BootsnAll Travel Network

The Gibbon Photos

October 9th, 2007

So, I’m home. I’m unemployed. And I’ve got thousands upon thousands of photos to go through. Rather than bore you with more words, I’m gonna hit you with just a couple of those photos, because that’s what the kids love these days – travel blogs with photos.

Starting right here, with the Gibbon Experience…….. you remember the Gibbon Experience don’t you? Just click on the pics for a larger view…

On the way to the treehouses, having crossed the river in the 4WD, at some points we still had to vacate the car so it could make it up some of the muddier hills.

Zipping through and over the jungle – bloody amazing….. Notice in the first photo you can’t even see where the zip line started from it was that far away. And going through the clouds was breathtakingly surreal.
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The treehouse we got engaged in. If you look closely at the first pic you’ll see Bec standing at the bottom of the tree, below the treehouse. The first two photos were both taken whilst zipping through the air, the second one is on the way into the treehouse, the zip line being the only way to get there. It shows the split level – the main section being the loungeroom/kitchen/bedroom/entertaining area (as seen in the last photo), and downstairs to the left is the bathroom/toilet.
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Our guides. The first one was taken first thing in the morning, whilst we followed our black-clad guide through the middle of the jungle (making our own path as we went) searching for gibbons. And finally, a small sample of the scratches I ended up with after blazing that trail through the jungle
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I love this photo, as the somewhat blank look on Catherine’s face sort of captures the exhaustion that cancels out the amazement that I’m sure we were all feeling in regard to where we were and what we were doing. The legs belong to her husband Simon. They had got married only a month or two before, and this day was Cath’s birthday. Thankfully Simon had generously let Bec and I stay in the private treehouse……. as that proposal would have been all the more nerve-wracking if I had to do it in a treehouse we were sharing with four other people. This was taken in one of the treehouses – check out the piles of muddied boots scattered around in the background.

Getting around on foot….. through mud, creeks, and rivers. And finally, Bec and Tom, a friendly German, taking a well-earned break in a small village on the trek home. Notice the mud and grease all over Bec’s top, coming mostly from the splash-back of the grease from the rollers whilst zipping around.
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Once we buy a new computer I’ll get around to making a little movie of our time at the Gibbon Experience, because that’s what else the kids love these days – travel blogs with movies. Because who’s got time to read anything anymore?

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Koh Pha Ngan: Lazy is as Lazy does

October 7th, 2007

During the course of our travels in Southeast Asia, soon to total almost four months in two stints, my fiancee and I (Ha! I love saying that) have spent more than enough time in Bangkok. As a transit hub it is almost impossible to avoid. And so after flying in from Hanoi we spent just one night around Khao San Road before catching an overnight bus south, to within a boat ride of some of Thailand’s most famous islands.

Normally, we try and avoid the horribly touristy areas, generally preferring to visit quieter, out-of-the-way places. And when heading to a beach in Thailand, our attitude was exactly that. A pristine, secluded beach with a few bungalows on the sand and maybe a bar (well, not maybe, definately a bar! But a quiet bar) and a stack of well-thumbed paperback thrillers to read, that was what we were after (but then, who isn’t?) What we wanted to avoid were the party beaches filled with wanna-be hippies twirling fire and taking drugs. Where we ended up was Koh Pha Ngan, an island famous for it Full Moon parties; a huge rave held once a month where the beach fills up with thousands of wanna-be hippies twirling fire and taking drugs and dancing to the sort of music (trance or someother such crap) that can generally only be tolerated whilst twirling fire and taking drugs.

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Breaking a rib……

October 3rd, 2007

Well, the leap sure was worth it. Great shot by Bec…..

Trying to break a rib in Halong Bay, Vietnam

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Halong Bay: Rib Tickler

October 2nd, 2007

I looked across to Bec from my position on the roof.

“Ok, you ready with the camera?”
“Right then. One……..two……..three!!!!!”

I leapt out into the fresh air and found myslef sideways, arms and legs flailing about crazily. Bec snapped away with the camera as I fell. I wanted the photo to be as dramatic as possible but in trying to achieve that (with the ridiculous flapping arms and legs) I somehow overlooked the fact that I was about to go crashing into the green water twelve feet below me. By the time I remembered, prompted somewhat by the green wall rushing up towards me at warp speed, it was too late to turn my body, and I slammed into the water almost horizontal. Sound disappeared. Water rushed up my nose.

After a few disorienting seconds I surfaced, coughing and spluttering.

“I think I broke my rib,” I called up to Bec, only half joking. I treaded water and attempted to catch my breath whilst taking in my surroundings. All around me, sticking up out of the water like black and green icebergs, were limestone karst mountains. There was just one other boat on our secluded little cove amongst the cliffs, and the sound of splashing and laughing was all that could be heard. This was Halong Bay, in the north of Vietnam.

