I haven’t received many standing ovations in my life. There was the time I came third in the under-8 boys mini tramp competition at Gosford Youth Centre a few decades ago, the day I came second in a pie-eating contest, and that’s about it. Even the ovation I received from impressed onlookers after scoring with a big-titted water nymph after paragliding didn’t really happen – I stole the story from my sexy Brazilian friend Ricardo, who can’t walk down the street without a conga line of super models forming behind him.
So I was shocked but delighted to be met by roaring applause upon returning to my hotel tonight after another hard day of flying. Had I broken a long standing distance record? Had I impressed everyone with my aerial trickery? Maybe they were simply exhibiting belated appreciation of my dancing skills? Nup. I just landed my wing in a fuckin’ tree.
Unusually, it wasn’t a great day of flying. The Hindu Wind Gods must’ve slept in, and by 3 o’clock I was resigned to killing a few Bintangs and listening to the Raiders lose on the wireless. But when the wind did turn up, I was the hill, back to the setting sun and wing slicing through the evening air.
It was a strange flight. There was a wedding going on in one of the hotels below, and if I’d flown any lower I could’ve zipped in and grabbed a canape and the phone number of one of the bridesmaids before scooting off. They decided to release thousands of balloons shortly after I launched, which created a wacky diversion for the crew. At least they didn’t release a whole bunch of doves.
The ride didn’t last long (words the majority of my ex-girlfriends have spoken at some point) and I had to make a run to the beach after half an hour or so. It was a fun end to a brilliant week, and only a clean landing stood between me and a night of drinking icy cold Bintangs
and dancing on tables while Indonesian men threw money at me with my mates. Just aim it at the huuuge patch of sand and we’re sweet.
Yep, I ended up hanging my lovely wing over a bloody bush. It sounds a bit sexy, but it really wasn’t. While I wasn’t hurt, the bush was huge and spiky, and the lines of my glider were as wrapped up in it as a housewife is in the adventures of Ellen DeGeneres and her fellow gay ladies. It was going to take some seriously high-tech actions to get it out.
Enter Hamster and a styrofoam boat he stole off some locals and proceeded to destroy, and Jed with a massive length of bamboo that the locals probably use to beat infidels. As funny as the situation was, the boys really went out of their way to help me, which is just the way the paragliding community works, and I can’t thank them enough for it. Hamster, I owe you a beer or three. Jed, a Cornetto is on its way.
And so, when we turned up at the hotel, late and cut up and tired, the rest of the crew were washed and ready to head out – after letting me known how much they appreciated my efforts to wrap my wing around the biggest bush on the beach. It was embarrassing but also a great laugh, and a funny way to top off a day that showed off what paragliding is really all about – just getting out there and having fun with your mates.
My wing was fine, which was just as well because the next day was to offer something very, very special.