Once upon a time, 2 guys in New Zealand had too much time decided they should come up with something fun to do. So the idea of a human hamster ball was conceived. Zorbing was born. Then they decided it was too fun an activity to keep to themselves and decided to franchise the experience so that people outside of New Zealand can have a dash of insanity in their lives too.
Is it dangerous?
Absolutely. Jackie Chan featured this insane activity in his 1991 movie, Operation Condor, so we can be assured of the unnecessary risk involved. It is a wonder how I managed to come out of that spinning ball of death alive, let alone unscathed.
Vitruvian Man impersonation – FAIL!
Ok, I kid. Zorbing is just about the safest thrill ride ever and it is now available in Singapore. So you don’t have to fly off to some other more fun loving country to live out that mandatory moment of insanity. Singapore has now got one more interesting and crazy thing to do!
I got there a little earlier to check out how the guys operated this huge ball. So there were the guys inflating the 3 metre zorb ball. Ok, it is just slightly more interesting than watching paint dry. At least you see the ball grow from flat to round, firm and bouncy, right?
The giant spheres are intended for 2, so it is recommended to bring along an “unsuspecting victim.” First, the counter-balancing weight from both parties in the sphere makes for a better tumble down the slope. Second, it is great mutual entertainment watching each other’s expressions in the sphere, particularly if both are screamers.
After jumping into the zorb through the little opening on either side, my “unsuspecting victim” and I were strapped against the insides of the ball. We found ourselves at the mercy of the zorb guys as they rolled the ball around with us in it. And the next thing we knew, they went “3… 2… 1…” and pushed us down the slope with all their might.
The sloping field at Old Holland Road is probably the best place Singapore has to offer for zorbing, but even then we needed a fair bit of pushing to get up to speed. So it turned out that the zorb guys’ main job there was to give the balls the extra push from start to finish, and to stop them at the end of the ride, which pretty much explains why they looked so much in shape. Talk about being “on the ball.”
The roll down pretty much feels like being in a spin drier. Both of us were pressed against the inside thanks to the centripetal force created from the rolling. It was pretty cool to see the horizon spinning before my eyes, almost like the view from a cockpit of a fighter jet. And I was having a ball of a time laughing as I watch my “unsuspecting victim” scream her lungs out, occasionally stopping to catch her breath for even more screaming. I liked the soft and cushy feeling as we bounced lightly down the slope.
Countless revolutions later, the zorb guys brought the sphere to a stop for us to get out of the harness. That marked the end of the first part of the ride. Then came the tiringly fun part – bringing the zorb ball back up the slope! I think it is best to just show you this picture…
Yup, we made like hamsters and rolled the zorb ball back up to the top of the slope. Suffice to say, it was a darn tiring and rather disorientating process. Whenever one exerted a little more force to push, it caused the other to trip in the ball. The zorb ball hardly kept in a straight line as we pushed from inside, so the zorb guys were guiding it from the outside as they generously dispensed encouragement to keep us going. It definitely had me think twice about putting hamsters in those hamster balls and exercise wheels.
It was a sigh of relief once we reached the top of the slope and we couldn’t wait to get out of the zorb ball. Thereafter, we needed a brief moment to readjust to walking on the ground thanks to the air-cushioned interior.
How safe is it?
Apart from a possibility of getting a sore throat from screaming, Zorbing is pretty safe. The sphere is made of a strong, high grade plastic which is about a centimetre thick and can withstand the surface abuse that occur during the roll down. No risk of knocking into each other inside since everyone will be strapped in harnesses. Also, the thick cushion of air softens the impact of any knocks and bounces during the ride.
Cool~! What else can I do in the zorb?
Try pouring 3 buckets of water in the zorb and riding it without the harness! Hydro-zorbing likens to being inside a front-loading washing machine. The water allows for the person inside to glide along as the sphere rolls. Unfortunately, interested parties need to bring their own water as there aren’t any public taps around Old Holland Road.
Of course, there is also freeform zorbing or what I like to call the hamster experience where you can mess around in games involving the sphere. Zorb sumo wrestling, maybe?
How much does it cost?
2 rolls down the slope will set you back by $50 per person, $35 if you are below 16 years of age. It is significantly cheaper compared to doing it in other countries. Not mention the manual labour the zorb guys do by pushing the ball from outside. Plus, you get that additional hamster experience, which is quite a fun work out.