Updated August 29th, 2018.
About the writers:
Viktoria and Laura spent their teen years together in a small town in Germany. At the end of 2017 they decided to leave their jobs, flats and families behind to become full-time travellers, seek adventures, learn new things and meet inspiring people in beautiful places throughout Asia.
Viktoria and Laura enjoyed The Gravityz Rope Course Challenge free of charge after replying to a newsletter request by South East Asia Backpacker. We often offer the opportunity for travellers to review trips, hostels and activities in Southeast Asia for free in exchange for writing an honest review for our community. If you’d like to get involved, join our mailing list here.
We made our way to the Komtar Mall, only a 15-minute walk from the famous backpacker area in Chinatown, Penang, and instantly realised that the “world’s highest rope course“ is at the very top of the tower that you see from nearly everywhere in Georgetown. It suddenly dawned on us that a building of 238 metres is really, I mean like really really, high! My legs began to shake for the first, but definitely not the last time that day.
After asking around at the base of the building, we found our way to the Gravityz reception on the 6th floor. We were greeted by a friendly member of staff and immediately asked to sign a document, releasing the company from any liability for loss, damage, injury or death which may occur during the activity. Needless to say, our legs began to tremble even more!
Before they allowed us to undertake the activity, we had to confirm that we did not have any injuries, that we were not pregnant, intoxicated, nor did we suffer from vertigo or an extreme fear of heights. We also had to write down our weight… (Rather than guessing, they have weighing scales there, so if you’ve been backpacking without paying attention to your weight like us, you’ll be forced to face up how many kilos of Pad Thai and Chang you now weigh!).
Note: You are only allowed to participate in The Gravityz if you weigh less than 100 kg and are taller than 100cm.
After passing a security check (keep that in mind and don’t bring anything unnecessary) and a 90-second elevator ride up to the 65th floor, we arrived nervously at the entrance.
There’s a full glass walkway surrounding the top of the building and as we moved towards the start of the challenge we were able to glimpse our first amazing view over the island of Penang. Georgetown looks like a miniature model city from up here!
After a short check-in and introduction to our guides, Fikri and Ashari, our valuables were put away safely in a locker and we were told that we should remove everything out of our pockets. We were allowed to take our mobile phones, but we had to place them in waterproof cases and hang them around our necks, which is the reason that our photos came out a bit blurry!
10 Minutes later we were fully equipped with brand new safety gear: straps around our legs and upper body to connect to the safety rope and a helmet, plus a hairnet to wear underneath – you definitely wouldn’t want your hair to fall into your face while you’re balancing out there!
In a tunnel between the reception and the ‘outdoor walk’, the guys fixed us to the safety line and fixed themselves onto a second line, so that they could move freely in front or behind us if needed.
Apart from the question: “Are you scared?” there wasn’t any further explanation, which may have been a little discomforting to some… However, it wasn’t really necessary for us from our point of view. As we both answered “only a little bit”, we think that the guides were confident with our mindset and wanted to make the experience as exciting as possible for us. We suspect that the intro might be a bit longer if there are people who are more scared or concerned.
The first step outside on an iron grid was actually much easier than we thought. There was a nice breeze blowing and the view is just breathtaking! We immediately handed our phone to Ashari to take photos of us in front of miniature Georgetown.
After a few more steps, the first challenge started.
At first, we had thought “walking over an iron grid is easy“. But it wasn’t so easy anymore when the guides ask us to stand on the edge, then to reach one arm and one leg over the edge, fully relying on the safety rope.
After successfully passing the challenge, our legs were shaking again, but still, we were not too scared
The second challenge was sitting on a bench. We know it sounds silly, (why on earth would you pay money to sit on a bench?). But sitting on a bench on top of the highest building in Penang with your feet dangling over the edge, watching matchbox cars passing by underneath you is quite scary!
Ashari gave us a sightseeing tour from the top and while Viktoria really enjoyed it and asked about a hundred questions, Laura was feeling more and more uncomfortable trying to breathe normally and looking off into the distance, anything to stop her from looking… down!
Challenge number three was to walk over a small bridge made of metal hexagons, with about 10 cm gaps in between each step.
It became more challenging when the guides asked us to walk it sideways like a crab, without focusing on the back of your guide, only straight forward into the distance (challenge number four). Viktoria impressed everyone with doing the first ever Moonwalk up there!
The next challenge (five) was pure fun in this breathtaking height: Zipline!
We’ve both done some ziplines before and were a bit disappointed of the short and quite slow ride. But the shape of the building doesn’t allow a longer distance and it still took some courage to not hold on to the safety line. But if you plan to do this adventure just because of the zip line, you might be disappointed.
For the “selfie lovers” out there, you will love challenge number six: a sunbed to lean back and relax after this whole nail-biting. It wasn’t too bad to just lie back at this height, actually, we were really happy to chill a little bit!
At this point, we actually thought that we were done, as the flyer only shows six challenges. But we were wrong.
As The Gravityz only opened half a year ago, the team are constantly expanding the obstacle courses… (The guides shared some of the new ideas with us and all we can say is: stay tuned for more high rope adventures out there!).
So it was the penultimate challenge (unlucky seven) that finally brought both of us to our limit.
Even Viktoria, who was super confident and not scared at all of heights struggled with this one.
At first glance, it looks like the easiest thing in the world: walking up two stairs. But when the second step is just over the edge and you look down 238 m your body will behave in a completely different way than on normal stairs.
One step up was no problem, but when it came to stepping up the second foot, our body’s just continued to disobey. It was like our backfoot was glued to the ground.
Did Viktoria manage to overcome her fear? Watch the video to find out!
After several attempts, demonstrations from Fikri and many encouraging words, we both finally managed to get up there and even balance in the Tree Pose (hey, when else would we get the chance to show off with fancy yoga poses at a height of 238 metres again!).
After this, the final challenge actually felt super easy, but it looks the most badass of all the challenges! The guides asked us to push our bodies out over the edge, with only a tiny part of the soles of our feet directly on the edge, our whole bodies held only by the safety line!
At this point, however, we trusted the guides and the safety gear so much, that we just immediately did it, without even thinking. So it was a really nice ending of this amazing experience, as it showed us, how much confidence we actually earned throughout The Gravityz!
Once back inside, we were surprised, that we had taken over an hour to complete the whole experience. Most people manage the challenge in just 30 minutes, but we were happy that our guides gave us enough time to test our bodies and minds. They didn’t rush through or make us skip challenges, just because we were a little bit scared and needed more attempts.
There’s no way to describe the tranquillity we felt once inside. Though our legs were still a little bit shaky, we had the most relaxed feeling and our minds felt really calm. The only thing we thought was “wow, we really did it”.
Just a few minutes after we said goodbye, we received an email with a certificate for successfully completing “the world’s highest rope course challenge”. We didn’t expect that and we think it’s such a nice idea, having a lasting memory of this amazing course!
In conclusion, we can highly recommend The Gravityz as a must do activity in Penang! It was an incredible experience and we really had to challenge ourselves at times. We had a lot of fun, not only on the course but also joking around with the friendly and funny staff! It could have been a little bit longer, but we know they’re working on more challenges.
The only real disadvantage is the price. When you’re travelling on a backpacker budget, it definitely comes with a high price tag at $75 USD per person, especially for such a short adventure. But if you have spare money and you want to experience something unique, definitely go for it!
Anyone can undertake the challenge! (Height and weight restrictions above apply) The guides even told us that the youngest participant was just 4 years old and the oldest was 83!
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