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Hanoi: Bia Hoi Ahoy!

September 30th, 2007

With our bags bursting at the seams, including our extra bag – a small wheely bag stuffed full of wedding clothes, we said goodbye to Hoi An and caught an overnight bus north to Hanoi.

Two minutes into the trip, whilst the bus still slowly made its way along the flat straight streets of Hoi An, the lady in front of me started vomiting. Poor thing, it must be no fun getting car-sick, but come on – at least the previous chunderers we’d encountered had the excuse of winding mountain roads. Perhaps it is Bec and me who induce the vomiting, rather than the vehicle’s movement – the sight of a skinny tall redhead with pasty skin trying to squeeze into a tiny seat sends them over the edge. Thankfully she regained her composure and managed to halt the vomiting, hocking and spitting and the remainder of the trip passed rather smoothly.

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Hoi An: The Saviour

September 26th, 2007

After our lengthy, frustrating journey to get there, Hoi An proved itself to be worth the effort. Not for the first time, it was our saviour on a visit to Vietnam.

My friend Conor, writer of the greatest travel blog ever and superhero to orphans across Nepal (seriously, check out his blog at described Hoi An as ‘quaint’. And, as usual, he was pretty much spot on. Well, certainly when it comes to describing the architecture in the World Heritage listed town; for the narrow streets with their one and two storey terrace like buildings showing cracked yellow facades and wooden shutters over the windows conjure up few other words. The women pedalling dusty old bikes under their traditional conical hats, young and old alike, give the town an even greater old-timey feel.

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Thanh Hoa: Where are we?

September 19th, 2007

Our relief upon arriving at Thanh Hoa a little after 9pm, and finally being off that damn bus from the Vietnamese border, was tempered somewhat by the fact that it was raining, we were in a non-tourist town with no idea where we were, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast (save for some disgustingly buttery cookies), we had no idea if a bus would be going to Hanoi that night, or where it would go from, or if there was a hotel anywhere nearby.

As the four other travellers spoke to a taxi driver to try and explain that they wanted to go to a bus station (the bus had dropped us outside one particular bus station, but it was well and truly closed down for the night), Bec and I decided that we’d try and find a hotel and some much needed food. We resigned ourselves to staying in Thanh Hoa overnight, and getting to Hanoi the next day. Mercifully, just around the coner we spied the glowing neon sign of a hotel, and even more thankfully the rooms were decent and affordable.

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Nameo: One of those days…

September 1st, 2007

It was August 14th when we left Vieng Xai. We had planned to leave the day before to head across the border into Vietnam, but were told that buses only leave the border three times a week. So a lazy day was spent in Vieng Xai doing not much at all; Bec giving me a haircut was just about the highlight. Oh, that and buying a shirt at the local market, where I drew a nice crowd of curious women who all left their market stalls to come and watch whilst I tried the shirt on. A bit of gentle bargaining and the shirt was mine for just a few dollars. Three days later I threw it out.

We were disappointed to have spent the extra day there. Normally, we don’t have much of a timetable when we travel; shit happens when it wants to happen, and there’s not much you can do about it. But about a week earlier, we’d heard word that a couple of friends of ours were arriving in Hanoi on the 13th of August, so we made sure we would get to the Vietnamese border on the 13th. From there, Hanoi was little more than 200km away. A short bus ride, yes? That’s what you’d expect, right? Well, those expectations were way off, my friends, way off. I’m talking ‘expecting Iraq to resolve itself’ way off.

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Vieng Xai: Hidden Disco

August 30th, 2007

After a quiet night in Sam Neua, where we relished having a proper toilet, a proper shower, with hot water, and a proper bed that didn’t have leeches in it, we caught an early morning tuk-tuk an hour further towards the Vietnamese border to the town of Vieng Xai.

Vieng Xai is tucked away in an almost hidden valley, where it is surrounded by limestone karst mountains. And it was amongst the hundreds of caves that diappear into the depths of these limestone mountains that Laos’ communist party, the Pathet Laos, hid during the nine years of constant American bombing in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Laos, that most beautiful and serene of countries, has the unenviable distinction of being the most bombed country on the planet. During America’s war against communism in the region, fought mostly in Vietnam but also spilling over into Laos and Cambodia, America’s government records show that they dropped on the Laos countryside the equivalent of a plane load of bombs, every eight minutes, twenty-four hours a day, for nine years.

Holy crap balls!

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Muang Vieng Kham: Midnight Expres…. wait, what’s the opposite of Express?

August 27th, 2007

“Dave! Dave! Wake-up! The bus is here.”

It was 12.50am, we were in the town of Muang Vieng Kham, and the only bus coming through that little place to take us to our next destination of Vieng Xai on the Vietnamese border came through at one in the morning. Less than an ideal night’s sleep was to come.

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