The monkeys had better be worth it.
That was the thought going through my head as I hit it (again) on the ridiculously low ceiling of our boat. It's day two of the slow-boat journey upstream on the Mekong River towards Huayxai, across the river border with Thailand.
Why? To see monkeys. The rare and endangered black-crested gibbons to be exact. I must confess, I don't really know anything about gibbons but this is an amazing opportunity to spend time amongst them in their natural habitat and an eco-experience that has travellers raving.
Getting to Huayxai by boat has been half the fun. Best described as open-air vessels, the boats are about 20 metres long, with two rows of ex-car seats inside and can 'techically' seat about 70 people, give or take 20. Actually quite comfortable, despite the free-form seating and non-attachment to anything solid, e.g. the floor. South-East Asia is like a health and safety renovator's delight!
The Mekong River scenery has been incredibly diverse and the past two days have had everything from limestone cliffs to palm trees, jungle, vegetable patches, white sandy beaches, amazing river rock formations and class 1-2 rapids. It's an effort for the diesel motors in this direction, against the river flow all the way. The two day trip is broken by an overnight stay at a small town (Pak Beng) where travellers, from all the boats from both directions, disembark and find a bed for the night.
This traveller is very excited to be spending the next three days jungle trekking, visiting waterfalls, ziplining and staying in treehouses to hopefully see and hear the elusive monkeys that we have travelled so far to find.
For a sneak preview of what's to come, check out: