A few days ago, my mother decided we should go ziplining. I did some research and asked around and decided not to go with Flight of the Gibbons – Chiang Mai’s most popular ziplining destination. I’d heard their safety wasn’t great and that they guarantee gibbon sightings by tying gibbons to trees. Whether that’s true or not, they are Chiang Mai’s major company so I’m going with a less corporate outfit.
So we went with a smaller operation run by Thais who are dedicated to forest conservation and personal safety with great scenic views of the mountains, valleys and the rushing white water of the Mae Taeng River. The operation is called Zipline Chiang Mai. Not only are they cheaper, they are informative, fun and they take their time. We ziplined 14 lines in the forest. The longest one was 400 meters suspended above a valley and the rushing river about 300 meters above the ground. The fastest line was 40 kph. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Better than drugs!
We were outfitted with harnesses, helmets, gloves and two hang lines in case one failed. After our safety session, with my Nikon strapped to a carabiner at my waist, we set off to begin our adventure. Our first ziplines were 50 meters, not far above the valley floor. Just to get us comfortable. We then graduated to 100 meter lines each one a little steeper, a little faster and a little higher. My mom took a 100 meter line really fast and failed to break at all, slamming her lower body into a tree platform. She was in pain but thankfully nothing broke and there was no blood. She’ll suffer some bruising and stiffness but after a quick break and some ice to the back of her knee, she kept going. The moral of the story: use your breaks no matter what. Always watch your landing and go in smoothly! Ziplining is extremely fun especially if you control your experience instead of flailing on the line. She learned the lesson the hard way and never repeated it.
As the lines got more intense and we did more and more of them, we grew more comfortable and confident. The excitement of flying through the air removed any fear or doubt. I never paid much attention to the fact that I was suspended so high above the forest floor. This is not an exercise for those who are afraid of heights. Thankfully we are not afraid and we both love flying. I’ve parasailed in Mexico and taken skydiving flights at Burning Man (I was not allowed to jump but one day I will!) but this is much different. The views were breathtaking and the exhilaration with it all is quite addicting. Our Thai ziplining guides said I was pro after a few lines. Were they just petting my ego or do I really have something here?
Given the chance, I would highly recommend going ziplining if you haven’t already. If you have already, well then, you know what I’m talking about. If you find yourself in Northern Thailand, I highly recommend Zipline Chiang Mai! Worth every baht!