Jungle Ziplining in Thailand
One of the most highly rated activities around Chiang Mai is the “Flight of the Gibbon”, Thailand’s longest zipline canopy tour. I have been ziplining before in Honduras so I pretty much knew what to expect. Admittedly it is thrilling to “fly” over land tethered in a body harness, supported only by a tiny cable but, at first, I was making the mistake of allowing my previous experience to jade me toward the current one. I know this is not the way to approach experiences, or life, but I was finding it hard to shake.
Putting that aside I met up with my friends and we began the thirty minute drive out of Chiang Mai, Thailand to the village that serves the attraction. As we climbed into the mountains I started to get a little more psyched up. The drive in the minibus through the jungle was beautiful and the company was good. Things were starting to green up and I think, maybe; just maybe, it was starting to cool down a little. By the time we arrived at the office and greeted by the enthusiastic staff and “sky rangers” I had let go of my cynicism and resigned to simply enjoy the day.
After the receiving the safety briefings and signing the obligatory liability wavers I was strapped into my harness, given a bright yellow helmet and marched to the first of nineteen lines. There actually was a cool breeze blowing, the birds were singing and my heart was racing a little as I eased myself off of the platform and zipped across the first line. The views were beautiful and adrenaline was pumping. This was great!
By the time a got a few more lines under my belt I was swinging my legs to increase bounce and lamely attempting a few tricks. One of the lines was 800 meters long, which you cover in about 30 seconds, flying just above the trees at over 90kph. There were some platforms where you had to repel to get to the ground, a few where you fly with a partner and one coming up, inexplicably, called “The Superman”.
On “The Superman” the carabineers that are normally attached to the front of the harness, where you can hold them and kind of control yourself, are attached to your back where you can’t see or even touch them. You then move to the edge of a very high platform and jump, face first toward the ground, parachute style. Geronimo! Because you have nothing to hold on to, instead of flying in a controlled manner to the next platform, you simply crash, unceremoniously, into a big net. It was actually pretty thrilling to let go in this way.
After flying for a few hours you get to climb up a small waterfall and are later served a pleasant meal, complete with the entertainment of traditional musicians and dancers, in a tiny Thai village. It was a great day. I only saw a few gibbons and the whole thing was a bit contrived but I was so glad I let go of my cynicism, lived in the moment, and enjoyed the day like I was a zipline virgin. Imagine enjoying other things you have been through with childlike enthusiasm instead of bringing along the aloofness that comes with experience. For instance, imagine the ecstasy of enjoying ice cream like it was your first time, every time you had a taste. Every day would be filled with new thrills, excitement and the joy of living.