What, I hear you ask, could possibly be better than ziplining, hiking, and flying through the jungle alongside gibbons in Thailand? I’ll tell you; doing it for free!
It has been a week since we returned from Chiang Mai. A week. That is an unacceptable amount of time to go without posting about such a wacky and wonderful weekend. I’ve had a fairly busy week, and all my downtime has been spent doing absolutely nothing. I’ve had no inclination to write this post, and I have finally deemed this fact unacceptable. So here we are amidst leftover Mexican food and jelly.
Way back in December, Jade and I completed the Flight of the Gibbon experience in Chonburi, near Bangkok. It was wonderful, a brilliant day that was marred by some dis-organisational issues at the facility. We emailed to complain about this, whilst stating how awesome the actual Flight was, and they offered us a free trip to the facility in Chiang Mai, in addition to the box of goodies we were sent. The day we chose was Sat Feb 7th.
Chiang Mai is far from Roi-Et. Really pretty damn far. About 13 hours on a bus to be exact. The buses in Thailand are rarely close to full at night, and run pretty often, so we planned to get the overnight bus on the Friday evening and arrive at Chiang Mai bus station. Here we planned to be collected, taken to complete the Flight of the Gibbon course in time to be dropped back off and get a night bus home to Roi-Et. Seems like a lot of fussing for one trip on a zipline, but that’s how much we decided it was worth.
We opted to get the latest bus on Friday evening so we had time when we finished work to get to the bus station. When we arrived there, we were told it was full; somehow we had never considered this to be a possibility. We sat around strategizing for a few minutes, deciding we wouldn’t leave until the bus did in case there were spare seats etc. After an age of waiting, the ticket lady managed to sort two seats, not next to each other, and one with a change of seats a third of the way into the journey. We jumped at them.
The collection time for Chiang Mai was 8am, and the bus was due in at 7:15am, so we were a bit nervous about the bus arriving nearly half an hour late. Not matter, we climbed on board and were thankful we were at least on our way to Chiang Mai. When I woke up the next morning after a perfectly OK sleep on the bus, I discovered it was 8:15am and we still had 20Km to go. A nightmare time wise, especially as we had travelled all that way to miss out. Sure enough, when we arrived, the pick-up driver had been and gone, and we were stuck in a McDonalds on the outskirts of a random city 13 hours away from home.
After buying a coffee and retrieving the free wifi code, we managed to email the lovely guy who gave us the free trip to cheekily ask if they could tag us onto a later pick-up that day. Thankfully, he managed to do just that, for the 12:30-1pm pick-up. Yes it meant milling around the McDonalds and Star Avenue shops, but it was definitely going to be worth it.
Once we were collected and taken to the Chiang mai flight area, we quickly realised that all the instructors at the Flight of the Gibbon facilities are a little crazy. Fun, but crazy. Not that we minded, we had a laugh, they taught us a tiny bit of Thai, and we managed to talk to some different people than we usually do in Roi-Et.
The course itself was really awesome. There was a zipline 800m long, lots of honeymoon ziplines where jade and I got to go together and take the world’s worst selfies, and even one where the rope attached to the back, so you got to jump off and fly like superman into a cargo net at the other end. It was really, really awesome, way better than the one in Chonburi. We got to see some of the gibbons the place is named after (at a distance with little biting activity possible) and got to trek through the jungle area for a bit, the whole location was beautiful. When we returned to the base, we were given a proper Thai meal, which tasted really good, and were piled back on the bus to see a small waterfall and return to the bus station.
To avoid the seat debacle on the way there, we had bought tickets for the latest bus back to Roi-Et to ensure we could sit together, and that we would get back in time. At 7pm, an hour before our scheduled leaving time, we were still miles away from Chiang Mai. At the first drop off, a few miles later, we showed the bus driver our ticket and watched him shake his head and run round the bus – never a good sign. He proceeded to drop us off with a random (turned out to be another Flight of the Gibbon driver from the last drop off time) driver to take us back to the bus station. It was a tens affair, but we made it in time. Phew.
After a long, absolutely freezing, and fairly sleep deprived bus journey, we decided to go to Robinson’s to get some Western food in for our Mexican night.After walking the 30 minute walk just after 8am we had a sickening realisation that the place might not be open that early in the morning. Sure enough, when we arrived, we were left to sit around for close to two hours doing nothing but read and play on sporcle.
It was a long and crazy weekend, and despite the hiccups along the way, was well worth it!