"My first day of work today," he shrugged as he clasped my harness onto the cable. Words you do not want to hear from your ziplining guide when you're 120 m above the rainforest floor, looking down on a sea of treetops. With nowhere to run from that small wooden platform attached to a ridiculously tall tree. Midway through our ziplining canopy tour, I hadn't yet acquired a taste for the madness of voluntarily stepping into the green abyss—ten times for ten ziplines makes 5 km in all. Sure enough, he was joking, but the humour was apparent only in hindsight.
Fears of heights and speed and everything in between had shown up in full force to feast on me. I felt that deep longing for boredom one feels in situations like this. When you wonder that perhaps all this 'adventure' stuff is severely over-rated and you'd much rather spend your Sunday in bed with a book and some coffee. Why am I trying to zip across a jungle from this height and this speed anyway? Isn't the view from down there great enough? Haven't I had my share of being young-and-reckless in more ways than I care to count? Does my insurance even cover something like this? If the cable decides to snap will they even find me (or what remains of me) on the vast valley floor?
"Neeext!" called out our guide aka Sky Ranger, cutting short my raging internal debate. Up here, over-thinking is a luxury not included in the package. Seeing as I was now the last one on the platform, I inched closer to the edge, and summoned up every ounce of trust I've ever had in life and a fellow human being. What made this particular zipline (called the Superman) unique was that you had to throw yourself into a freefall before the zipline takes over. The clasp was on the back where you couldn't see it, and there was nothing to hold on to. Except the hope that this wasn't indeed the first day of work for the man responsible for my life up there.
With a medley of skipped heartbeats, mad screams, terror-laced thrills and even—who would've guessed—actual enjoyment, I managed to get to the cargo grid at the end of the line. But not without giving my guide a bit of a scare when it seemed like I was headed off the grid. Nice to give the guy who pushes people off ledges and ziplines for a living, a bit of a scare. Even if it was only for a few seconds
Soon we were on this hanging sky bridge, one of three that we wobbled across from heights I didn't want to measure. 'Don't look down' they said. Difficult advice to follow when it meant walking on between the wide gaps that interspersed wooden planks. Below are some videos by a fellow traveller, because I cared way too much about my phone to bring it along
On one of the ziplines, which, at 800m is said to be the longest in Asia, my flight weirdly came to a halt at about 90 per cent of the way. Our guide clambered onto the zipline with the dexterity of a gibbon and helped me reach the platform in minutes. "You too light!" he informed me, adding that I better pull my knees up each time to make myself as dense a weight as possible. Being lightweight isn't a good problem to have up here.
Walking through the jungle, we saw gibbons swinging across high branches and hanging around in the literal sense of the word. Their hoo's and wahoo's making a fine background score with the synchronised chorus of cicadas. Surround-sound found a refreshing new meaning out here.
The last of the ziplines led us to this 40m tall tree, down which we had to abseil. By now I'd begun to trust the entire mechanism of madness enough to let go and lose myself in the experience. Letting my body spin down in spirals with the jungle whirling above me is my fondest memory of the entire trip! Well worth the 10 ziplines and 3 sky bridges it took to get there.
Left unchallenged, fears become habits. And habits grow into walls when left unsupervised. Seems a good idea to pick up a big fat brick once in a while and, with all of one's gumption, throw it at these walls. Adventures are shredders of fears and limiting beliefs. Getting jolted out of one reality and landing into another is the value I see in adventure sports, the thing that keeps bringing me back to the edge again and again. As long as it's not the guide's first day at work Thank you everyone at Flight of the Gibbon, Chiang Mai and Cox & Kings' Getaway Goddess package for the insane experience!
For more on ziplining in Thailand, read this fact file on the Flight Of The Gibbons