Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Flying through the trees in Thailand

Well, now that you all know about my exciting journey to Thailand, let me tell you about some of the things we did while we were in Thailand. As you may recall, the main focus of our visit was my brother-in-law's wedding, but we had about a week before and a week after during which to do other stuff. One of the week-before items ended up being the Flight of the GibbonTM zip-line adventure. There are two locations, Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Pattaya. We visited the Bangkok-Pattaya one which is in Chonburi, about halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya, and it was amazing. There are 26 platforms set up, and most of them involve zip-lines to get from one to the other, but there are a couple of bridges to walk across, and/or ropes to descend. The longest zip-line is over 300 meters, and, if I remember correctly, about 180 feet up. Having a hard time envisioning that? Picture about three football fields. Now imagine a zip line strung across those. Still having a hard time. Let me see if I can find something to help you out.

There we all are on one platform getting ready to come over to the next platform. See us? Waaaay over there? Don't worry, this was toward the end of the run. They don't throw you up into that stuff right away. You start with a light hike through the forest to the first station, and they start you off on low platforms and short zip-lines. Because at first everyone is hanging on like this:

But by about halfway through, they convince you that it's OK to hang on like this as they lower you down to the platform below:

Eventually you work your way up onto platforms overlooking the entire forest with views for miles and zip-line rides lasting 15-20 seconds. And the views weren't just of the trees. There were huge, colorful butterflies and flowers, and we heard lots of birds. We just missed seeing gibbons moving around in the trees on several occasions-we'd hear something big rustling about in the canopy and then see where something big had just moved through, but I was never quick enough to actually spot anything. Others in our party did though.

Here's a shot from an earlier station. We zipped down to the bottom platform, climbed up the spiral staircase, and then zipped from the upper platform to our next station, like I am demonstrating for you here. =) (I just realized that the amount of helmet-wearing I do on this blog seems to be out of proportion to the actual amount of helmet-wearing I do in real life. Just so you know, I don't run around in helmets, waiting for adventure to strike).

We had a great time doing this, and it is something I would highly recommend. This was a great break from the noise and pollution and general stress that is the city. The facility is very new, and the work that was put into building this is amazing. Take a look at that first picture again. Now think about stringing that cable. Or building that spiral staircase in the last picture. Impressive.

I felt totally safe the entire time; from the moment we stepped up to the first platform until we touched ground at the last, there was not a moment that we weren't latched into something secure, and our guides were great. We had two, one to send us off at each platform and one to catch us on the other end. The guide who was on the other end waiting to catch all of us also had all of our cameras around his neck and managed to get pictures of everyone at each station (there were 8 of us) as we were hurtling toward him...in a safe and controlled manner.

From arrival on-site to departure was almost 5 hours, refreshments were provided for us before our adventure began, lunch was provided after, admission to the neighboring Khao Kheo Open Safari was included, AND we essentially had our own personal photographer with us for the duration of the trip. All of this for about $70/person-I think that's a pretty good deal!

I realize that this doesn't answer any of the pressing questions from my "Coming soon!" post, but that's only because I forgot to throw one of these pictures in there as a teaser! I'll get around to the rest, I promise!


Mike said...

Wow! That looks fun, and terrifying. I don't know if I can handle how high some of those are. I'm sure I'd like it, but I might have to take some Valium before I did it. :)

Heather J. said...

What an AMAZING adventure!

Nymeth said...

"Just so you know, I don't run around in helmets, waiting for adventure to strike."

lol! It would be cool if you did :P It sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Dreamybee said...

Mike-One of my brothers-in-law who did this with us is terrified of heights, and he made it through it OK...not totally stress-free, but OK. LOL. Also, it doesn't seem like you're quite as high as you are a lot of the time because you have the lower canopy below you creating sort of a false ground.

Heather J-Yes it was! I'm really glad we did it.

Nymeth-LOL-Maybe I should!