30th Birthday Celebration
So, turning 30 gave me great reason to stop and reflect while still stumbling my way through beginner’s Yoga in the morning but a 30th birthday also calls for a great celebration… a way to mark the coming of a new decade of life. Why not a little Bungy Jumping?!
We got back from our trek around 5pm the day before my birthday so I started trying to organize things as quickly as possible. I decided to book through my guesthouse due to lack of time, and looked at booking both the Bungy and the Giant Swing on offer. Of course, I wanted Jade to come with and unbelievably for her to just come on the bus with me (oh and take lunch), it cost 16 euros… That may not sound like much, but a bus of equal quality and distance, if not part of this resort costs about 5 dollars… The whole thing was incredibly unprofessional…
I had to walk twice to the agency for the resort itself due to problems with a credit card, they refused to pay for a 1 dollar breakfast despite the fact that I was spending 120 euros, they didn’t seem to know much… it was everything you don’t want from a company that you’re trusting your life with, but still I was committed. So Jade and I awoke at 5:30 to get to the agency at 5:45, as requested and waited with the rest of the jumpers, we didn’t leave until about 6:10… we brought mangoes and other munchies but forgot water.
“Don’t worry” I informed her, “I’m sure they’ll give us water, all the tourist buses do that” (we normally take local buses) … I was wrong… they stopped so that we could buy water at a place that was more than double the price… awesome…
Finally we arrived around 10am, and watched some people that were already there and jumping… it was a long way down. 160m to be exact. That makes it (so they say) the 3rd highest Bungy Jump in the world and the highest Giant Swing in the world. It was great to see that all the equipment was in top working form, the crew that was responsible for the jumping itself was quite professional, and you could really tell that they knew exactly what they were doing… phew!
I could see that Jade was already getting worried for me. I guess I should probably mention that she doesn’t like heights much. I got her to jump off of a two meter cliff into the water in France once and she refused to talk to me for a good hour afterwards…
So we went over for our little briefing…. this is where I found out I had to have ‘real shoes’, (despite the guy on the picture being barefoot), in order to Bungy. When I told him I didn’t have them, he said I couldn’t go… no possibilities, I would have to find shoes…. unbelievable. How had they not mentioned that at the sales office, I’m not sure. I could do two swings, but not one Bungy and one Swing… so I found this Aussi chap who could lend me his shoes while I jumped, then I would send them back up via the bungee cord and he could use them…
Finally it’s time to head out on the bridge, I guess Jade goodbye (she’s not allowed on the bridge), and head out with the other jumpers. Surprisingly at ease. They say don’t look down, but it’s pretty hard not too… Still, I’m quite at ease. The guy from the shop jumps off with the cord for the swing attached to his back, completely unlike what he told us to do… I think that was supposed to serve as our example. Now I must be fair here… the actual ‘jump master’, the guy who makes the decisions was fantastic. The film crew and some of the guys around him were jackasses, but he and some of his employees were great.
A guy comes and puts a helmet on the girl (Rebecca, fellow Canuck) beside me. She’s slightly freaking out. She doesn’t want to go first. Wasn’t sure she remembered what to do. Film crew buddy is about as insensitive as it gets.
“I don’t want to go first”
“You are first”
“Can he go first?” she asks pointing to me (we had already agreed that I would go first)
“You are first”
“She doesn’t want to go first” I jump in.
“It doesn’t get easier” he informs us.
“Can he just please go first??”
“You want to go first?” he asks me.
“Doesn’t matter to me”
Finally he decides to let me go first and I understand why he resisted so much… I mean it took a whole 5 seconds to take the helmet off of her and put it on me. It was literally the only change. Just for extra measure he mentions,
“This helmet doesn’t protect you, it’s just so that the go pro is on your head” as he’s putting it on.
“Okay” I say rolling my eyes, “ugh, thanks”.
He grunts and then turns back to Rebecca, “It doesn’t get any easier” were his final words as he walked away. Before I know it I’m speaking into a camera and then heading out on this little ledge on the bridge. I’m still surprisingly at ease.
“Okay”, the jumpmaster starts, “I’m holding on to you, creep your feet out over the edge and don’t look down.” I look down… still at ease.
“I jump feet first?”
