Thursday, November 3, 2011

Trekking Through the Laotian Jungle

A Swiss girl, a Finnish couple, myself, and two guides pile into the four wheel drive vehicle necessary to traverse the often muddy and impassable unpaved back-roads of South East Asia. We've signed up for a trek run by Green Discovery Laos, an eco-tour company whose prices I don't mind paying as a portion of my fee goes towards keeping the forests in tact, and children schooled in the distant village where we'll  be spending the night.
Three hours later, we begin our adventure, floating down a river, friendly bathing trees pointing us in the direction of the jungle, partially swallowed by the bloated waterway yet again this wet season.

Take a quick look at the height of our the river

Twenty minutes later we exit off the boat and begin exploring the wilderness. Being in a national park means an intact rain forest with almost unbroken vegetation, but sadly, here, most of the mammals have been hunted nearly out of existence, and those that remain, are incredibly shy.
Can you blame them?
Me crossing a fast flowing stream any way possible
Regardless, I am entranced by the forest's beauty; the fallen, often rotting trees blocking our path, the vegetation poking us from every angle, the sounds of the cicada, a type of cricket which rubs its legs together producing a sound far louder than its body would suggest possible, and the lush green plants- cleaning pollutants from the air, supplying us oxygen in return, the lungs of the earth.
To some it might seem an area in complete disarray, a messy, muddy, unpredictable mass of vegetation, to me, I see perfect harmony, billions of years of almost unspoiled evolution.
Laotian jungle
A large, spiked, poisonous caterpillar on a tree branch is swarmed by red ants. To avoid an un-fateful end, it releases it grasp of the bark and falls onto the low lying vegetation.
Awesome shot of poisonous caterpillar if I may be so bold
The jungle is green beyond a color reproduceable on any computer, in any movie. One must see it in person to fully appreciate its vivid nature.
waterfall in rainy season

A view of the trees and jungle below
While I dream of spotting a wild tiger, which still exist in the furthest reaches of Laotian forests, the last known sighting in this National Park was five years ago. The few wild tigers left, even if their habitat somehow becomes protected across the board, will be poached out of existence by demand coming from idiots in China who believe that eating tiger penis will armor them with greater sexual prowess than Viagra; or exercise. The world must be educated, and quickly.
It makes me too sad to elaborate further.

The jungle however, is not without it's dangers. From deadly centipedes, to king cobras, to green vipers, one of which I nearly step on, getting lucky I wasn't a few feet faster. (see a shot of it in the video below)

A tour through some of the sights of the Laotian jungle

We have lunch by the waterfall, enjoying the rushing water, the tranquil and steady sounds of the forest. I feel blessed to be able to see one of the few truly wild places left on earth, with humanity ever encroaching on Mother Nature, making her take what might soon be her last stand.
Consumerism, rapid population growth, man's avarice, and egoic need to dominate, will, unchecked, lead to the demise of the human race. I see human beings as fleas, sucking our host dry, greedily extracting all they can, without realizing the possibility of living in a sustainable and harmonious manner.
A river in the jungle, our guide Ola in center. No crocodiles here! They're just about extinct! Hooray?


Is there hope? Will humanity destroy itself and our beautiful planet, or will we take collective action, before it's too late,  allowing dorks like this Laotian rapper to continue performing his "craft." Either way, it's hard to be enthusiastic about our future. 

The greatest rap in Laotian history. Grammy? You be the judge.

4 comments:

  1. Gorgeous place!! I want to go there!

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  2. Great post!
    You have really captured what it is like to be there!
    Great jungle story!

    If you want to check out travel and environmental articles have a look at:
    morganhannah.wordpress.com

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