6 Asian cities, 6 adrenaline-fueled adventures
In Asia's densely populated cities, office towers and shopping malls trump parks and recreation centers.
Bad news for thrill seekers, right?
Not if you know where to look.
From surf parks deep inside the urban jungle to nature escapes a quick drive from the city center, there's action -- and maybe a few scrapes and bruises -- to be had in Asia's megacities.
Surfing in Bangkok
Flow House is where you’ll find the hip and beautiful on Bangkok weekends.
Open since July, the entertainment venue has a "Double FlowRider," a purpose-built wave machine imported from the United States.
The machine cranks out a perpetual sheet wave that doesn't curl; strong enough to allow for stand-up surfing and body-boarding.
Beginners, brace yourselves. There will be falls and your backside will be tender. But it's worth it.
Instructors are on hand for lessons.
Riders can book hour-long sessions between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, Flow House is open till midnight.
Prices: 550 baht (US$18) per hour, weekdays before 6 p.m. After 6 p.m. and weekends, 650 baht per hour.
Food and drinks are for sale at a simple outdoor barbecue, though management says a restaurant and bar will be opening soon.
A-Square, Sukhumvit Soi 26; +66 (0)2 108 5210; www.flowhousebangkok.com
Skydiving in Singapore
With the 2011 opening of iFly Singapore, home to world's largest skydiving wind tunnel (so they claim), everyone who has ever dreamed of flying can do so; hands-free, parachute-free and fear-free.
Unlike other forms of flying, the S$25 million (US$20.4 million) indoor skydiving wind tunnel allows anyone above the age of three, not pregnant and weighing less than 109 kilograms to take flight in less than an hour.
First comes a pre-flight training session. Once inside the 17-meter-high, five-meter-wide wind tunnel, you're free to hang loose, perform somersaults or strike a yoga pose or two -- all at speeds of up to 300 kph.
Beginner flight packages, inclusive of training and two flight experiences, start from S$89 for adults and S$79 for children.
43 Siloso Beach Walk, Sentosa, +65 6571 0000. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. www.iflysingapore.com
Drift racing in Kuala Lumpur
"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" is arguably the least memorable of the film series that's single-handedly keeping Vin Diesel's acting career alive. But it did help introduce this unusual style of racing to the world.
"Drifting" occurs when a driver intentionally over-steers. The lost traction in the rear wheels causes the car to turn, swerve and slide, while the driver keeps the vehicle under control.
For those who want to give it a go, Malaysian adventure sports company Oxbold runs car drifting experiences in Kuala Lumpur, including lessons and a chance to ride along with a professional race car drifter.
Students learn about the history of drifting and all the tricks that will allow them to perform the auto-sport's funky maneuvers before getting behind the wheel to put their new skills into practice.
Price: 2,990 RM (US$982) for full-day session, from 9 a.m.-5p.m.
Speed City Kuala Lumpur, Selangor Turf Club; +60 (0)19 663 8336; www.oxbold.com
Snowboarding in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has two indoor ski and snowboard outfits. The newest and snazziest is Play, which opened last year in Kwun Tong.
The large warehouse space has two hulking ski slope simulators.
The facility can accommodate 100 guests. A café run by Zambra and a stage with a large sound system make Play party-ready.
Beginners learn to ski or snowboard on a stationary slope, then get on the ski slope simulators. Proficient skiers and boarders can use the indoor slopes to warm up their office-weary muscles in preparation for the real thing. (Elsewhere, of course. Hong Kong doesn't get snow.)
Boots and boards are provided by Play, though experienced skiers can bring their own. Boarders should leave their own boards at home, however, as the dry slopes require boards to be de-waxed.
Play also has indoor batting cages for baseball and softball on its second floor.
For dry slopes on Hong Kong Island, there's Slope Infinity in North Point, the first to bring ski slope simulators to Hong Kong in 2002.
Think of it as learning to ski on fast forward. Coaches at Slope Infinity claim that an hour on their dry slopes is equal to several hours of learning on real mountains. This is because mistakes are amplified when ski and snowboard students learn on a training deck, thus forcing them to perfect their technique much faster.
On actual slopes, soft snow often allows for more mistakes.
Play: KRAS Asia Industrial Building, 79 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong; +852 2342 9830; www.321play.com.hk
Slope Infinity: 1/F, 148 Electric Road, North Point; +852 2107 4567; www.slope8.com
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Zip lining in Tokyo
An hour from central Tokyo, high in a grove of lofty Japanese cedar trees, groups of intrepid thrill seekers spend their days negotiating a suspended maze of ropes, ladders and lines with names like Tibetan Bridge and Tarzan Swing.
It all goes down at Forest Adventure, a French non-profit organization whose blend of tree climbing and zip lining -- riding wires via a harness attached to a pulley -- has taken off worldwide.
With more than 500 locations in France, the company arrived in Japan in 2006 and already has 11 courses across the country. Among them, Forest Adventure Odawara, about an hour southwest of Tokyo, is the most accessible.
Popular with people from nearby U.S. military bases and corporate team builders, as well as thrill-seeking nature-deprived locals, Forest Adventure Odawara gets crowded, so consider arriving early to maximize your zip fun. Price: 3,500 yen (US$42) per adult.
Getting there: One hour from central Tokyo via the Odakyu and JR lines, or Tomei Expressway and Odawara-Atsugi Road. +81 (0) 80 4330 4030; www.forest-aventure.jp
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Rock climbing in Shanghai
Shanghai Stadium’s Rock Climb Sports Center (SSRCSC) is China's biggest indoor rock gym.
Featuring an intricate cave system and an 80-meter-high wall (the total area of the rock wall is nearly 1,200 square meters), one could be forgiven for thinking this rock-climbing center is strictly for Alain Robert, aka the French Spiderman.
But there are more than 100 climbing routes catering to all abilities. This includes a four-meter-high bouldering section covering an area of 240 square meters.
The SSRCSC says all their equipment is imported from Europe and the United States, certified by the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation.
Price: RMB 60 plus deposits for gear rental, which are returned at the end of the session.
Shanghai Stadium’s Rock Climb Sports Center, 2/F, 666 Tianyaoqiao Lu; +86 21 6426 5178; www.rockclimb.cn
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