It turned out to be jungle spirits. The ladies had made the mistake of simultaneously carrying banana leaves and firewood into the jungle and the spirits were angry. The ladies and Ponh were sleeping around the fire. They stoked it up so much to fend off the spirits the whole tree canopy was illuminated! This light, accompanied by their nervous laughter and screaming and loud discussions, made quite sure our sleep was over. At one point Ponh came bouncing into the shelter; "Is anyone asleep?
Ponh's impressive jungle skills continued. He made coffee cups from bamboo and brewed up a sensational mix of crab, fish, bamboo shoots and various green herbs to complement our sticky rice.
Everything was going swimmingly ... until ...Rosie slipped and fell, bashing her knee on a rock. She was in tears - because of the pain and (in equal measure) the prospect of not being able to walk out. She was given the option of taking a 1.5 hour shortcut down the creek or walking the 4 hour day with the group. She stoically chose the latter. It was a relatively slow walk out but no-one minded having this extra time to look around and absorb the jungle.
Tom led the way the entire day, often way out in front with the assistant guide. We might have to give him a pack to carry in the Himalayas so we can keep up!
After lunch we forged across the river on foot to our waiting transport, Ponh ferrying the kids on his back.
Entertained by astonishingly dangerous bulldozing and sheer drops from the window of our minibus to the river below as we drove over newly dumped scree from astonishingly dangerous (and poorly contrived) road repairs (recommend you zoom in on the dozer in the photo!), we drove back to civilisation.
What a great trip!
Ah. The jungle spirits. A stand of bamboo cracking. We think.
Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom
Location:Nam Ha National Protected Area, Laos