A Change of Pace on Koh Phangan
It was another brilliantly sunny day on Koh Phangan when Nomadic American and I decided to take a break from sipping lime & soda cocktails from a teapot by the pool at our resort, Lime & Soda. After a day and a half of banana splits, cocktails, dips in the slightly too deep pool, and soaking in the sun on the resort’s private beach – a little adventure was in order.
Pairing up with a Polish couple, we clambered into the back of our bumpy jeep and prepared for a day of outdoor adventures.
The World’s Dodgiest Zipline
The first stop on our tour was a zip line ‘tour’. While Koh Phangan does boast a number of very professional zip-line operators such as Jungle Flight and Just for Fun, our tour took us up into the hills where we came across a relatively simple zip-line setup: two lines running to and from a large tree in a valley.
Not possessing a fear of heights and having done a zip-line tour in New Zealand, I wasn’t feeling particularly daunted until I was handed a pronged stick and told that it would be my brake. No fancy in built brakes here, folks!
Thankfully, our harnesses and the actual line looked perfectly secure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a tad discouraged by the idea of a stick broken off a nearby tree being all that stood between me and a painful landing.
The first line was the longest, and terminated somewhat abruptly in a combination net/giant tire style pad.
From there, I’d clamber up a few flights of steps to a rickety tower and launch myself back towards the starting point for a steep climb up the dusty, narrow path to the top of the hill.
Despite the generally rickety appearance of the whole affair, we both obviously made it out in one piece. Despite my initial concerns about safety, it was easy enough to forget once I was shooting through the canopy with the warm sun on my skin and the wind in my (beard) hair.
Koh Phangan Wipeout
The next stop on our whistle-stop tour of Koh Phangan was the famous Koh Phangan Wipeout, an aquatic obstacle course full of swings, upper body workouts, and embarrassing (but hilarious) plummets into the startlingly cold lake water.
After a hurried safety demonstration, it’s time to launch off from the big swing. A naturally graceful man, I hit the water with nary a splash…
The course then proceeded to run me through a series of obstacles that reminded me just how out of shape I truly was. I handled the monkey bars with aplomb, but climbing up the slick and constantly moving inflatable obstacles proved immensely taxing.
Once I did manage to get to the top, my time there was short-lived. I hit the first of the red balls, bounced to the right, and landed back first in the water.
Once we’d both run the obstacle, we decided to tackle Wipeout’s infamous ‘Blob’ – an inflated cushion that acts as a catapult. Heather positioned herself at the lake end and I readied myself to jump off a high platform and send her catapulting into the lake.
Despite having followed their instructions and hitting where I was told to, poor Heather didn’t go forward at all. Instead, she went straight up.
She then came down head-first, striking the mat and disappearing into the water.
Worried that she might have broken her neck or knocked herself out, I hurriedly swam to her and used my limited lifesaving skills to tow her back to the steps so we could get her out. I was a little annoyed that despite her obvious difficulty I was the only one trying to help – the staff seemed content to watch on while I tried to tow a clearly scared and struggling girl in only minutes after exhausting myself on the course.
Once we were on solid ground, it was clear that Heather had avoided the worst, but she did rock a nasty headache for the rest of the day.
The Jungle Hike
The third leg of our journey came after a pretty tasty picnic lunch. We’d be trekking on foot into the jungle to visit a secluded waterfall.
All four of us were feeling refreshed after our lunch of BBQ chicken, salad, and soda – but it didn’t take long before we all sacrificed chatter for heavy breathing and the occasional arm-waving that accompanies attempting not to fall over on uneven ground.
By the time we reached the waterfall we were all drenched with sweat and had sore legs, but the walk had been totally worth it. The waterfall was beautiful and the pool at its base, blessedly cool.
The final step in our day of adventure was by far the most relaxing. Grabbing some snorkeling gear and wading out over slick rocks, we were soon immersed in a beautiful underwater landscape of vibrantly coloured fish and coral.
We weren’t alone in the area by any stretch, but there was plenty of reef for everybody, and it was a relaxing way to finish what had been a fun but entirely exhausting day.
It’s Fun to be Risky
While the day was certainly not without its near misses and risks, it was a lot of fun. The sometimes dated or non-existent safety equipment and the fact we were clambering over rocks, leaping from heights into water, launching ourselves off of unpredictable inflatable cushions, and using sticks to brake meant that we were glad we had travel insurance.
The worst didn’t happen, but I can’t imagine how we’d have handled things if Heather had seriously injured herself or one of us had broken an ankle while clambering over rocks on our way to the waterfall. Having a travel insurance policy with a company like Southern Cross travel insurance offers great piece of mind when you want to live on the wild side.
Do you like to take a walk on the wild side when you travel? Do you have any stories of near misses while on the road?