Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Paragliding in Danyang

A couple weekends ago, I traveled to Danyang, a city about 35 minutes away from Jecheon, with my friend Megan.  I have visited Seoul numerous times now, so Megan decided to make the trip to Jecheon to see my life outside of Seoul.  Megan and I decided to go paragliding because I had a group of friends go recently and it sounded amazing.  If you know me well, you won't be surprised that I wanted to do this because I'm always up for anything that involves a thrill (roller coasters, skydiving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, etc).

What we thought was going to be a nice, relaxing day turned into quite the ordeal...

Once we took a bus to Danyang, I had to go to an ATM because the paragliding was cash-only.  Well, the ATM wouldn't allow me to take cash out because I entered the wrong pin number too many times.  Luckily, Megan was nice enough to pay for me (thanks, girl!).  We then had to take a taxi to the bottom of the paragliding mountain, and then we were picked up by the company van which took us to the top.  At the top of the mountain was a shack covered with plexi-glass and a huge blue tarp.  My first reaction was, "What the hell is this?", because this cannot be the paragliding place.  I definitely thought it would look a bit more professional, but it wasn't...(picture is below)

To make up for the appearance of the shack was the beautiful view from the top of the mountain.  We went when the leaves were still beautiful shades of orange, yellow, red and green.  Along with the river that runs through Danyang, it was a very picturesque sight!

After paying, we had to suit up for our big flight.  We each had a paragliding professional with us that suited up us with shin guards, a helmet, gloves, and a backpack thing that pops into a seat once you're in flight.  Once we were suited up, it started to rain.  Go figure.  The one day we picked to go because the forecast predicted clear, warm(ish) weather, it rains.  We didn't have anything better to do than to go sit in the shack and hang out with the paragliding staff (which consisted of a few men in their 50s and a couple other random people).  This unexpected lull in our plans turned into a karaoke party!  Koreans love karaoke and have businesses called "Norae-bongs" that you can rent rooms and just sing karaoke.  So while it was raining outside, all of us in the paragliding shack were singing karaoke.  Megan was given the microphone and she asked my advice on what song to sing.  The only song I knew that I knew would definitely be a hit with everyone was "Dancing Queen" by Abba.  So here we were hanging out at the top of a mountain, in a shack, with a bunch of Koreans, singing karoake... It was so random, but so much fun!

45 minutes later...

It eventually quit raining, and we were again cleared to take the leap.  Once again, we put on all of the necessary equipment and then had to wait about 10 minutes for the wind to blow the right direction.  In order to take off, you have to sprint down the cliff (with the professional attached to you, of course!) until the parachute catches enough wind to lift you up.  Some people that went before us had to take off 2 or 3 times because their initial sprint wasn't good enough.  I must've been good enough, because I ran down the cliff with no hesitations and was soon seated into my make-shift seat/backpack enjoying the ride.  It was simply amazing!! The professional steers the parachute, but at one point he left me grab the reigns and steer.  He also did some tricks like tipping us sideways and such.  I figured I could trust him because he said he had been paragliding for 17 years (with only 1 accident on his track record..).  We were in flight for about 12 minutes or so.  The landing was surprisingly smooth.  I had to put my legs directly straight out in front of me and land on my butt.  It really was an amazing time and I already want to do it again!  (There's a video of the landing below)

The sketchy shack that is the home of the paragliding business.

View from the top of the cliff

Just after we landed!  We started at the top of the mountain in the background.

The Landing

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