How I Became a Ziplining Pro

On a pure and inexplicable whim, my friend and I signed up for a canopy adventure with Rotorua Canopy Tours. It is a tour through a “secret” forest protected by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. What makes this unique is that most of the tour is made high above the ground, as high as 40 meters in some points, using ziplines, treetop platforms, and hanging bridges. It is not a mere hiking tour, it is a flying tour!

Before this, I tried ziplining only once in my life and after a long moment of hesitation. And here I was, traversing Rotorua’s forest while suspended in mid-air. The tour starts with short ziplines, just enough to shake off the tension and anxiety and to build up one’s courage and confidence. The latter is very much needed because the tour culminates with a 220 meter-long zipline and a hanging bridge with no hand rails. To bring it up a notch higher, the guides incorporate fun challenges like falling backwards from the platform when on the longest zipline or a hands-free pose in the hanging bridge.

This tour does not require much physical fitness – just enough endurance to walk uphill around 300-400 meters, a good dose of courage, a non-existent fear of heights, and a great spirit of adventure.

Although I had no plans of doing this, I was glad I did. I hiked, and even flew around, a protected forest where I saw the country’s silver fern. I contributed to the forest conservation program, as part of the fee goes to the fund. I was one of the few sightseers. This is the term they give to those who miss the handle at the end of the 220 meter zipline and end up sliding back to, and swinging around, the 100 meter portion of the line, amidst the lush trees of the forest (Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I was too far away from the platforms,  the fun but flustering moment could not be captured by the cameras). And at the end of it all, I became a pro in ziplining. Well, a pro, by my less demanding standards.

Canyoning: A different kind of adventure

“Be prepared to get wet,” was our initial hint of the adventure ahead, when we signed up for a morning hike in Canso X,* a mountain adventure park in our side of the world – Balamban, Cebu. Based on our limited knowledge of the topography, we anticipated a river trek, getting a bit of splash on our heels and legs. We have climbed mountains, scaled rocks, and trekked rivers. But, little did we know that we were in for a different kind of adventure that morning.

After a night of camping in the woods of Canso X, we started with a hike up the hills and across the valleys of Balamban. Rolling endlessly before us was the breathtaking panorama of the lush hills. It is the kind of verdant landscape that soothes the eyes and rejuvenates the jaded city spirit.

Since we chose the extreme hike, our guide led us to a steeper trail of the hills. But it was not a brutal climb, just a soft and steady ascent up to the hills before descending towards the river bed. We discovered only then that Balamban has hidden gorges. It is spectacularly carved over time by the ebb and flow of the river. Clear waters surged and flowed between the sculptured rocks and cliffs, making it ideal for the adventure we signed up for.

Canyoning (or alternatively known as canyoneering). Yes, there is a serious technical term for what we did. We traveled through the gorges by climbing, swimming, sliding, rappelling, and jumping. The highlight, and the greatest challenge for all of us, was a jump from 6-8 feet rock into an 18-feet deep water. But there was a choice to take a tempered descent by rappelling down the rock before plunging into the water.

We realized that the fears, both known and unknown, is at its peak while on the threshold of leaping. Jump before the mind has the time to conjure those fears. And think, how many times can you do this in your lifetime? That emboldened a lot of us to jump into the refreshingly cool and clear water.

For those among us who took the challenging leap, we will always remember the gleeful-shriek, wide-grin exhilarating moment after we conquered the fear and felt the thrill of the jump.

Indeed, most of the best adventures are the unplanned and unexpected. This was definitely one of those.

 

*Contact details are: landline: (032) 411 1600 loc. 1472 mobile nos.: 0923-9787640(sun) 0915-3455661(globe) 0917-7212535(globe) or https://www.facebook.com/Canso.XHBC

Traveler’s Tales: Hanoi*

 

Yes, it’s true: Hanoi is marked by the chaos of motorcycles and pedestrians. But while it may seem life-threatening to cross the streets of Hanoi with a horde of motorcycles approaching you, there is actually a technique in making it to the other side in one piece. Our guide revealed that you should not wait for the motorcycle drivers to stop–because they won’t. Walk slowly, steadily, and without hesitation. The motorcycles will simply swerve to avoid you. Trust me, it does work. I was able to make it back to the Philippines without any injuries.

Hanoi is also known as the “City of Lakes” for the obvious reason that the city is speckled with many lakes. In contrast to the chaos of the streets, the waters are serene and scenic settings for rest, recreation, or sightseeing.

But aside from the lakes, there is so much to see and do in Hanoi. During the trip, we traversed the Old Quarter, strolled the French Quarter, visited Ho Cho Minh’s mausoleum, shopped for local products and branded overruns, oriented with Vietnamese culture, and indulged in the Vietnamese food and coffee. We even made a side trip to Ha Long Bay, the recently declared new wonder of the world. The jump-off point to Halong Bay is a mere three-hour drive from Hanoi.

The visit was short but long enough to be captivated by the charm of Hanoi’s beautiful chaos. Scroll through the gallery for a glimpse of Hanoi’s charms. Click here  for photos and reasons why you should immerse in the beautiful chaos of Vietnam’s capital city.

 

*As published in Female Network.com.