I was initially sceptical when a friend (who works as a safety professional) suggested going zip lining in Thailand. He and his partner had been previously and were keen to return, which were both good signs, but it was his description of the well maintained equipment and sound safety procedures executed by well trained staff that convinced me to give it a go.
Flight of the Gibbon runs zip lines in Siem Reap, Chiang Mai and Bangkok/Pattaya. We visited the last of these, an hour from Bangkok in the Khao Kheow Open Safari in Chonburi. While you may catch a glimpse of a gibbon, the zip line is named because it mimics the way gibbons navigate through the jungle i.e. you are the gibbon. The company is also committed to the preservation and conservation of gibbons, donating 10% of profits to primate rehabilitation, reforestation projects and ecological education programs.
As promised, there was a clear focus on safety, with staff ensuring the correct fit of our harnesses and helmets and briefing us thoroughly before we hiked up to the first platform. We were part of a group of ten initially, but one person chickened out at the safety briefing and another made it to the first platform before turning back. One by one we nervously launched from the first platform and whizzed briefly through the jungle before being caught by one of the guides at platform two. Last to leap was Ahmet who hovered nervously by the edge. This is the point of no return, and keen to not lose another man we encouragingly chanted ‘Ahmet, Ahmet, Ahmet’ until he finally gave in and flew towards us, screaming the whole way. He quickly recovered though and a few platforms later he switched to the front of the line and lead the way.
We spent fun couple of hours navigating the three kilometers of zip lines strung between 24 platforms with the occasional sky bridge or rappel descent to break it up. The height off the ground and length of the zip line sections varied, with the longest an epic 300 meter flight. All too soon we were making our final rappel to the base and I could see why my friends had been keen to return to fly through the jungle again.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore the Khao Kheow Open Safari, so hope to see it next time. It was however somewhat of a primate-themed trip as we also visited Khao Sam Muk (Monkey Hill) the home of hundreds of monkeys. Roadside vendors sell monkey food, and as a result the monkeys are brazen, climbing onto car roofs and chewing aerials, and baring their teeth and charging when the owners try to chase them off. We escaped unscathed from both experiences and are keen to zip line again in Chonburi or try one of the other courses.