Does ziplining at the height of 239 meters sound appealing to you? Are you looking for new ways to conquer your fear of heights? Or perhaps you’ve always wondered what it feels like to work as a high-rise window cleaner? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there’s no better way to satisfy your need for adventure than to try out Penang’s newest attraction: The Gravityz.
Located on the 65th floor of Komtar Penang, The Gravityz is currently the world’s highest ropes course challenge and is also dubbed as one of the best high-altitude sports in Southeast Asia. It was the brainchild of two rock-climbing instructors, one of whom was the founder of Madmonkeyz Climbing Gym in Kuala Lumpur (where I tried wall-climbing for the first time).
How Much Does It Cost?
The ticket prices may vary according to season. Generally, the earlier you book, the cheaper it will be, but do expect an increase in price during the holidays. Their operation hours are from 12 pm – 8 pm (on weekdays) and 12 pm – 9 pm (on weekends), with one session per hour, and each of these sessions may sometimes have different rates. It tends to get more expensive towards the evening as the temperature drops and participants get to watch sunset plus a night view of the city.
When I went in February 2018, it cost me RM130 for a 6 pm slot (Malaysians get 30% discount off the normal rate, while Penangites get 55%). Apparently, if I had chosen the one at 3 pm, it would have been half the price, but I wasn’t aware of this when I made the booking.
How to Book the Tickets
Booking can be done online, or on the spot at the ticket counter, but since they can only accommodate up to 6 people per session, it is advisable to book in advance. Besides, you might be able to get cheaper rates if you book early. Visit their website for online booking.
Or check out Klook for further discounts. I’ve seen tickets for The Gravityz go as low as RM45 per person! If only I knew about this last year.
Is It Safe?
The Gravityz uses Swiss and Italian-made safety equipment that has been certified safe by the European Union and TUV. Each participant will wear a helmet, and a full-body harness that will be hooked to the overhead safety line at all times. The harness can support up to 200 kg of body weight.
There will be at least one instructor accompanying you on the ropes course challenge to provide guidance and assistance. These instructors have gone through all the necessary safety and first-aid training. For good measure, there is also a full-time medical team on standby. But as with any outdoor activities, there are risks involved, which is why you have to sign an indemnity form before you can proceed.
For safety reasons, participants need to be taller than 100 cm, weigh less than 100 kg, and wear proper sports attire. If you wish to bring action cameras or GoPro, make sure they are strapped on securely. Phones are also allowed as long as you keep them in phone pouches (the transparent, waterproof kind that you can hang around your neck).
What to Expect
The Komtar building is easy enough to get to. Most buses stop there, plus you can practically see the tower from anywhere in Georgetown. However, finding The Gravityz was a bit tricky for me, but this was probably because I went so soon after it was launched. Not many people had heard of it yet.
If you’re having the same trouble, just ask someone how to get to the 6th floor, as this is where the ticketing counter is. Once you get there, show your booking confirmation. You will be given a wrist tag and an indemnity form to sign. After that, one of their crew members will escort you to the 65th floor. You will be led to a room to watch a short video about Komtar — its history and how it has progressed. Then the curtain will be drawn and you will be rewarded with an amazing view of the city and the sea.
Next, you will go to the observation deck. There is a glass-floored section where you can watch the city go by 239 meters underneath your feet. Consider it a warm-up for what’s to come. If you have friends who want to tag along but do not wish to participate in the ropes course challenge, they can still come up and watch you from here. The entrance fee to the observation deck is RM40 per person.
What Happens If It Rains
On the day of my scheduled session, I arrived at 5.30 pm, all ready and excited to begin my adventure. I was joined by a family of four from Singapore. Unfortunately, when we were all strapped up in our gear, it started to rain. HEAVILY.
There was no way they would allow us to go through with the activity even if we wanted to. We waited for 15 minutes but the rain showed no sign of stopping. So, we had no choice but to reschedule. Since that was already the last session of the day and they didn’t operate at night (not until recently, that is), the earliest session we could switch to was the next day.
