Assignment 4.2 Overcoming rope swing phobia in Luang Prubang

A Facebook wall-post is used for many things. To share greetings, pictures, information, or even a distinct memory. I received a post the other day that triggered a memory I’d buried away years ago in hopes of forgetting: ” Hey Amanda, I was just telling someone the story  about the time you fell off the rope swing. LOL”

I sat, staring at the post.  Damn. It has been 6 years and people are still “LOL-ing” about my tumble-down a cliff and into the water at my hometown lake, Berryessa.  A long day in the sun and a loose grip on the swing led me to fall and roll down the side of a rocky cliff and onto the shore.  My friends stared in disbelief as I flopped my scratched and burned body into the murky water.

This incident provided a great conversation topic at school come Monday and apparently still serves its purpose as one today.

I know I will never live this down in the eyes of my peers but I have conquered my fear of the rope swing thanks to my bravery and determination at the Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prubang, Laos.

Kuang Si rope swing

I arrived at the waterfall with a group of 5 others on a tour I found in the Old Quarter of Luang Prubang. Once I weaved my way through trees and across the path to the crystal blue, pools of water and feasted my eyes on the rope swing, I knew right away that this was the place to over come my fear.

The oasis  is something close to what I picture of heaven.  Cascading waterfalls, clear blue water, and green, lush, trees. It looks like the playground of angels and fairies. There’s no way I’d fall off a rope swing in heaven.

After taking a dip in the cool, brisk water, I watched from the shore as others climbed their way to the rope swing, grabbed a hold and swung into the water. The approving audience, clapped and cheered as person after person flew through the air with ease.

Soon enough, I mustered up the confidence to give it a go. As I carefully maneuvered my feet around sharp rocks, slippery algae and tree roots, I found myself standing on the thick branch which acts as a bridge over the water. Here I am, legs shaking from nerves and an audience of strangers awaiting my big moment. I am happy to be standing in front of strangers and not my pals back home.

slowly making my way to the rope swing

I began to crab walk slowly on the wet branch, using the wooden steps nailed to the tree to prevent myself from slipping into the water. Once I reached the swing, I knew I was fully committed.

It was in this moment where I went over the steps of rope swing success:

1. Test the rope

As I grabbed a hold of the rope, I gave it a tug to make sure it was sturdy and secure enough to hold my weight.  Then, I looked up and inspected the branch, it wasn’t going to snap.

2. Estimate the best place to land in the water

We’ve all heard of people landing on rocks and breaking limbs. I located possible hazards in the water (rocks, shallow spots, swimming people) and calculated which way I’d have to swing to avoid them.

3. Grab tight and HOLD ON!

I tightened my grip on the rope and tensed up my arms, in order to hold my weight as I kicked out away from the tree. As I flew through the air a kick of adrenaline rushed over me. I was doing it!

4. Release before you begin to swing backwards

After having watched many people hold on for too long and swing back into the tree, I knew I ‘d need to release sooner than later.  I let go right as I reached the rope swing’s full extension.

5. Watch your landing

Since I am no professional rope swinger, I knew I had no reason to get fancy.  I dropped my arms to my sides, straightened my back and slightly folded my knees to ready myself for impact.  As I splashed into the cool water, I knew I had taken a rather conservative yet safe, landing.

I stayed under water long enough to fist pump and comprehend my accomplishment before rising to the surface. Playing it cool, I swam to the shore and perched myself on a rock, waiting for my legs to stop shaking from excitement.


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