I’m not great with heights. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of them because I believe that the particular amount of fear I have is entirely reasonable, though others may disagree. As someone who has a completely logical perception of height, which is how I will refer to myself from now on, I really should have done my research before signing up to zip lining…
Over the past few days I have put all my trust into three Lao guides, a harness and a wooden hook that they called ‘the brake’. It was just me and my boyfriend on the trip so we had the luxury of full attention from our guides, no mounting worry as we queued for our turn and a smaller crowd to cry in front of (much needed).
Me with my ‘brake’ at the end of one of the shorter zip lines.
The first day started well, after a bouncy bus ride and a long trek through the jungle we were feeling too tired to care about falling or injuring ourselves. We were simply wrapped in harnesses, clipped on to wires and thrust from a ledge into the wilderness! We zipped over plummeting drops, cascading waterfalls and towering trees. For a moment I thought I might actually have a wildly unreasonable perception of heights because I was loving it!
Then came the difficulty… The nice thing about zip lines is that once you’ve made that initial jump you don’t really do much else. There’s no point you can stop or turn back, you’re just going. This isn’t true of canopy walks. Jeez Louise, the canopy walks! Unlike flying carefree through the air, we actually had to move our legs step by step over swinging metal wires and gaping drops. Despite being safely attached to a harness, my legs were shaking, my eyes were bulging and my, well, everything was sweating. It’s probably worth mentioning we were suspended about 50 metres in the air so it wouldn’t be a light fall. The decent was slow and ugly and I started to rethink signing up to two days at sky height.
A Canopy Walk that I’d rather forget…
There was also an issue with my height. Some of the the zip lines were set about 6 feet off the platform, I’m 5”2 so a good leg up and a shove was needed to get attached. Now that sounds easy enough but when you’re on the edge of a 100 metre drop trying to catapult yourself on to a sloping metal wire, it doesn’t feel so simple. Unfortunately there was absolutely no sympathy for me as the Lao gentleman that we were being guided by were just as small as me and jumped on and off the wires very nimbly. I was definitely much less graceful. In fact, I head butted one of our guides at one point.
Finally, there was the rock climbing. This is a situation that I am not proud of… I could argue that the handles were simply too far apart for someone of my height but I’m not going to. Long story short, I ended up clinging to the side of a fairly small wall of rock, crying loudly and refusing to let two of our Lao guides help me. Just to tell my side of the story, this cliff face was looking over a 250 metre tall waterfall and a nice array of sharp rocks. Eventually, when they decided there was absolutely no way to coax me up the wall, I had to be lifted by a makeshift rope harness by three men to the top of the rocks. It wasn’t pretty but it did mean that I could close my eyes all the way up and block out the whole memory if needs be, which I think it does. In fact, I think it best not be mentioned from now on!
The huge waterfall at the bottom of the zip lining experience.
In conclusion, I am officially definitely scared of heights and in my opinion, rightly so! I definitely did not conquer my fear on this occasion but I did do everything despite crippling fear (except the situation that won’t be mentioned). So, call me biased but I reckon being terrified and trying is much more impressive than conquering the fear! Though, I probably won’t be trying again…
If you’re thinking of doing the Tree Top Experience in Laos yourself, my boyfriend and I will be reviewing it soon on our travelling blog here.
If you want the quick answer, do it!