Friday, December 16, 2011

My Favorite Travel Experience

Our awesome guides
          While traveling throughout Laos, I went on a trek with a small company in the northern jungles. We started off in a rickety truck bouncing along rocky dirt roads. I sat next to a smiling Laotian woman, who showed me how to make my hair into a bun that sits right atop my forehead.
Hair-do Lady
 We plowed straight through rivers and wound through thicker and thicker vegetation, until we arrive at a quaint village. The village was comprised of small wooden huts with pigs, chickens, and naked babies all running around freely.

         From there we continued into the jungle with a two Laotian guys, who were equipped with only flip flops, mind you, while we huffed and puffed with our small backpacks and tall socks. Tall socks, you ask? Yes indeed we were traveled into the habitat of some wily little blood-suckers, and we had been warned. Leeches. They were everywhere. They would drop from the trees, or attach themselves to your shoe and inch up your leg if you dared to step in a mud-puddle. 
By now, you might be wondering if I am a bit sadistic - this is supposed to be your favorite travel experience - but I'm not finished!
The truth is the leeches were nothing in comparison to the rustic beauty of the jungle. We explored it not only through trekking, stopping every now and then to swim in a waterfall pool, but also by sailing across the canopy on the longest and highest zip-lines I have ever seen. It was incomparable. Additionally, we spent the night in tree houses that were built in massive trees - I felt like I was sleeping miles above the ground and could peer out to discover a family of gibbons in the distance, enjoying the canopy. 

View from Tree House

Inside Treehouse

Getting ready to zip

The experience was truly unique and one that I relive in my mind frequently. The authenticity of a place and people is an aspect of travel I value above almost all else, and unfortunately it can difficult to find at times!