Friday, June 24, 2016

Flight of the Gibbon: Zip lining, Repelling, Hiking and Basket Weaving

Last night before I went to bed, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for zip lining today.  I ran down to the front office of the place I'm staying, they made a call and said to be ready in the morning at 6:30am.  I got picked up from my hotel, driven about an hour outside of Chiang Mai where I met with my group.

They strapped us into their safety gear and introduced us to the staff members who would be helping us through the course.  I wish I had pictures of them!  Balloon, John and Scott drove with us up to the first platform where they went over safety instructions and zip lined with us all day.  They were nuts!  It was so much fun.  They whooped and hollered when they went down before us, they would shake the zip line to make us bounce on our way down, etc.  They so much fun and seemed to adore their job.
 The course through the rainforest was unbelievable.  They would hook us onto the zip line, have us run off the platform, and we slide all the way across the wire where a staff member caught us on another platform high up in a tree.  This repeated throughout the day with occasional rope bridges or repelling platforms mixed in.
This video was filmed by Scott.  He went first down the zip line and filmed me making it onto the platform.  They caught us when we got to the platform so we didn't ramrod ourselves into the tree.  haha We got going so fast and even after hours of zip lining, it still made me yell.

I was the only solo rider, but there were two girls from Nevada who were visiting Thailand on summer break and two people from Hong Kong.  It was just the five  of us that had Balloon, Scott and John to ourselves.  It was the perfect size.  

 Balloon was a HUGE tease.  When we walked across the rope bridge he would shake it or chase us across.  They also told us about the insects and snakes that we might see throughout the day and would occasionally make hissing sounds just to freak us out.  haha
We probably zip lined between 30 platforms.  Some were longer and faster than others but they always seemed to have a way to spice each of them up.  On several of them, they would hook us to the wire, ask us to walk of the edge and they'd swing us back and forth before they let us go.  

For the most part, I did okay.  I get pretty freaked out about heights.  So the few times I let myself look straight down off the platform, I'd have to step back and take a few breaths before jumping.  They're very high in the air and most of them get you going pretty fast.

Balloon went ahead of me on this one.  They called this one "Superman".  On this particular zip line, they strapped you in from behind so you had to jump face first off the platform.  It was hands down the most terrifying one for me.  It took me a while to get myself to jump.  Once you can get yourself off the platform, it's completely exhilarating.

We were going for a couple of hours but it never got old to me.  It was so hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I was zip lining through the rainforest!!  It's too many fun things in one sentence.  It was absolutely beautiful.

On a couple of platforms, they would have you repel down to a platform below.  It did a number on my fear of heights because you spend the entire day falling in one way or another.  It's not a typical day in the life of a social worker but I loved every second.

 It was super hot and sweaty but it didn't rain until we were on our last platform and had to repel to the bottom.  We really lucked out with the weather!  Once we were done zip lining, they had us pile into a van to drive us back to the main office for lunch.  Since it was raining, it was slippery and muddy.  The driver of our van had to make three attempts to drive up the muddy hill.  He'd get the front two wheels onto the road on top of the hill, but the bottom we'd slide back down and he'd rev the engine to make another attempt.  It was kind of scary but there was loads of applause when we finally got out.

Our whole group was blown away by how delicious lunch was.  They had an incredible coconut soup, a mushroom dish, chicken, salad and fresh fruit.  It was amaze balls.  While we were eating and laughing about how insane our day had been, an employee approached us to see if we'd like to walk through a village and see a nearby waterfall.  Uh...obviously.

They took us to this 100 year old village tucked away in the rainforest.  We got to see the different uses of tea leaves.  They sold little pillows stuffed with tea leaves, some tiny enough that they recommend putting them in your shoes when they small bad.  haha They showed us a cinnamon tree and let us each chew on some pieces of it.  It was really good.  One of the girls in our group said, "It tastes like hot tamales."  haha 

We met one of the women in the village that weaves baskets from dried bamboo leaves.  To make a small basket, like the one pictured on the left, it takes a whole day--to cut the leaves in small pieces and weave it into a basket.  
They gave us each a handful of bamboo leaves and let us attempt to weave the beginnings of a basket.  
I can see how it would take a long time.  Mine was getting out of control and I was only weaving it for 2 minutes.  haha
From there we went on a 10 minute hike through the rainforest, winding our way up to the waterfall.

 I kept thinking throughout the walk how incredible all of the sounds were.  The birds, the insects, the stream, the sound of rain as it landed on the leaves above us, etc.  There is something really calming about that environment.  I thought about all of the mindfulness CD's that have babbling brooks in the back ground.  It made sense to me that we'd want to recreate the feeling of being in such a beautiful environment.  I certainly didn't want to leave.
 Our hike up to the waterfall had some fairly steep staircases.  I loved being outside and hiking through so much green.  I kept wondering if the staff members loved hiking it everyday or if it ever gets old.

 I made it back to Chiang Mai around 3:00pm.  I got a body scrub--essentially they rub your whole body down with a salt mixture.  I loved it but I'm sure I would have appreciated it more if I wasn't sun burned on my back from yesterday with the elephants.  haha It's now trickling rain outside.  I'll probably head to the night market and will hopefully come home to get a normal night's rest.  I only slept four hours last night.  I don't know if it was because of jet lag or my excitement to spend the day zip lining but I probably should get some sleep.  haha It's hard to do when everyday feels so exciting. 


  1. OK, this whole day looks like a blast!! I'm so happy you did this and I'm happily surprised at the many people you meet that just happen to be spending several weeks in Thailand. What? Who knew? Now, how are you going to top this tomorrow? Can't wait to hear.

  2. Mal I love this! What a perfect adventure! And you captures the little nuances so very well. I hope you get some sleep and have more blissful moments tomorrow!



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