Saturday, April 1, 2023

Jungle trekking in Banlung

From the 4000 islands it wasn’t far to the border which we crossed without much trouble. The visa we already had organized before but we still had to fill out a form for our bikes. Sadly we had to define from which border post we will exit which limits our options ๐Ÿ˜•

Aaron did some research and found out about the option to go trekking in the jungle out of Banlung, so that’s where we headed. After a night in the city we were of to the jungle for total 3 nights / 4 days. First two nights sleeping in hammocks and the last in a homestay. 

Off we go 

With us came two guides, the English guide (Sakal) and the Local guide (Leuk). As the name suggests the local one didn’t speak English ๐Ÿ˜‰  The two of them carried all the food for four days including pot and pan. Packing this was usually quite time consuming as they debated and discussed how to pack it?! ๐Ÿคท‍♂️ Which always took a long time ๐Ÿ˜‚
We carried our own stuff (didn’t bring much) + the hammock + water for the day. Speaking of water, after the first day we had to boil water from the little streams and added some bark from a tree to give it some flavor. 
As mentioned the guides weren’t the quickest which resulted us leaving camp at 9:30 on the second day after getting up at 5:30 to see the Gibbons (which we didn’t see ๐Ÿ™ƒ).
So it was already hot ๐Ÿฅต It was more or less a four day Sauna trip, just sweating ๐Ÿ˜“ 

Hot ๐Ÿฅต

Leuk led the way, some times having to clear it with his machete. Being only 1.6m tall he overlooked that the two tourists wouldn’t fit through the holes in the undergrowth ๐Ÿ˜† 
In the morning they told us the second camp would have just a little stream and no option to go swimming but during the day it came clear that we got lost ๐Ÿ˜‚ Luckily we encountered some locals looking for Malva nuts and our guides could ask for directions.
In the end we arrived at a stream big enough to go bathing in it and that is where we slept. As a bonus Leuk caught some frogs which he grilled for breakfast ๐Ÿ˜…

Rice wine from bamboo cups

Trying to dry our cloths

Aaron wasn’t too happy in the hammock ๐Ÿ˜

Bamboo ๐Ÿ˜

Cutting down the big trees just for some planks and leaving the rest ๐Ÿ˜•

Leaving the forest 

On the third day we made our way to the river where we would build s bamboo raft and soon left the forest and walked through recently cleared and burned plots of land. The surrounding farms eating more and more into the national park…
We also tried the cashew nut fruit

Everywhere cashews 

Nice mono culture

Asking for the way

We arrived at the little cashew nut farm (most of the cleared land gets used to grow cashew) which was our homestay and Leuk went to fell some bamboo. Sakal, Aaron and I then helped him to drag it to the rivers edge and together we tied it to a raft. When the four of us climbed on it our feet were in the water over our ankles ๐Ÿคจ But they assured us that this would be fine ๐Ÿคท‍♂️

Leuk checking our work

Hard at work 

The twisting to get it fixed wasn’t easy

We did not have much interaction with the family where we stayed and Saka and Leuk cooked dinner and then breakfast for us. Speaking of breakfast, they would only start preparing it once we got up, so we tried to explain to them that it should be the other way round as there was no reason to get up until breakfast was ready ๐Ÿคฃ We had a little bamboo hut for the night but I decided to sleep in the hammock one more night and leave it to Aaron. 
The next morning Leuk built a little „table“ on the raft on which we deposited our backpacks in big plastic bags, each of us got a big staff and off we went.

Going under

As guessed the whole thing wasn’t that great in the water but after 15-20min we found an abandoned little raft and Sakal and I switched to that one. Seems the two guides had this in mind from the start ๐Ÿ˜‰
We then kept pushing us down river through some technical bits, past water buffaloes and over longer deeper stretches. As we are still in the dry (burning!) season the river didn’t carry that much water and it took us about three hours, twice as long as during rainy season.

From there we got back by motorbike to Banlung over dusty pistes. We weren’t driving ourselves but sat on the back which made it extra uncomfortable and obvious slow (as all the locals drive).

All in all it was quite an interesting trek, luckily the human mind is good at skipping the exhausting parts ๐Ÿ˜‚ We didn’t see much wildlife; a tarantula, a green snake (which they told us was super deadly but I couldn’t find anything googling for it ๐Ÿคท‍♂️), some scorpions, frogs and toads, butterflies and moth’s but not much else. We decided this was enough trekking and skipped the other national park to go see the river dolphins ๐Ÿฌ next!