Monday, January 17, 2011

Flight of the Gibbons

This weekend the family went to the Flight of the Gibbons zip lining attraction with the Cub Scouts. The Flight is in the Khao Kheow Open Zoo, just under a two hour drive from Bangkok.

We were zip lining on Sunday, but we arrived on Saturday in order to spend the night in the park. The zoo has air conditioned tents which were actually pretty nice. It wasn't exactly five stars, as you had to walk a bit to the bathrooms (which were nice), but it certainly wasn't roughing it. The worst part of the trip was when I stepped out of the tent for the first time and twisted my ankle It hurt a bit for the entire trip; not enough to keep me from enjoying the activities, but enough to remind me of my misstep.

After a pretty good buffet dinner, they took us on a night safari. Tim stayed in the tent, as she wasn't feeling too well. The kids really enjoyed it.

We were supposed to be a part of the 8:00 a.m. zip lining group, but I had originally signed Aleena and myself for the smaller Go Gibbon course. Tim wanted to change it because Aleena had done the bigger Flight of the Gibbons in Chiang Mai last spring. David (the Pack Master and trip organizer) was kind enough to do some reshuffling and we ended up in the 8:45 group.

As we had a very large group, they assured us that we would have the course to ourselves in the morning. The reason that this is significant is that they have a limited number of guides, and very strict numbers on how many people could be on the course at once. Their assurance was apparently worthless, as there were others on the course. This ended up pushing back our start times. Our family ended up being pushed back until 11:00 because we had to wait for guides. We didn't know that the guides had arrived for ten or fifteen minutes, as the operators decided to wait until 3 or 4 more people showed up to make it a full group. With the help of one of the foreign workers there, we started pushing to leave with just the five of us. They started putting on our safety gear when another group arrived to join us.

The course itself consists of twenty-four platforms, sixteen zip lines, two suspended bridges and two abseils (rappels). The longest zip line is 300 meters long, and at times you are fifty meters above the ground in the trees. While their customer service around wait time leaves a lot to be desired, their attention to safety was very good. You are always hooked to some sort of cable, making falling largely something you would have to work hard to do.

Each group has two guides. One guide will zip over the line first in order to help you when you land, while the other stays to help launch you.

Even though I knew that I wouldn't fall, I'm not particularly comfortable standing on the platforms. The actual zip lining itself was fine. Aleena was more than uncomfortable, after the first or second zip line she became afraid. She settled down a bit, but she was pretty anxious to get it over with. Sometimes Aleena and Nalin went hooked together, and a few times Aleena went with one of the guides.

Jacob was a complete monkey; he would turn upside down on the zip lines and he had a great time. At one point he didn't make it all the way over to the other side because he didn't weigh enough. The guide had to go out and haul him in as we yell "bye Jacob, see you later."

Tim recorded some video with her Canon HG20. I didn't bring my slr, but instead a tiny Kodak underwater camera. The guides took most of the photos for us, but unfortunately they didn't turn out so well. It wasn't their fault so much as the fact is the camera wasn't particularly great. I found out that I could bring my slr, and that its pretty unlikely to drop it. Next time I might bring my old Canon Rebel with an inexpensive lens. It will be a big improvement over a smaller camera, and if something happened to it, it wouldn't be as big of a deal.

We finished at 2:00 and they took us to a restaurant for lunch that was included in the package. If I had known how weak it was, I would have just had them drop us off at the hotel so we could get our car and leave. We each had a small bowl of weak curry, some vegetables, a little fruit and a glass of water. After they delivered the food, the waiter disappeared, and we couldn't even order drinks (which we would have had to pay for). After we left we stopped at a restaurant along side the road and Tim bought some really good roasted pork and chicken.

Despite the twisted ankle and the wait time, the weekend was a lot of fun. Below are a few videos that Tim recorded. I'll probably post more later.

No comments: