Well, Coley and I thought that we left all the extreme adventure activities back in New Zealand, but I guess we were wrong. During our time in Chiang Mai we unexpectedly decided to partake in a once in a lifetime opportunity to zip line through the 1500-year-old Mae Kompong jungle in northern Thailand. The Flight of the Gibbon experience is advertised as the best attraction in Thailand and “perfect for extreme fun lovers.” We were sold.
We were booked on the sunrise experience, so we arrived at the Flight of the Gibbon office bright and early after an hour drive up the mountain on the windiest roads imaginable. They got us set up with a harness and helmet and we met our two Thai guides for the day named “Big Daddy” and Joe. We were lucky that our group was comprised of us and seven of our new friends that we met in Thailand earlier in the week. Finally, we were driven high into the canopy where we walked to the first platform and were ready to go.
Since this was a last minute decision we honestly didn’t know much about it and thought that we would get to go on maybe three different zip lines if we were lucky. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we’d be spending 3 hours soaring through the rainforest on three kilometers and 39 different stations of zip lines.
We started out with a few short lines and worked our way up to the longer and obviously more awesome ones. As we made our way through the course, first Joe would zip to the next platform and Big Daddy would stay with us to hook us up and send us down the line one by one. The funniest part of zip lining was the landings on the next platform, most of which were not too graceful. Joe (who was nearly 5 foot tall) would try to catch us as we came flying towards him, sometimes at ridiculous speeds and sometimes backwards or sideways. On some of the lines we would fly into nets and then climb them up to the platform like we were in some type of obstacle course. Another nice surprise was that there were many different types of lines and ways we could fly across. There was a two person (“honeymoon”), a few abseil (“mission impossible”), a head first (“superman”), a zigzag swing, and even an upside-down line where we hung by our feet.
The zip lining experience is called Flight of the Gibbons because there is a chance that during your time in the jungle you can see gibbons, which are apes native to Southeast Asia. The only time we’ve seen gibbons before was on Planet Earth so we were really excited about this possibility. We were told that our chances of seeing one might be slim since it is currently the rainy season in Thailand. However, we were extremely fortunate that we spotted a father, mother, and baby gibbon hanging out in a tree above us. The gibbons are known for their loud hooting calls, which are oddly enough quite similar to the “woo” sound we make as we’re on the zip line.
Coley and I both agree that this was hands down our favorite activity we’ve done on our trip thus far because it was a perfect combination of thrilling and fun without being too scary or life threatening. It was also an incredible experience alone to spend three hours in a jungle and see a family of gibbons in the tree above us. Lesson of the day: sometimes the best adventures are the ones you didn’t plan.
No, we’re not referring to the beloved yuletide hit “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” We’re talking about a document crucial to all travelers in the planning stages of their trip: the packing list. Sure, you can buy toothpaste or a new pair of flip-flops at your destination, but do you really want to leave home without your contacts or most comfortable walking shoes? Being blind and blistery in a foreign country doesn’t sound like the most rockin’ time imaginable. Hence, why creating a precise packing list is a must. So, where do you start?
1: Pick your pack
What brand? What size? What color? These are all questions to take into consideration when choosing your backpack. It’s all about your personal preference and traveling style. Kim and I fancy ourselves to be “fashionable/flashpack” travelers, so after three separate trips to the REI store, hours of research, and several fittings later, we decided to go with the Women’s Gregory Jade 60. Durable, stylish, and the perfect size for our 7 week expedition.
Step 2: Yes, No, Maybe
Once you pick out your backpack, you have to pick what goes in it. Luckily, my BFF Kim and I wear the same size clothes. This means twice the wardrobe selection on the trip (remember this perk when choosing your travel partners!). To choose what clothes to bring we went through our closets and assigned every item a “yes”, “no”, or “maybe.” It was kind of like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter…only not. Then, we compared our lists to prevent similar items on our lists from making the cut. The key to picking the right clothes are to determine if they’re low maintenance in terms of care (no dry clean only, sequins and beading, etc.) and versatility (can you wear that cardigan with at least 75% of the other clothes in the backpack?). If the answer is no, then it’s probably not worth bringing. Essentially, we just picked a lot our favorite clothes because we knew that’s what we would wear the most.
Step 3: Dry Run
Try to fit everything on your list into your backpack. More than likely, not everything will fit. This just means you’ll have to make adjustments to your packing list and remove items. Kim and I went through our packing lists several times before choosing the right amount of items. It turned out that nothing on the “maybe” list even made the final cut and only 50% of the items on the original “yes” list did either. Try putting different items into different compartments on the pack to find the best fit. Put items used most in easy-to-reach spots. Also, don’t forget to leave some room in the backpack for souvenirs and other items you’ll want to purchase on the road. Just figure out what works best for you; you’ve got this in the bag.
So I’m sure you’re curious exactly what we brought on our 7 week trip to 4 countries with vastly different temperatures? Check it out!