Monday, May 1, 2017

Paragliding in Taiwan - Wanli District (萬里區) - Mustang Paragliding Club (野馬飛行傘俱樂部) [Travel in Taiwan 170430: Sky Rangers]

Do you want to fly? From the Wright Brothers to Amelia Earhart, humans have tried to soar like an eagle in the sky during the early part of the 20th century. Many have failed but a few have found success. Flapping fake wings is not enough to give you a lift. Not even a single Helium-filled balloon that you can buy in a park can bring you to the heavens. In this modern age of touchscreen phones and selfies, there is a faster and easier way to fly. You don't even have to board an airplane and jump off from its doors at a very high altitude. Just go to Wanli District, wear your harness and let a glider swept you off your feet.

Paragliding. Have you tried this extreme sport? If you are a daredevil or someone who loves to take risks then this adventure is for you. Forget your acrophobia because once the safety belt had been wrapped tightly into your body and your harness gets attached to the parachute, the wind will take you to greater heights. You will forget that you have a fear of heights once you are up in the air!

So where to go in Taiwan to do paragliding? There are many places to this activity. You can have it New Taipei, Yilan or in Nantou. I chose the one which is closest to Taipei City and it is in Wanli District of New Taipei City. Mustang Paragliding Club will provide the service you are looking for. They are a group of professional paragliding pilots who takes off from a cliff whenever the conditions are right for flying.

You can contact them through their Facebook page:野馬飛行傘俱樂部-Mustang-Paragliding-Club-244391195586147/. There is no need to reserve a slot and you just have to come to Wanli Elementary School via Bus 1815 (Jinshan Youth Activity Center route) from Taipei City Hall Station or Bus 862 from Keelung Station to start your adventure. Once you are there, send a text message to their messenger account and a van will come and pick you up. A vehicle will soon stop in front of the Wanli Bridge bus stop. Representatives from Mustang Paragliding might not be able to speak in English and you just need to open your arms sideways to act like that you are a flying once you see someone from a van looks at the waiting shed and started asking people sitting at the bus stop.

The reigning and defending Travel Buddy of the Year joined me in this adventure. Teklu wanted to achieve greater heights on his experiences in Taiwan literally and figuratively. He was so excited to fly that he was a given a strawberry helmet. Large red circles decorate his head protection with green leaves on top. Facing sideways with an open glider at his back, he looked like a US soldier that was sent to North Korea to fight the forces of Kim Jong-un only that he wore a fruit-inspired head gear. Haha!

I too wore a head helmet and it has the tri-color stripes of France. “Bon voyage!”, I said to myself as the harness was being fastened into my body. Teklu and I paid first NTD 1,600 to the owner before we were given our flight gears. A card was also given to both of us which served as our boarding pass. We need to present this card to the pilots to be able to fly. 

Big bags containing the parachutes or the so-called glider were spread in the runway and I got excited as it was opened one by one. A GoPro Hero 3 on a selfie stick was also given to us as a part of the payment and it would record my flight experience. After landing on Wanli Beach, the micro SD card would be given to us as our souvenir. “Do you have any final words to say?”, Teklu approached me while holding his selfie stick teasing me as if we were going to die. “Teklu can you check if our harness is tightly fastened”, I replied. Lol

And then it was my turn to fly. The risers or the strings that connect the glider to my harness was hooked to my seat through its carabiner. “Don’t sit, don’t jump”, said by my pilot. A helper made sure that my harness was tightly fastened. Other helpers of Mustang Paragliding helped raised the glider until air starts to inflate its cells. “Ok run, running, running”, said by my pilot. I tried to run but it happened so fast that I suddenly felt that my feet were no longer touching the ground. Yehey!

Somehow during the flight, I realized that Mustang Paragliding forgot to give concrete instructions on what to do during takeoff, while flying and before landing. I attribute it to language barrier. Before the takeoff, I was told not to sit nor jump. I followed the instructions but when I was already flying, I should have tried to position myself to sit on the seat and at the end of the flight before landing I should have let my butt slide at the seat to change into a standing position. The moment of landing was also crucial. I did not want my knees to absorb the shock of touching the sand so I just let my legs stretched in the air like I was going to sit on the ground. My pilot was a bit rude during this maneuvers and he was like having a menstruation. Haha!

But it was a thrilling flight and I will always remember that in my dreams. Seeing your Travel Buddy fly like a cockroach added joy to my heart. lol. He flew from left to right in a straight line soaring above the Wanli Beach. Haha! 

The paragliding activity might be expensive but the experience was priceless. It was so much fun and I'm thinking to do it again! Who wants to join? Dream high and fly to the sky. Be part of the next batch of the sky rangers.

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