“This is the swing, you jump as far as you can feet first”
“I’m not good at that”
“On the count of three you jump, and you hold on to the rope until the freefall ends” “Okay” I say wondering why I’m not more anxious, “ready”
“Don’t you want to wave to your girlfriend?” he asks motioning over to Jade who’s in the viewing with the camera… I look at the camera,
“3…2…1…” I jump… Unsure exactly how to jump far but still go feet first, I decide to take the middle ground, kind of a one foot hop-skotch type of thing… the way you would jump across a creek… and then I fall…
On the swing, you have about 5-6 seconds of freefall. I promise you that that is enough time to make you think that you screwed up. Holding on to a rope (that is completely slack) for dear life and wondering if it’s a problem that I’m falling back first (not feet first) and have done a 180 I just continue to plummet… surely other people don’t know how to jump feet first, right?!
I finally feel the rope snag… whew, that was quite fun actually. Swinging over the river, good times… the stairs, not so great… coming back up for the Bungy.
Again I find myself on the bridge with Rebecca and surprisingly much more afraid. You would think that the second jump would be easier because you survived the first… not so. The second jump is harder because your body feels like it barely survived the first and it is still kind of in survival mode…
“This time, you have to jump head first” jumpmaster says to me.
“No problem,” I reply, “that I know how to do”
“Look at the camera”
“3…” I hold one finger to Jade so she can get ready for the picture,
“2…” I also hold up two, what are the odds?!
“1…” I hold up three… why do these people count backwards?
Oh well, no time to think about it, dive as far as you can…
The major difference in between the swing and bungee is what you do at the bottom, the bungee is an elastic so you go up and down, the whole time head down and it’s over pretty quick. The swing is a long climbing rope, attached to a cable, so you swing back and forth in a sitting position… I much preferred the swing. For me (and no one else felt this too much), all the blood rushed to my head on the Bungy. It actually really hurt as I hung there (spinning in circles), waiting to be lowered to the people waiting below.
Up the stairs, and all is over. We come back and all the jumpers are all jacked up on adrenaline as we sit down to eat our meal (actually a very good meal)…
There’s this one American/English, born in Botswana raised in Yemen living in Dubai fellow who’s been kind of poking at Jade the whole time..
“You should do it” he started saying on the bus out here… now he just whispers, “do it” in her ear from time to time. When he finds out it’s my birthday he plays a bit on her guilt. “You know he wants you to, look at his face, it would be the best birthday ever”
She ignores him.
She ignores him.
She ignores him.
She ignores him.
You get the point… this goes on, I kid you not, for about 4 or 5 hours. Eventually other people start jumping in and telling her that she won’t regret it.
“You have time, I’ll hold the bus,” Max (that hybrid fellow) mentions, “I’ll pay for you, so it’s not the money”… “it’s only you that is preventing it”
She slightly ignores him. She starts having this look on her face. She was surrounded by probably the most ridiculous display of peer pressure I have ever seen. I tell her a couple of times it’s okay that she doesn’t do it, but how can I be sincere when I think that she should.
“You can go together,” Max informs us, “It’s a tandem, you just have to hold on to him”
Eventually, unbelievably, she consents. She thinks that she’ll change her mind on the bridge, and I can see that she’s hoping that we’re told we don’t have time. But we’re not. Instead we’re told that there’s no discount because tandem doesn’t count as my 3rd jump. You’ve got to be kidding with this money thing guys… We’re surrounded by about 6 or 7 people that are all trying to help us out,
“It’s his birthday” and “It’s his third jump” and stuff. Nothing happening. Eventually Max heads out to the bridge to talk to the jump master and we get a 10% discount. I inform him that I only have 5000 rupees, he says no problem and pays the rest.
Then we’re on the bridge. My heart wasn’t going for my first jump, kind of going for my second, but being out there and feeding off the adrenaline that’s just oozing out of Jade, my heart is really pumping this time. We speak into the camera, she can’t believe she’s doing this, she’s almost speechless.
“You’re going to have to push me,” she says but I don’t know if I can.
“I’ll jump, and you just hold on and come with me”
We’re harnassed in such a way that we have one arm around each other, very romantic way to plummet to your death. We start moving onto the platform.
“Okay,” the jumpmaster starts, “move out so that your toes are over the edge, we’re holding on” I move out immediately, in maybe three or four steps. Jade takes a bit of a different approach, it’s more like 10 to 12 steps, and the jumpmaster actually has to push her feet out a little bit.
“Okay, now when I count to 3 you both jump”
“We both have to jump?” I ask.
“You both have to jump” he responds. Jade doesn’t react, but I can feel her heart racing.
“Just look straight out,” I tell her, ‘don’t look down.” She looks down. I don’t know if she can do this.
“3…” I feel her grip tighten
“2…” I wonder if she’ll stop him
We both step out together.