The Gravityz practices a no-refund policy, so if a session is canceled due to bad weather, you can either postpone it to a later date/time or forfeit your payment. I was lucky because I had no fixed schedule the next day, but I don’t know what happened to the Singaporeans. I heard they were flying home in the morning. So if you want to do this ropes course challenge, make sure you don’t leave it till your last day in Penang!
The Gravityz Ropes Course
The next day, I came back for the 11 am session. I was joined by yet another family of four — this one from mainland Penang — a father with two daughters and one son. The mother chose to sit it out.
As a solo traveler, I always need to be prepared to be the third or fifth wheel in a group activity. If I’m lucky, I might come across other solo travelers who are equally eager to make new friends. Otherwise, I end up having to crash people’s private parties. Fortunately, these four were cool with having me in their family photos.
Included in the fee was a red T-shirt that we had to wear during the activity. Now with all of us wearing identical uniforms, we really did look like a group of window cleaners ready to start our shift.
Before we began, one of the instructors gave us a safety briefing. We learned how to hook and unhook our harnesses to the saferoller, and what to do if the cables broke or if the ledge collapsed under our weight.
Anyway, the mechanism is similar to ziplining. So if you’ve done that before, you’d be familiar with the equipment involved. There are 6 obstacles in the ropes course challenge, with a few emergency exits a.k.a. chicken doors along the way. At any time if you feel that you can’t continue, you can chicken out through one of the exits (but you won’t be allowed to try again).
The 6 Obstacles
1. Confidence Path
The first part of the challenge is a narrow iron-grid walkway with handrails to give you a confidence boost. As you step onto the ledge that is less than a meter wide, the first thing you will feel is the breeze coming at you from all sides. You will hear the muted sounds of traffic from down below.
If you look down (don’t!), you can see the city scene unfolding from between the iron grids. You can feel the vibration underneath your feet every time the other people in your group move. The easiest way to make them hate you is by jumping up and down on this ledge. If you’re feeling brave, you can try standing on the edge with one foot in the air.
2. High Bench
3. The Great Bridge
How crazy is it that, had we been walking on the ground, we could easily have weaved our way through much narrower spaces than that, but when we were up there, it felt like we were walking on a tightrope? Or rather, like a toddler who had just learned to balance himself on his feet.
The fourth obstacle is not really an obstacle unless you have bad knees that make sitting down difficult. Because that’s exactly what you have to do: sit down. But with your legs dangling down the platform. I think the ‘X’ in ‘X-Point” means ‘stop’. You stop here for a few minutes to take a breather before the next stunt. It’s also a good time to take photos of your feet to impress your friends.
This second last obstacle was the one I was most nervous about. I have trust issues. I trust my own legs more than I trust a thin cable. The Z-Wire is probably the shortest zipline in the world, but it’s also the highest. You’ll be hanging from a cable with nothing under your feet but a 239-meter deep abyss.
The last challenge is a series of tests to see how much courage you have gained from the previous activities. It’s your final exam before ‘graduating’ from the course. The first test is a reclining chair with the top half jutting out of the walkway.
The second test consists of two raised platforms for you to stand on. It’s funny to think that these things were all designed to scare the shit out of you, and yet you’d still pay good money for it. What a crazy species we have become.
And finally, in the last challenge, we had to stand with half of our feet off the edge of the walkway and lean backward, a la abseiling. The only thing keeping us from an untimely death was again that thin cable attached to our harnesses. You can choose the length of the cable for this activity. The longer it is, the further back you can go. I was fine with the shortest one.
Once everybody was done, we took one last group photo. I was glad to have met them. The father was the coolest — he came up with all sorts of silly and daring poses up there. From inside, people were watching and waving at this crazy bunch.
Although I had a fear of heights (still do), I found that I was not as scared as I should have been. I think this was because the two other girls were more freaked out than I was. That gave me a much-needed ego boost. So, I guess it’s true what they say — fear is only a product of your mind. If I had been the only acrophobic person in a group of daredevils, my fear would have multiplied and I would have shrunk further into my shell. And this post would never have been written.
So, I think I have found the perfect solution for conquering my fears: next time I want to try something scary, I must remember to bring a wimpy friend along.
Book now to get tickets to The Gravityz for as low as RM73 per person!
Or check out the other available tours in Penang: