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  • Soaring About the Treetops by Erica Ambrose 2008

    Last weekend I had the amazing opportunity to fly through the treetops of the Thai jungle on Koh Samui. It was one of the most exhilarating, and slightly frightening experiences, of my life. A company called Canopy Adventures offers the ride of a lifetime on a series of 6 zip lines running through the jungle. This excursion is not for the faint of heart. The ride up to the site was almost more dangerous than the zip lines were! They run 4 trips a day that last about 3 hours in total. The cost is 1700 baht.

    Our trip began at 2:00 p.m. which was a lovely time for an excursion for those of you not interested in dragging yourself out of bed for a 9 a.m. day trip. The first half of the journey was run of the mill. Then things changed as the roads became half paved but mostly gravel and fairly rough. We all had to keep alert to avoid getting whipped in the face by tree branches. As we continued our ascent the road became more and more bumpy and we were all holding on to whatever bars were available. It was a rocky ride most of the way up. Then we passed a sign that read “No vehicles beyond this point”. The road was essentially straight up and covered in boulders and decidedly not flat. This did not stop our driver from forging ahead. Thankfully we all arrived unscathed if only slightly jittery.

    We were then suited up with our equipment. We each received a harness with numerous carabiners and clips, as well as a pair of work gloves that had seen better days. We were told they were for braking. Braking? We have to brake? We then marched up a mountain in the boiling heat for about 15 minutes and past a gorgeous waterfall. When we got to the 1st platform we stopped to rest and did some basic zip line training. We all got instructed on how to brake so we would not come slamming into the platform after the first zip line.

    Reaching the top of the platform was exciting and slightly unsettling, looking down we realized we were about 200 meters above the ground, and the platform was none too steady! We also discovered we were above the tops of many trees, above the canopy indeed! Our guides assured us it was safe and away we went one by one jumping off the platform and zipping through the trees. The first jump was the toughest because I was concerned about actually braking and not screwing up! All went smoothly. By the second jump I was able to relax and enjoy watching the jungle fly by. The third platform was very steep and fast and was the most fun, but also the most frightening for those wary of speed. When we reached the fourth platform our guides said if we were brave enough we could jump without holding onto the zip line and experience a second of free fall. I leaped at the opportunity, and it was well worth it. The feeling of throwing yourself into the abyss if only for a moment is amazing!

    Our Thai guides were very comfortable on the zip line and put on a show by zipping upside down and braking with their feet. Knowing a few things about high ropes safety, this is very dangerous. Our guides also enjoyed scaring us by jumping off the platform before we were unclipped, thus shaking the zip line, which made the entire platform shake and sway. It was crazy! “Safety First” is not the motto of Thailand. All in all it was a great trip, and an experience I will not soon forget. I would recommend it to anyone with an adventurous spirit.