home!!! The view was spectacular and my mojito was beautiful.
Obviously we couldn't afford to stay for more than one drink, so we chilled out and took our time over them, munching on some fancy bar snacks (pre-peeled pistacios and olives) and taking photos. Once we'd finished, we jumped in another cab back to Silom and wandered to find something for diner. We ended up in a beautiful Spanish restaurant where we got a bit drunk on tasty Sangria and ate far too much tapas! All in all, a very romantic night out!
The next morning we headed to the airport to fly down to Phuket to meet my dad and Megan for 2 weeks (very exciting!!). Jas and I were the first to arrive and immediately loved the little 2 bed villa Megan had booked. Mostly because it had a brilliant private pool. So we jumped straight in and waited for the others to arrive.