Well, for those that saw my 52 Weeks of Happy this week, will now know I went paragliding this weekend. I wouldn't say it has always been on my list of things to do- but when the opportunity arose, I decided to go for it.
Now I wouldn't say I was scared- It was a tandem glide after all- but I'm sure Mrs Roosevelt would have approved in that it certainly was something outside my comfort zone. Now there have been a few of those experiences in the last few years, but this one was quite gentle in comparison. I'm sure if I had to learn how to do it on my own and actually fly the thing- I would be terrified.
Luckily for me, all I had to do was leave it in the capable hands of the instructor.
There was a group of us that decided to have a go and so we watched and waited until our turn came. Trekking the last couple of hundred metres up to the top of the hill was worth it in itself as the view from the top was beautiful. Looking down and across the plains to the sea in the north and behind us lay the hills and valleys of the jungle/ rainforest below. In the distance Mount Kinabalu was peeking above us through the clouds.
Standing on the top of the hill, I watched as the others followed instructions, got harnessed in and took off, soaring off the side of the hill and down to the landing site below. They made it look easy!
Last to go, I strapped myself into the harness (Like putting on a large backpack, with a large padded strap to sit on) and then got attached to my instructor who was standing behind me. The instruction I had was "Just keep on running"-
"Oh down and off the edge" came the reply-
Now I was nervous!!!
Go, go go- Run!- and so I did for about two steps and then somehow ended falling downwards and sideways, down the slope with a Malay instructor on top of me- my head upside down on the slope and my feet in the air! I don't think that was supposed to happen!!!
They were all a little concerned, but as we managed to entangle ourselves from each other and clamber back up the slope we were still smiling.
Sorry- side wind- was the excuse- Try again.
So we did.
I got nowhere..
Except side ways down the slope, with the instructor on top of me again, upside down, with my head down the slope and my feet in the air.... etc etc
More than a little concerned this time- but I came up smiling.
"Third time lucky" they said.
And so we waited- the wind picked up
I ran.. and soon my little legs were cycling mid air with nothing to run on- we were up!!
Oh, but it was worth it. The minute we were airborne and the wind just takes over- it seems effortless- so graceful and almost peaceful. You can hear the wind rustling around and in the 'wing' above you, but you're up there, soaring.
"Now,this is paragliding" said the instructor- "The nearest feeling to flying like a bird, with no engine"- and he was right- it was.
The views were amazing- The feeling was amazing, gently swooping down and then back up with the thermals.
Looking out towards the sea and back towards the mountain- 10 short minutes of pleasure, grinning all the way.
Until we landed, literally with a bump, onto solid ground.
Was it worth it? Despite the scratches and bruises - it certainly was!
It wasn't the great adrenaline rush that I somehow expected it to be, but I loved every minute of it.
I would certainly do it again- Only the next time- I hope I don't end upside down with my feet in the air!!