"I want to DO something!", says Loz.
After a couple of weeks making the most of our Thailand stay, and now a few days without itinerary in Chiang Mai ahead of us, my tiny hope of thoroughly enjoying a meaningless, completely wasted day vanishes instantly.
"What is it then you want to do?", I carefully ask.
My better half has just waited for this question, assuming it means that I am as excited as he is over the idea of doing something. Before I can even say 'couch potato', he has started browsing through a multitude of activities via GetYourGuide, who are an international online booking company of tours and activities, and mumbles away, deeply engaged in discussions with himself about the pro's and con's, until cometh the "Eureka"-moment, and with a rather meaningful voice he declares: "I want to go zip-lining!"
"Zip-lining! It's fun! I did it in Costa Rica - you are attached to a line which is stretched between trees, and you just whizz through the forest, from platform to platform."
"Wait a second; I thought you were afraid of heights - how can you enjoy THAT?"
"Because you start whizzing on the platform and don't have to really jump off anything - it's not scary. Okay, so in Costa Rica, I got stuck in between trees, which was a bit odd, but..."
"You got STUCK??"
"Oh, it's completely fine; I just pulled myself to the next tree again. So what do you say??!"
What CAN I say? It does sound like fun, and the possibility of having the pleasure of watching Loz dangling in the middle of a rope between two trees is quite promising. Of course it doesn't occur to me at all that I could be the one dangling. After all, I'm pretty much a ninja, right?
So on one of the following mornings, we are picked up by a mini-bus from the zip-lining folks from "Flight of the Gibbon". I make a joke about how I've heard of "Fly like an eagle" but never of "Fly like a gibbon", which horribly backfires as I am the one who is then stuck with an earworm of the said ABBA-song. Awesome. Other people join us on our quest - two ladies from Bangkok and two couples from Singapore. Everyone is cheerful and excited.
Coming from the busy city of Chiang Mai, the scenery changes as we make our way towards the rainforest in the Maekampong area.
Once we have arrived at the zip-lining base, we get to put all our valuables and general stuff, like the extra jumper I brought just in case it would be very cold (uh-huh), in lockers, after which we get dressed up in security gear.
I suddenly remember why I usually refrain from activities that require wearing special garments: they make me look seriously ridiculous. Always. Never fails to impress me exactly how any helmet brings out an egg-head condition that before seemed only underlying.
Well, I'm not here to win a beauty contest (and thank god for that, because it wouldn't go well for me), although I'm a bit sad that our three guides have to see me like that, because naturally, they are these really cool, hip, good-looking guys, always cracking a joke... Just exactly the kind of people you want to get to know while looking like an egg-head. Argh.
Suddenly something else starts bothering me. I'm not afraid of heights, but that doesn't mean I know how fond I will be of floating several hundred metres above the ground. What if I start screaming uncontrollably? What if I wee myself? Terrible thought. I start to sweat a little bit.
Our guide Goff introduces himself and the other two guys who'll be taking care of our little seven-people-strong group, and goes through the safety instructions, which are fairly simple: lift your feet when flying towards a platform, and the only one who is allowed to hook you on and off the zip-line are the guides. I can remember that.
Now I only have to manage to be among the ones of the group who go last, in order to make sure that should I have an embarrassing moment what with the screaming and the weeing and all, it'll go unnoticed.
"So has anyone done zip-lining before?", asks Goff before we head to the first platform.
Loz confirms this, resulting in the group in unison voting for him to go first, and, since I'm his girl-friend, naturally I'm second. Brilliant. Just according to plan.
Before I can manage to think this all through, Loz has hopped off the platform, Goff quickly checks all my ties and hooks -"Your turn!" and WOOOOHOOOO! - off I zip! With the elegancy of a limp rag I fly towards the platform, and Utt, the other assistant guide, routinely catches me before I hit the tree, just as I'm crying out: "This is AWESOME!".
The next two hours spin away on the fly - we never really stop, and 33 platforms, 18 zip-lines, 3 sky bridges, 2 abseils and 1 tree house later, everyone dons a big, fat smile for the closing group photo. Our guides wave us good-bye, as we jump on the mini-bus again back to the base, where we take our harnesses off, get our stuff from the locker - and are lead to a little restaurant where we have a delicious lunch, which, even better, is included in the package!
We're asked to fill out a little review form on our zip-lining experience, and I honestly have to give 10 out of 10 points on every single question - I loved it! Loz still rambles on about his favourite zip-line where you are attached at your back so that you fly the line like superman (at least in your imagination - I can assure you that you will feel like superman, and I can also assure you that you will NOT look anything like him while flying) into a big net that you have to grab.
I can't even decide what I liked best - spending time in the rainforest, the views from the platforms / the tree house, the actual zip-lining, the abseiling, all the laughing and screaming... I do decide that this is an experience I can wholeheartedly recommend - and it's not even quite over yet!
After lunch we take another drive to a waterfall, where we have the opportunity to wander around for a little bit, and then it's finally time to head back to Chiang Mai.
Later on the same day we receive an email with a picture of us in full harness before we set off to fly like gibbons. I'm already wearing the helmet, and therefore will refrain from sharing that one with you. It's for your own good, believe me.
So my verdict? It was so much fun that I completely forgot being disappointed that nobody (including myself) got stuck at all! And throughout the whole time our guides made us feel really safe; constantly checking our equipment, always focused, answering all our questions; yet still goofing around all the time and showing off various crazy zip-lining techniques (I tried hard, but I didn't get much further than the before-mentioned limp-rag style...).
One last thing that has me recommend "Flight of the Gibbon" is that a percentage of their profits goes to rainforest rehabilitation and protecting Gibbons and other native primates - win-win for everyone!
And there you have it - this was my take on zip-lining in the rainforest of Thailand; thanks for reading! Of course you still don't know how loud YOU are going to scream when you're flying through the tree-tops! Would you like to try zip-lining? Or have you already done it and adopted "Tarzan" or "Indiana Jones" as your middle name? The comment-section is all yours!
Note: our GetYourGuide tree top zip-lining adventure in Chiang Mai was provided to us by GetYourGuide. They are the ones responsible for letting us loose on their website in order to find something fun to do (not difficult!). All graceful swinging action, and thoughts about aforementioned graceful swinging action, remain entirely our own.