Hello and welcome to another edition of Far East Adventure Travel The Podcast. Brought to you by Far East Adventure Travel Magazine. “Swinging with The Gibbons”-a zip lining adventure into the Bokeo Reserve of Northwest Laos in search of the rare black-crested gibbon. The cover story this month. Just go to the iTunes App Store, download the app and subscribe. Now you can enjoy a 30 day free trial of reader supported Far East Adventure Travel Magazine. Subscribe now!
Hi this is John Saboe the publisher of Far East Adventure Travel Magazine and I really did enjoy my travels through Laos, particularly the northern and northwest part of the country which remain undeveloped, at least when you compare it to it’s neighbour, Thailand.
I spent almost 6 weeks in Laos earlier this year and I was surprised to see so many places that would make westerners feel comfortable. Restaurants, accommodations, activities, lots of English signs. But where was everybody? Of course I did run into many travelers but this country I believe sees some of the lowest tourist numbers in this part of Southeast Asia. I’ve been trying to figure out why and I’m sure there are lots of reasons. Laos does not have the same infrastructure and resources that it’s neighbours enjoy. It’s also a landlocked country. There are no beaches! At least on the ocean. Many people from the west visit Southeast Asia for the beaches, surfing, diving and just to have a lazy beach holiday. This could be another reason.
In my opinion Laos is a bargain. Your money will go along way. Great accommodations and amazing food! A wonderful culture and friendly people. What more do you want. I’m not getting paid to say any of this by the way. It’s just my feeling.
The cover story of the latest issue of Far East Adventure Travel Magazine is all about my visit to The Gibbon Experience in Northwest Laos. A chance to get close to the rare black-crested gibbon, the ape species that seems too get the least amount of attention, compared with its’ cousins, the chimpanzees, orang utans, and gorillas, even though many subspecies of gibbons are endangered.
As a child growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia I recall many visits to the Stanley Park Zoo, which no longer exists and always, hearing the loud cries of the gibbons in their small cage, and watching them constantly swinging for the crowds.
Recently I have been able to see gibbons at The Taipei Zoo in Taiwan and when you watch the beginning of the movie The Life of Pei you will notice a black gibbon is featured in the shots of the family’s animal park in Pondicherry, India. This in reality fact was filmed at the Taipei Zoo and this opening scene features one of the resident gibbons of zoo. I think they are absolutely beautiful creatures. I think that short scene struck a chord in me.
So when I had a chance to visit them in the wild with The Gibbon Experience I did not hesitate to book a spot.
I was staying in Luang Prabang which is about an 12 hour bus ride north of the capital of Vientiane when I made my final arrangements for The Gibbon Experience.
Two options to get there from Luang Prabang, a 13 hour bus ride or a 2 day slow boat. I took the bus ride option and you take what is called a VIP bus meaning there are no local stops, probably no chickens or livestock for passengers, and no plastic chairs in the aisles.
Still not the most comfortable ride and on that route there is about a 4 hour portion that runs over the roughest dirt road in Laos, at least it seemed that way at the time, but that was before I traveled by local bus through Northern Laos.You eventually end up in the town of Houay Xai, which is right on the Thai border, right across the Mekong River.
Houay Xai on the surface is not a terribly exciting town. But it does have a somewhat sordid past as a heroin processing center. And allegedly the United States had a heroin processing plant there during the secret war.
The second morning I was in Houay Xai I walked up the long stairway to the Wat, or temple Jom Khao Manilat, and met some of the novices and Buddhist monks. Most men in Laos will novice in a monastery or wat, some for just a part of their life, some forever. They are always willing to meet and speak with foreigners as they are eager to practise their English. In fact I was recruited to help these young monks rewrite their brochure they liked to hand out to tourists to encourage visits to the Wat. It was a great opportunity for me to dig into some of the local culture and meet some really cool people.
While I was putting together the latest issue of the magazine I was going over the video I filmed including the go pro shots from my head of the zip lining and I still can’t believe I was flying over the canopy of the forest of the Bokeo Reserve. Literally flying, sometimes you would cross a 300 meter line in less than 30 seconds. You don’t realize at the time that your brain is processing so much because of the speed this all takes place at. 3 months later and I still look at the footage and I’m overwhelmed. You are literally Tarzan of the jungle flying from one platform or treehouse to another.
Living in the treehouse was another unforgettable experience. At times I felt like I was in a capsule, maybe even a little trapped knowing I couldn’t just walk out the door without having to strap on a harness. But I often found myself glued to the views which were almost 360 degrees! It’s a completely different experience then looking out a window with a great view or even being on a deck or balcony. You literally become apart of the forest and environment. It’s wrapped around you, your’e literally embraced by it.
The gibbons fortunately were not elusive on my stay in The Bokeo Reserve. The first morning I awoke early, just before their singing started at 6am. A hooing sound gradually growing louder, higher,stronger. Have a listen…..
First usually the male starts, followed by the female in one of the most unique duets in nature. Some say the singing reminds them of whales. There are some very high pitches at times. The climax is a burst of sounds some so high pitched they seem almost like they are created by electronic instruments. We could not see the gibbons in the early morning,the cloud and mist from an overnight rainfall still lingered and covered the forest canopy. It made the encounter all the more amazing and spiritual.
I really am grateful for such places like the Gibbon Experience and the Bokeo Reserve. Concerted efforts towards protecting this incredible species of the ape family, the black-crested gibbon.
