Flight of the Gibbon, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

I go ziplining over the rainforests of Thailand


July 2015

During our homestay at Mae Kampong, we had the option to go ziplining with Flight of the Gibbon. This wasn’t included in the tuition for Cal Poly Study Abroad, but every single student signed up. This was especially awesome since many people had never ever been ziplining before.

This would have normally been a long van ride out of Chiang Mai, but we were already right there. I think we might have actually walked to the sign in area. Either that, or the van ride was like 5min. long.

We signed our waivers and were fitted with harnesses and bright orange helmets.

We piled into vans again, and rode a little bit into the jungle.

We then spent hours zipping through the rainforest.

Taking leaps

Taking leaps

Our guides were very energetic and very funny. They hooked us up to the trees while we cheered for our friends.

Flying through the jungle

Flying through the jungle

We were told that there was a chance (a very small chance) of seeing gibbons while ziplining. I constantly scanned the canopy, searching for any sort of movement.

Luckily, there was a lot to look at. The ancient forest loomed up around us, vines and banana trees tangled through the land.

A massive tree in the middle of the rainforest

A massive tree in the middle of the rainforest

Sometimes, when we were at a high enough vantage point, we could see the whole jungled valley stretched out before us. We could see monsoons happening in patches merely 100s of feet away from us.

Rainforest views

Rainforest views

Sometimes we repelled down the sides of trees, or crossed rickety bridges.

Jungle trekking

Jungle trekking

I am not afraid of heights, especially when I know I am safely in a harness, so I didn’t have any trepidation in leaping off platforms or bouncing across bridges. However, one of the ziplines was not traditional: it involved a portion of freefall, and then a long rope would suddenly gain tension once you fell a certain distance. There was nothing to hold on to, and at the end of the flight, you had to grab onto a giant rope net. The freefall bit was stomach-dropping, and I admit that my scream that time was a bit genuine.

The Chiang Mai sector of Flight of the Gibbon also had a special flight: Asia’s longest single canopy zipline.

I absolutely believe it is Asia’s longest, because the flight lasted for a long while. The view took my breath away. Miles and miles of rainforest stretched in every direction, and I whizzed over streams and trees. It was an unforgettable sensation.

Ziplining over the jungle

Ziplining over the jungle

I don’t think I have any pictures of that particular flight, especially since it was so long, you couldn’t see the end of it from the initial platform.

There was one line that I had trouble with. I am a very petit human, and I didn’t weigh quite enough to make it across one of the canopies. I got stuck right in the middle. I wasn’t scared, but I was a bit concerned as to how the heck I was going to get down. I sat there in midair, waving down at the groups who were on courses below me.

...Stuck

…Stuck

Eventually, one of the guides used some ropes to come and fetch me, and I did the course again, making sure to push off much harder.

At one point, we stopped for a water break. I forget exactly who it was that pointed them out, but we all made our way to the end of a dirt path to look at……

Ziplining break

Ziplining break

GIBBONS!!!

GIBBONS!!

GIBBONS!!

They were dark brown except for one tan one, and they were the fuzziest creatures I had ever seen.

They were also very active. Two of them were playing with one another, doing flips around each other and leaping from branch to branch. At one point, the smallest gibbon missed the branch it was trying to leap to, and it began to plummet toward the ground. We all gasped in horror, but the gibbon lazily reached out its long arm and grabbed on to another branch, five feet from where it had fallen. I think I could have stayed here all day, watching the adorable gibbons frolic, but we eventually made our way back to the zipline courses.

Seeing gibbons in the wild was definitely my favorite part, and I feel so lucky that we got to see a whole bunch of them in a very active state.

After we were done, we got a ride back to the village for lunch & optional Thai massages. We got the option of riding in the comfy air-conditioned vans, or in the back of a rusty pickup truck. Guess which one we went with?

It was a blast. We all piled in to the back, which was extremely uncomfortable, especially with our large group of people. We drove on a muddy path winding up through the jungle, with the tropical breeze in our faces.

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