07Jul2010

Zorb Balls and Sky Coasters

Z in lake with zorb (xorb) ball floating besides him. X-Centre, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Thinking of taking the kids to Thailand this year?

One of the huge benefits of the general nervousness right now is the instant availability of fun of all kinds. With close to zero queues.

Over the last couple of weeks, junior and I have enjoyed a championship minigolf course all to ourselves. We’ve had back-to-back goes on rollercoasters at a nearly deserted theme park. And sir has continued his adventures in extreme sports.

Such as zorbing (or xorbing) — pictured above — an activity which has now taken the place of zipwiring in sir’s ever-changingl canon of “most fun ever“.

But what is zorbing?

Wayull…

A zorb ball is a giant, inflatable, hollow ball. Folk roll it to the top of a ramp… Strap you inside it…

Inside the inflatable ball, Z is strapped inside by helpers.

The nerves disappeared the second he was rolling...

Push you off. Whereupon you roll, squealing merrily, if you are nine, or thereabouts, “I LOOOOVE zorbing”, down a hill, and into a lake, where the ball bobs merrily on the surface.

There, if you are nine, you instantly free yourself from your bonds and fall into the water.

Only to be prised away by the promise of paintball target shooting… (Bungy jumping, which the X-Centre also offers, will have to wait.)

Z aims a paintball gun at a target, X Centre, Chiang Mai.

Buddhist principles perhaps not yet fully absorbed...

Championship minigolf?

Yes, there is such a thing. With teams, a governing body, and almost all the regulations of a proper sport.

Now, a championship minigolf course might not have the kitsch factor of those wondrously tacky crazy golf courses which illuminate British seaside resorts from Skegness to Bournemouth.

But, my lord. It is fiendish.

They have bunkers. Greens…

Expanse of green at seventh hole of minigolf course, Chiang Mai.

The seventh hole. On a MINIgolf course.

Tricky inclines. Eighteen holes. Putting stretches that erupt like pimples.

Domed putting surface with cup at centre, minigolf course, Chiang Mai.

Tricker than it might seem.

And, for a theme park that works for all the family and is not too far outside Bangkok, Dreamworld takes some beating.

Riding a rollercoaster, suspended from above.

Sky Coaster, Dreamworld, Bangkok.

Set out near the airport, it’s an absolutely lovely little theme park. Complete with rollercoasters, a flume, rapids, go-karts, bumper cars, bumper boats, cable cars, twisters, every variety of fairground ride, wonders of the world, baby rides — and, bizarrely, an indoor snow zone.

There is little that is obviously Thai about Dreamworld. Apart, perhaps, from this:

Posing for a photo as Superman lifting a tuk-tuk, Dreamworld, Bangkok.

Yep. Definitely in Asia...

Sir’s favourite? The Sky Coaster, a top-loaded rollercoaster, which rattles at quite terrifying speeds round a tight-looped course 40 metres or so above the park. (Space Mountain, a smaller version of the Disney favourite, is also worth a look.)

Mine? Well, probably the Giant’s House, a scaled-up model of a giant’s cottage, with which children can interact at will. It has a sepia lyricism, an eerie beauty, which comes close to the waltzing spectres in the ghostly ballroom at Disneyland Paris.

Z sitting on giant spoon, in scaled up giant's kitchen, Dreamworld, Bangkok.

In the giant's kitchen...

And I was really pleased to see my little adrenalin junkie is still enough of a child to appreciate it to the full.

X-Centre, near Chiang Mai, offers zorbing, paintballing, bungy jumping, dirtbiking and more.

Dreamworld is on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Die hard minigolfers can play atMinigolf Garden Resort, not far from Bo Sang, near Chiang Mai.

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9 Comments

  1. gaz regan says:

    Nice piece, T. My second cousin is in thee middle of buying a resort on Samui. You going there?

    • MummyT says:

      Was thinking about it… Then got to Tao, this morning, to find that one only gets a 15 day visa on a land crossing (was 28 days last two times we were here, but then we flew) and we have already overstayed…. So I think we will be diving, then hotfooting it to Malaysia.

  2. Snap says:

    Hi MummyT

    It looks like you both (he) had a blast. I am putting together a page on my blog, for impending visitors to Thailand, things to do, places to see. Do you mind if I put a link to your post?

  3. melanirae says:

    OMG! That Zorb ball looks like a blast. I want to do it!!

  4. jessiev says:

    WHAT fun! i love the photo of Z sitting on the fork!!!

  5. Katie says:

    I’d love to visit!

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