It was late in the afternoon when my traveling partner Josh Rhodes and I arrived in Huay Xai, Laos (A small border crossing town near Thailand). We would spend the night there so we could do a zip lining tour at ‘’The Gibbon Experience". We dropped our backpacks in a small hostel and we decided to explore the little town. After some lunch and a bottle of beer at the Mekong, we went strolling around in town until I saw an advertisement with information about another trekking which started from Huay Xai. Wait.. what? Trekking? I thought Huay Xai only had The Gibbon Experience as attraction!? Curious as we were, we went inside to get some info about this trekking company. Inside we met our future guide, Phonephalit. At first, Phonepalith talked us off since it was the start of the rain season. He told us that trekking during the heavy rains could be really exhausting and dangerous for travelers unknown to the jungle environment. But after having some conversation and story sharing, Phonephalith saw that we weren’t the ‘’touristy’’ kind of backpackers and that we really wanted to go with him. Happy as we were, Phonephalit decided to get in contact with the local tribes to inform about the conditions in the jungle and if it was possible to do a trekking.
After a few hour, Phonephalith finally came back to us with the answer that he would take us to the Jungle and even better to a CIA base from the Secret War in Laos which was used during the Vietnam war. The part of the jungle where Phonephalith would take us was hardly ever seen by Western people. The Tribes who live there do not even speak Laotian and Phonephalith even communicated with hand and feet when we arrived.
Phonephalith explained that the journey would be in two parts.The first part of our journey would exist out of though walk through the jungle and a climb to the top of a mountain. This mountain, Phonephalith told us, was an old CIA command post with a helicopter platform. Our second objective was to climb to a Secret Radar post at the top of another higher mountain. Hearing that this would be our journey for the next couple of days, made us very excited.
The next day we arrived at 08:00 at the meeting point. From there I, Josh and our 4 guides went in a Tuk-Tuk to our drop off point a tribe village which lived next to at the jungle.
At the village we tried to gather some more information about the surrounding jungle and possible dangers. Some of the guides talked to some passing soldiers who told them not to go to the second mountain (the 2nd part of our journey). These soldiers were from Laotion Bomb Squad and were searching for remaining bombs and explosives. A few of them found some mines and trip wires which were still remaining for the Vietnam War. Unfortunately for us, because of this possible danger, the first part of the journey would be our only part.
After talking to the soldiers we went in the Jungle, trekking up the mountain with some water, a machete and only dense jungle ahead. After a few hours of walking and cutting ourselves away through the jungle we reached the old helicopter platform off the CIA, from there it was descending down through the bushes and climbing up the rocks to reach the top of the mountain. When we arrived on the top, we took some photos and enjoyed the view.
Because of a thunderstorm which was coming our way, We decided to descent to a lower altitude with no rocks (lightning supposed to like rocks) to camp for the night. After we descended the guides went looking for a good spot to build up our camp. After that, we went to looking for bamboo and other materials to build our camp. After almost finishing our camp, we suddenly saw a "killer caterpillar". This is big red Caterpillars which will jump and bite you if you come to close. For young kids a bite of the animal is deadly, we would be in the hospital after a bite. With this animal in our camp no one would sleep with eye closed, so we decided to kill it. A few minutes after we finished business with the caterpillar, the youngest of the 4 guides came running fast and scared to the camp. He was telling he heard a "roar" and footsteps of a big animal. At first, no one believed him but then I heard it also. I was frightened because there live tigers and bears in these jungles. Also, the other guides heard the "roar" and footsteps. At this point, we were doubting to descend further to a safer place to sleep. Later on, we saw something moving and luckily for us it was a local from a nearby tribe who was hunting.
One of the guides talked to the tribesman to ask if it was safe to sleep at this place. The hunter laughed and said: This is the dense jungle, here are a lot of wild animals. Since you heard the "roar" and footsteps, it is probably better to descend a little further. After a 2 hour walk, we finally arrived at the beginning of the Jungle. Since it was already starting to become dark, the Jungle slowly became alive, the darker it became the louder the Jungle sang it sounds.
At the end of the Jungle, we set up our camp at a small jungle hut. We made a campfire, dried our clothes and had some laughs with each other.
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