Visual sightings on gibbons? Negative
Hearing their distinctive call from afar? Affirmative
Experiencing life as the gibbons do? Double affirmative and it was a hoot!
The Gibbon Experience was both exhilarating and interesting. It was exhilarating to be sleeping 60 metres in the air, in a real tree, where the only way in and out was to hang in a harness on a thin cable and hope for the best. Exhilarating to wake up to mist-shrouded valleys, listening to all the jungle sounds and have breakfast and dinner delivered to us by guides who ziplined the food in. Exhilarating to go to the toilet in a 'room with a view' (i.e. it looked straight down to the jungle floor). And soooooo much fun ziplining around the treetop jungle canopy on single stretches of cable up 415 metres in length. Just like the gibbons do on the trees (except they generally don't try and take action photos at the same time).
It was interesting for a whole bunch of different reasons. Interesting to get to know the native wildlife on our first night (read: rats in the treehouse roof kept us awake all night - especially the one who RAN OVER MY BODY, then got stuck in the mosquito net). After surveying the damage the next morning, we were lucky that they had only gnawed holes in two of the groups' backpacks and chewed/dragged one toothbrush across the length of the treehouse (it seems rats are also interested in dental hygiene).
Interesting on the second night to find ourselves middle of a thunderstorm.....in a treehouse....60m high....with metal cables all around us....swaying in the wind.... without any guides (they sleep at ground level in the village). We soon realised there would be no evacuation plan required if lightening struck. Needless to say, we did not fry and were treated to an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime display of nature (albeit a very wet and uncomfortable one).
Now back in Luang Prabang after 10 hour bus trip. I didn't think it possible for someone to throw up continually with motion sickness for seven hours straight. IT IS. This was kindly demonstrated by the local Laos lady who sat on the floor in the aisle of the bus (next to me) with her plastic bag for SEVEN of the longest hours of my life. I will leave it to your imagination, but let's just say there are some sounds that even an iPod at full volume can't drown out.