It was an amazing feeling, and if weren’t for the fact that the weather completely changed minutes after my take-off, I’d’ve gone up the mountain, paid another $30 and done it again.
Paragliding was one of the most amazing experiences: simply sitting in a harness, looking at the valley below with its tea plantations and the rows of traffic snaking their way over and around the mountains, some villages, and umpteen shades of green covered the hills. And in the sky was just a splash of blue from my paraglider plus a spot of yellow—my pilot’s jacket.
See, the week before, friends from church had mentioned that they had paraglided during their Easter break.
“I want to do that, too!” I blurted out.
“Oh, we can go again,” someone said.
“OK, how about next weekend?” I wondered out loud. There’s no point in wasting time when you only have a few weekends left in a country, is there?
Others piped in, a short discussion ensued, and before our ways parted minutes later, we had all agreed that we’d go to Puncak the very next weekend.
So, last weekend, after our Saturday night small group, we all squeezed into Diane’s van and headed to Sentul (a town in the mountains an hour or two outside Jakarta where the core group of adventurers live). We spent the night there and decided that the eight of us will head out earlyish the next morning, packed onto four motorbikes.
|Stopping halfway to our destination to stretch our legs|
|Some fruit stalls on the side of the road|
|Spot the foreigners...|
|We killed some time by taking a side road toward Taman Safari, an outdoor safari park. |
All the vendors on the side of the road sell bananas and carrots for people to feed the animals
|A vendor at a tourist spot where we stopped|
|Just looking at all the tourist stuff|
|Kiptoo checked out some of the bamboo balls...|
|... and hung out under some of the bonsai trees|
|Then we went to a little tea house/restaurant. Kiptoo wanted to pose with the napkin holder, |
since Sinarmas Pulp and Paper is the company that owns the school where I work...
|Enjoying some jokes over our snacks.. Katie is also leaving Indonesia soon.|
She's not laughing because she's happy to leave. She's laughing at the very immodest drink stirrer,
which is a very odd thing to see in this very modest country...
|Sally, we discovered, has a very odd habit of putting ketchup on individual fries... Is it an Aussie thing?|
When that seemed to be starting to happen, we headed farther up the mountain, disappointed to find that no flights were happening. Not yet, at least. We spent another hour or so sipping Indonesian clove tea at a mountainside warung (kiosk).
|Finally on the mountain. But as you can see, it's way foggy. So foggy that you cannot even see Diane in the picture!|
Why's Diane hiding behind Brittney and Tara??
|Fun conversations over some clove tea while waiting patiently for the fog to lift|
|We tried some steamed bananas. It is served with chocolate and grated cheese. Kiptoo and I decided that|
a) bananas should never be steamed
b) one should never put chocolate and cheese in the same dish, especially not on steamed bananas!
|Brittney, Lisa, Adele and Tara. And 99 bottles of soda on the wall...|
“Shall we go back?” I asked my seven friends.
“Why not? We’re not too far!” our lone Aussie, Sally, suggested. The four bikes turned right around and wiggled our way through back up the mountain, only to find that it was once again shrouded in a thick fog.
|Killing time once again by enjoying the zip line. You can see how foggy it still is!|
|Tara and Katie, coming in for a landing...|
|And it's a safe landing!|
|... and Lisa, happy to be back on the ground again|
I strapped in and only then I got a few butterflies. It’s a bit crazy running off a mountain, I thought to myself. What if the chute doesn’t open?
|Suddenly, the fog lifted and we were called to gear up|
|We're excited to fly. Can you tell?|
|Here, I think I was starting to wonder if I were nuts for wanting to run off a mountain...|
|Sally and I, both ready to fly|
Not that that’s an issue. You don’t run first and hope it opens. You stand on the mountain and some guys lift two corners. The wind does the rest. It fills the chute and almost immediately lifts you off the ground. At the same time, the pilot, who’s strapped in tandem behind you, says, “Walk!” Soon after, he’s supposed to say, “Run.” I was told not to jump under any circumstances. Just walk and run.
Except things didn’t work like that at first. A side wind twisted the chute right away, and the crew jumped to let out all the air and straighten the ropes again. I’ll admit that I felt a bit queasy right then again, wondering if this were really a safe adventure.
|Here, the corners of the chute is being lifted so it can catch some air.|
We're standing in the exact spot where we girls had posed early on, when you couldn't see a thing behind us
|My pilot dude is fixing the ropes after they got twisted by a side wind.|
Notice I'm looking less excited over there. I'm wondering if this is a good idea...
|And we're almost ready to run!|
It was incredible.
After a flight of close to a very long and leisurely five minutes, we approached the tea plantation with the landing strip, and I noticed a couple and their toddler walking right in the narrow pathway.
“Lift!” the pilot shouted. This was the signal to lift my legs straight forward. The next command was supposed to be, “Run!” But that one never came. We were approaching the narrow path fast, and the family below just kept walking slowly until the pilot shouted, in Indonesian, “Get out of the way!” Or so I assume, at least, judging by how fast they dived off into the tea fields to the right, and we crashed into the tea bushes to the left.
I just laughed and laughed. “You should’ve run, not sit!” the yellow-jacketed-pilot dude said with a smile, pulling me up. (I didn’t succumb to the temptation to tell him that he never told me to run like he said he would, and that I’d have proof since I had my camera rolling all the way.) I just smiled and said, “That was AMAZING!”
And then I photographed Sally coming in for her landing right behind us. Their landing was a smooth one with no obstacles on the strip.
|Sally coming in for a landing|
|Some kids from the local village help to fold all the gear after the jumps|
Sally and I played around in the tea fields, sorry to hear that none of our friends would be able to fly after all. The wind had become too erratic. When our friends pulled up on their bikes some time later, they all assured us that they were OK with only us having flown. Everyone had had a fun day, after all, and they were determined to make the same trip back in a few weeks.
|Sally's pointing out the spot where we flew from|
|... while I am ready to fly again!|
|Marlboro Dog came to check out what the crazy bule girls are doing in his field...|
|When we headed back to the road to be picked up by the rest of the group, I spotted a Land Rover almost like my old TDi|
and decided to take a photo like I've done on some safaris in Kenya...
|The hill from which we flew, from a different angle|
|Some of the traffic passing by. By this time, the traffic had calmed down a LOT!|
|We finally got picked up and then headed straight to Cimory, a famous restaurant in the area|
|More of the sunset|
|By this time, my behind was more than ready to get off the motorbike. Diane (you see only her helmet on the right)|
is an excellent driver, though. I'm glad I got to ride with her. :)
|At Brittney and Leanne's house. Leanne (on the couch) couldn't join us since she had been sick all week.|
You can tell how tired we are of being on motorbikes for such a long trip!
The experience was somewhat akin to when I scuba dive. Though the sound and the touch of the wind on my face was different from the sound of bubbles and cold water on my face, it’s also very similar: It’s the exhilaration of seeing the world from a completely new angle.
It’s about fresh perspective.
And that, I like.