54 Hours in the Jungle: Surviving the Gibbon's Experience

Heading into the jungle with the Gibbon’s Experience was one of our most anticipated events on this trip – we had heard oodles of positive things about it and many people ranked it as their number one Southeast Asia experience. For us, it was definitely an experience – although whether positive or not, I’ll let you be the judge. I’m going to break it down into the events that transpired over our 54 hours of living in the jungle.

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Straight out of National Geographic: Visiting the hill tribes of Northern Laos

Scott and I weren’t really sure what to expect from the two-day tour we had signed up for in Laos; the itinerary was a two-day adventure beginning with a trek to a remote village north of Luang Prabang where we would spend the night, followed by some kayaking and a ride on an elephant. With open minds, we embarked on our next chapter in the Excellent Adventure saga.

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Lovely Little Landlocked Laos

Laos has been a really nice change of pace – compared to Vietnam and Thailand, this place is the most chilled out country ever. In fact, the local joke here is that the official name of Lao PDR (People’s Democratic Republic) really stands for Lao – Please Don’t Rush. But really, what do you expect from a country that only has a population of roughly seven million? In Vietnam, people selling you stuff were all over you and would bargain to the death; in Laos, you’ll be lucky if someone will even pay attention to you long enough for you to try to buy something, and bargaining is basically a two-step process: you ask the price, and make a counter offer – if your counter offer is accepted, great, if not, they may or may not be energetic enough to make another counter offer. But whereas in Vietnam or Thailand you’ll get three or four rounds of price changes, there’s pretty much a maximum of two in Laos. At first the lack of haggling and a constant chorus of “Tuk Tuk Sir!” was disconcerting, but after getting used to calmness again, it really is pleasant. As odd as it sounds, we’ve grown accustomed to being constantly bombarded with offers and learned to not only be comfortable with it, but to use it to our advantage; now that we actually have to go ask for stuff, we feel a little weird. Coming home is going to blow our minds!  You mean I have to actually pay the full $2.35 for a coffee?

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