Singapore Adventurers' Club

Adventure Diary 2010s

Laos – Tree Top Discovery Adventure 2014 (2014)


by Tan Yee Lee

Ten of us who sign up for a two days one night tree top discovery adventure plus the guide leader and provisions for the two days were packed into a SUV for the ride from Parkse (2nd largest town in Laos) to Nongleun village, which is the starting point for the trek to the tree top camp/jungle resort. The ten of us include four ladies and two men from SAC, two Singaporean undergraduate on an independent tour and two Swiss ladies.

The drive takes about one and a half hours, starting on paved road and then on eroded country road, the route reminds me of the old Malaysian trunk road where there are road side stalls selling local produced like durian and vegetables. After much bumping and rolling in the SUV we reached the coffee plantation village shop of Nongluen, this shop also doubled as a store for equipment for tree top. The jungle tree top resort can only be reached by foot, no cars, no noise, and no fumes just pure fresh air.

At the village we change into trekking clothes, put on safety helmet and full body harness, the weather there was cool and as soon as we start a drizzle gives us a drenching and blessing for an adventure well beyond our imagination. The trek was led by the guide leader and his three assistants --- who can make this trip heavenly of hellish, led into the coffee plantation and then the forest path, after about an hour trekking we came to a rocky clearing where we stop for rest and lunch. The outdoor lunch was laid on banana leaves in a roll, we had vegetables, fried meat probably mutton, fish, balls of sticky rice and banana. After lunch we continue trekking the route from then onwards was virgin jungle with very large trees, it was wet, steep and slippery slopes, soon we come to a deep ravine with a canopy walk across it, after crossing the shaky bridge we sighted our first Zip Line. Zip lining, aerial runway of flying through the air on a high wire, consist of a pulley suspended on a steel cable mounted on and incline, the user propelled by gravity travel from top to bottom by clamping the free moving pulley to the cable, user will need a hooked stick to control the speed when reaching the bottom or lower platform usually secured to mid-section of a big tree. We gather around the guide leader as he gives a briefing on the safety aspect of zip lining. The two guide assistants were the first to zip and demonstrate how zip lining is done; very soon it’s our turn to do the zip. After clamping our pulley and safety line on the steel cable and stepped off the launching pad into the air, above the trees top and 200ft from the ground you will fly down the line gathering speed passing through tall trees, waterfalls, ravines, rivers and rainbows, like a bird, and before you know it the guide assistant and your friends at the receiving platform shouting “BRAKE! BRAKE!” and you pull your hooked stick down hard on the cable behind your and let friction slow you down --- after several zip you can make a perfect landing. We do another five more zip lining, after landing on the platform we had to abseil down to the ground trek some distance to the next zip pad, the last zip of the day was the most thrilling --- the length is 400 meters and we zip across a 100 meter high waterfall, with a rainbow, deep ravine and a river flowing below, that day when we do the zip it was windy and the wind blow the water mist towards us, we were drenched to the skin. After a short hike we came to a board walk that leads us to the camp restaurant.

The restaurant is actually an elevated wooden shed on stilts with a viewing platform of the waterfall, there is a kitchen in one corner, a very useful fireplace with constant hot water for making tea or coffee, in the center is a long table, benches with backrest on both sides, sit easily 16 persons, at the side is a filtered drinking water top up station, next to it a wash basin with running water. There is electrical lighting when they run the generator from 7pm to 9 in the night. It was raining heavily, the ladies have to queue to shower as there were only 2 cubicles, and some of the men took their bath right under the run-off gutter. With clean and dry clothes on we wait for dinner which did not disappoint under such environment. After sorting out our belonging we go for an early bed --- we were supposed to sleep in the tree house but because of the wind and rain the guide leader suggest we sleep in the dormitory as some were quite exhausted.

The next day after breakfast --- we have eggs, French loaf, banana etc., we go for a trek on another route and do 5 more zip. We missed the swimming in the waterfall pool because the waterfall was at its peak. We go back to the restaurant for lunch, and prepare to leave the camp.

The climb out of the camp is another tough assignment, we need to cross two rivers --- the end is the waterfall, and the crossing is just 2 steel cables, and then the 50 meters vertical rock wall, My heart almost stopped when we were told that we have to climb over it.

From this Tree Top Discovery Adventure we discover that we had done all the things which in the beginning we doubt we were capable of!