Read all about the Gibbon Experience in The Bokeo Reserve of Northwest Laos in the latest issue of Far East Adventure Travel Magazine on the iTunes Newstand. Stories, images, videos, audio commentary plus stories from one of my favorite places in India, Darjeeling. Go to the iTunes App Store, search Far East Adventure Travel, download the app and subscribe. Now get a 30 day free trial. You can also visit breezy-size.flywheelsites.com click on the App Store icon, view in iTunes and download the app to subscribe.
That’s it for this week’s edition of Far East Adventure Travel The Podcast. Next week,stories from West Bengal, India. Until then this is John Saboe, thanks for much for listening! Safe travels and Namaste.
The Gibbon Experience:
Swayambhunath-“The Monkey Temple”-Kathmandu, Nepal-Captured this morning at 6:30 while observing/filming Gunla, the month long Buddhist festival observed by Newari Buddhists. The Newaris are the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. This month long ritual of praying, fasting, playing music, and singing is believed to originate from when the monks retreated from the monsoon rains to meditate. Loud, but full of joy I only recently discovered this festival with the kind help of a ticket attendant at Swayambhunath who let me use my entrance ticket a second day,(never happened before), to see the Gunla ritual. Inspiring to see young and old followers enjoying the warm spirited atmosphere at this storied site. Energy/vibe-crazy amazing!!!#nepal #himalayas #kathmandu #annapurna #podcast #photojournalism #trekking #backpacking #buddhist #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #travelblogger #new#happiness#travelingram #instago #instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife #igtravel #travelphotography #mountainscape
Kathmandu, Nepal-More From Gai Jatra 2018 Festival this past Monday. Some of my best moments spent in Nepal besides trekking in the Himalaya have been observing the various festivals whether they’re Hindi, Buddhist, or Newari. The indescribable aura especially with the mix of beliefs and people that come from all over the country to work in the Kathmandu Valley is magical, unlike almost anywhere else I’ve visited. Sometimes I wonder did I find this place or did it find me. On my 8th visit in as many years… #kathmandu #hindu #hinduism #nepal #festival #podcast #photojournalism #trekking #backpacking #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #new#happiness#travelingram #instago #instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife #igtravel #travelphotography #WeAreSherpa
Kathmandu, Nepal-Gai Jatra 2018, “The Festival Of Cows”! These boys are dressed as cows leading processions of people who have lost a loved one this past year. Cows lead the processions but if one is not available a boy dressed as a cow is an acceptable substitute. They accept offerings from people in the street. Young children are dressed in bright colorful costumes and adults sometimes dress in funny outfits. It’s all to help those see they are not alone in their suffering and to help relieve the pain of loss. I felt so much joy and community today in Kathmandu. Once again the spirit of harmony and compassion unfolded itself in a beautiful ritual in the Kathmandu Valley. #kathmandu #hindu #hinduism #nepal #festival #podcast #photojournalism #trekking #backpacking #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #new#happiness#travelingram #instago #instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife #igtravel #travelphotography
Varanasi, India-The look in their eyes. Sometimes I turn the camera the other way just to capture moments like this. A group in this boat staring up at the ghats of the great Ganges each with their own perspective, different reasons perhaps of why they are there. Do they have a relative who’s body was cremated or are they waiting for someone to finally pass on to the next life? Are they simply just tourists admiring the ghats and city for the first time. Or could they be reminding us to always feel gratitude no matter what’s currently happening in our lives. Varanasi goes at many speeds with layers of activity that can sometimes only be felt days, even years after the fact…. #varanasi #nikon #puja #incredibleindia #hinduism #streetphotography#photojournalism #away #tripme #traveling #alone #nikon #flowers #photooftheday #new#happiness#travelingram#instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife #FF #igtravel #followme
The Hungry Ghost Festival 2018 in Taipei, Taiwan
The Hungry Ghost Festival 2018 in Taipei, Taiwan
Mt. Kailash,Tibet-The highest point on the kora of Mt. Kailash, Drolma La Pass, 5630 meters. This is one of the most unique adventures on the planet. Travel to remote Western Tibet, Walk for 3 days on a pilgrimage around one of the holiest places of Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Bon followers. They say doing one kora around Mt. Kailash wipes away the sins of a lifetime. Some believe after you do a kora, circumambulation of Mt. Kailash, you will go on to do something good for humanity. It’s an incredible awakening and it helped change my life! #tibet #buddha #buddhism #hinduism #photojournalism #trekking #india #backpacking #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #travelblogger #new#happiness#travelingram #instago #instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife #igtravel #travelphotography #mountainscape
Hanoi, Vietnam-I think we’ve lost so much in the way of individuality and charm when it comes to retailing, let alone how it’s impacted our cultures and society. So many governments encourage big business and multinational chains with tax breaks and incentives while making it increasingly harder for an individual to start a small business- shameful! The Old Quarter Of Hanoi is still filled with family businesses that offer products, services, and style that’s quite unique for a capital city these days. From a traveler’s perspective it’s so refreshing to walk around a city and not see the same stores that are showing up everywhere else on the planet. I want more LOCAL at home and when I travel! #vietnam #hanoi #fuji #myfujifilm #fujifilm #streetphotography#photojournalism #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #walkingstreet #nightmarket #new#happiness#travelingram #instago #instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife #FF #igtravel #followme #travelphotography