I always jokingly ask myself, “Why do I love doing things that I’m not so good at?” Singing, dancing and bowling are just a handful of (the many) things I will throw myself into, but with mediocre results. Take bowling. I remember in primary/elementary school when bowling parties were all the rage. Not to be boastful of my 8 year old self, but in my youth, I was actually very good. In fact, I’d often win thanks to my lucky Green 11 ball.
Unfortunately that luck did not transcend to my adult years, much to my horror. I averaged out and became a less than remarkable player. When I moved to Japan to be an English teacher in 2012 for the next two years I was asked the question “What sports do you like?” practically on a daily basis. Upon hearing my answer, “bowling”, I would then have to answer the dreaded question they asked with eager eyes, “High score?”.
Now before I divulge this top secret information, I’d like to beg for no judgment. Though to be fair, it is a score that should be mocked and laughed at. The last time I went bowling I achieved the wonderful score of 57. I wish I was kidding. The worst part of all is when the kids would look confused and ask, “But, why do you like it then?” Woah kid, that cuts deep.
Another of my “things I love but shouldn’t based on my lack of aptitude” is rock climbing.
However, since entering this scary period called adulthood I have only been rock climbing once. So when I spotted a picture of my lovely friend Krystal looking ever so impressive rock climbing here in Taipei, I suggested we organise an afternoon of rockclimbing.
At the Xinyi Sports Center for the low, low cost of $150 ($AU6, $US5, Y150), you can climb to your heart’s desire. (Details after the post).
That’s how I found myself last Wednesday in a room full of thousands of colour rocks, and what seemed like thousands of kids. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect- we happened to pick the day an English school also decided to take their forty or so kids to experience the joys of rock climbing. If you can imagine a relatively small room with super excitable kids running and screaming at the top of their lungs, you can imagine how much we appreciated their presence.
This type of rock climibing is all on you- no belay, no support from a partner, and “free fall”.
Ironically, due to my own inability to climb more than a metre up the wall, my greatest fear of crushing a kid was not realised. Again, I ask you to reserve judgment as it’s actually quite hard to climb up the wall without any assistance, and moreover, without any practice. It requires excellent muscle strength, especially in the upper body, of which I have none.
I was doing so abysmally that for I planned to conveniently crop out any indication that I was only centimetres off the floor at my best in the photographs I will now post. But where is the fun in that? So take a peak at how bad I really am. You can see that the kid to my side is about to overtake me, and you can also see a hint of the floor!
Needless to say it was a real struggle for me, until all the kids left and I could finally have a try at the “easy walls”. I am pretty sure these wall are designed for the sole purpose of allowing people to look more impressive at rock climbing than they actually are. Exactly what I was looking for.
The rocks on the walls are like little “steps” so I am pretty sure anyone, including me, can successfully climb to the top without a struggle. I must admit, it felt really good when I got to the top. It’s a bit a punch to the ego seeing kids climb quickly like spiders up the wall, while your 26 year old self can barely reach above one of those children’s head.
My friends on the other hand, were killing it. Alex, my friend visiting from my old home Oita, Japan,regularly rock climbs. He was scathing up the walls, hanging off one arm like a handsome monkey. He even had a little crowd of people looking at him in awe.
This was only Krystal’s fifth visit, so I think she must be a natural talent as she is very skilled! She is setting herself the challenge of climbing up the particularly taxing wall, and I’m sure she’ll be on it in no time.
According to Krystal, there is usually only a handful of people rock climbing, so you can rest assured if you go that it will be a relatively peaceful experience!
I really recommend visiting this very affordable rock climbing venue if you’re looking for something a bit out of the usual mix of things to do in Taipei. Rock climbing is a surprisingly amazing work out- after nearly two hours we were all sweaty and exhausted, but still on a high from the thrill of climbing.
After that day, I though about why exactly I do like to do things I’m not good at. I guess it’s an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, let my guard down, have a laugh at my own expense and try to overcome a challenge.
One day wall, I will beat you!
Place: Xinyi Sports Center
Location: No. 100號, Songqin Street, Xinyi District, Taipei City, 110
Cost: $150 all day
Hours: 2-5pm & 6-10pm everyday
Nearest MRT: Walking distance from Xiangshan MRT, but Taipei 101 is also very close.
What to do: Go to the reception located on ground floor and ask for a rock climbing ticket. Walk across to the adjoining building to your right and proceed to Level 7 in the elevator.
Insiders tip: You can use the shoes on loan for free, but I would suggest simply going barefoot in lieu of owning proper rock climbing shoes as the shoes are quite old and not suitable. Remember to use the chalk to keep your hands from getting sweaty and to add some grip.