Friday, November 4, 2011

One Thousand Meters Up

I thought I would add a short post of my own to describe my paragliding experience in Puli. We were told that the first person of our group to go should be one of the lightest because the thermals would only just be kicking up and hence if you have too much weight then you will end up at the bottom of the mountain needing to be picked up and driven back up the hill.

The second person to go should be one of the biggest because if the sun is out then the thermals will quickly pick up and you actually want your total weight (instructor and passenger) to be as heavier. I qualified as the candidate for this task and so was second of our group to take to the skies. I’m not sure if Yuri (our instructor) is permanently elated when he is in the sky, but he suggested that the conditions were perfect and that we were very lucky. At one point an altitude meter that beeped at different rates depending on the speed of your ascent sounded like the electrocardiogram of a rabbit while mating. Yuri told me that we were climbing at more than 3 meters/second and he was very excited about this.

At our highest we were more than 1,600 meters above sea level and just over 1,000 meters above where we had launched. Upon reaching our zenith we were amongst the “solos”, as Yuri called them, and there was only one para-glider in the sky higher than us.

On our way back down Yuri asked if I wanted to try going into a descending spin as I could see other para-gliders performing. Naturally I answered with the affirmative. The g-forces on the way down were incredible and I very much imagined my face to look like that of a dog with its head out of a car window covered in slobber that is spraying into the wind. I sincerely hope I didn’t slobber on Yuri!

We shot long on our first landing attempt and so had to circle around and gain back some altitude, but then we successfully landed on our second attempt.

It was an amazing amazing experience and I can definitely see myself return again while we are in Taiwan.

Amanda took this picture of me during my climb. Yuri and I were in the yellow-green-chute.

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