The Frothers Guide to Life in the Jungles of Laos
Pure, undefiled darkness envelopes your entire being. Thick and heavy, so that even your hands are obscured right in front of your eyes.
There is sound. Raw beastly grunts and growls, chirps, whirs and the chatter of unseen figures, dancing in the darkness all around.
An ethereal culmination of stillness and life surrounds you.
This is what it’s like waking up in the middle of the night, deep in the jungles of the Bokeo Province in Northern Laos.
Laos is a landlocked country in South East Asia, bordered by the more traditionally popular tourist hotspots such as Thailand to the west, Cambodia to the south, Vietnam to the east and China to the northwest.
Often overlooked in favour of its neighbours, Laos is truly a hidden gem in the South East Asian crown. Monks robed in burnt amber garments meander down cobbled streets and dirt roads alike. Mimicking the movement of the mighty Mekong River on which it borders with Thailand to the west. Great expanses of lush jungle envelop vast stretches of the country, untouched and ripe with unique natural wonder.
The beauty of the land is matched only by the nature of its people, who radiate a sense of enlightenment though their gentleness and welcoming.
Laos boasts two main cities, the capitol; Vientiane and UNESCO world heritage site; Luang Prabang, both of which encapsulate the simple riverside lifestyle that the Laotians exude down to a tee. However, crossing the mighty Mekong from Northern Thailand to the border town of Huay Xai, you’re thrust headlong into the unique blend of a raw, rustic Laotian village life infused with a vivacious backpacker vibe.
Its main street boasts a couple of hundred metres of simple yet comfortable guest houses and quaint little riverside restaurants and bars. Dining in Laos showcases the locals laid back attitude towards everything, so don’t plan on eating in a hurry. However watching the sunset over the mighty Mekong with a nice cold bottle of Beer Laos makes for a breathtaking way to wait for your meal and immerse yourself in the tranquillity of Huay Xai.
Along the main road you’ll come across a small shop, with the words The Gibbon Experience emblazoned across its glass doors. The Gibbon Experience takes tourists deep into the jungles of the Bokeo Province for a three day eco-tourism adventure. Driving three hours off road from Huay Xai in the back of an open air truck takes adventurers to a tiny Laotian village nestled in the jungle. From there, after allowing the villagers, (still becoming accustomed to strangers coming to their village) to marvel over you, a 2-3 hour trek will bring you to the epitome of the Gibbon Experience.
Zip lines, some stretching up to a kilometre in length, allow for a convenient method of traversing the deep valleys of the jungle while taking in a spectacular view along the way.
They also act as a means of transporting you to your new home for the next two nights – a custom built tree house from which one can truly marvel at the omnipotent natural world spanning as far as the eye can see.
The serenity in a place so in contrast to the citified modern-world, gives it a spirituality all of its own. A neoteric, enchanting blend of new life with ancient wonder. This unique duality really summarises what Laos is aspiring to become as a tourist destination, bringing new life to its endless ancient wonder.