Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 141 - Bungeeeeeeeee

Today was the big day. After a week-long wait in anticipation of taking a jump off a bridge while connected to a rope, the day had finally come! We woke up at around 4:30am to walk to Thamel to catch our bus ride to the Bhote Koshi River Gorge, near the Tibet/Nepal border. I was actually surprised that I wasn't thinking too much about the jump during the 2.5 hour minibus ride. Half the time, I was trying to fall asleep without a headrest, and the other half was spent admiring the wonderful scenery as we made our way through the mountains to the resort. The skies were much clearer recently, and it was quite a sight to see the villages in the mountains, with the icy Himalayan Mountains further away, and the clouds floating below.

We arrived at the Last Resort earlier than anticipated, and immediately, we had to cross a bridge to get to the resort, giving us a glimpse of our jump-off point, as well as the gorge we'd be falling into... I already had a hard time crossing bridges in general as I am afraid of heights, and this was especially difficult. I held on to the hand rail for dear life, refusing to look down until I made it to the other side.

We waited around the resort for a good 2 hours before finally being briefed about the safety and procedures to follow while plunging into a gorge... During those two hours, I was able to catch some other jumpers from the viewing area, which made things a little less scary, knowing other people were able to do it successfully.

We had quite a large group - around 50 people who were there to take the plunge. They told us that they would separate us into three groups, depending on how much we weighed. The heavier people would go first,  and the lightest people would go last. Each person had to jump on a scale while the employees yelled out our weight, and also writing it on the back of our hands... Some of the girls made sure they took off their shoes before getting on the scale to get a more "accurate" weighing. I ended up at 64 kg, the heaviest in the 3rd group. I weighed less than most of the European guys, but more than some Israelis and Nepalese...

The employees told us a couple of helpful hints - 1) Jump off the platform, don't just step off of it, or else the rebound will be less comfortable. It's called Bungee "Jumping" and not Bungee "Falling" and 2) When you walk across the bridge, leave your brain at the resort or else you'll have a difficult time jumping.

The waiting game took forever! I don't know if it made it better or worse. Half the time, I felt more at ease, watching everyone take their turn, but then I also felt more and more anxious just to get it over with! It was fun to see how everyone jumped, and I jokingly rated each jump as if they were all divers. I was thinking how hard it was to actually gain enough energy in your legs to actually "jump" off the platform when your brain is telling you not to do it. Some people stepped off, some people fell/leaned off, and some people jumped perfectly with their hands spread out like they were flying.

Aki was in the first group, and he actually volunteered to go first just to get it over with. Niels was in the second group, and he was also the first to jump off in his group. They said it was better to just get it over with before you psyched yourself out... but then again, I think once you are on the bridge, you would most likely jump off instead of facing the humiliation of quitting... But they were right...imagine being the last person in your group to jump, standing on the bridge the entire time while the wind blew, seeing the fear in everyone else's faces before they took the plunge.

My group had to eat lunch before jumping because it was getting late in the afternoon, so we'd be jumping on full stomachs, or stomachs with whatever food we could manage to eat while in fear and anticipation. I ate, and laid on a couch, thinking about death for a little. You can't really help it. It was scary, but if I were to die because the ropes snapped, then it was meant to happen maybe? But everyone else survived so far, so chances were I would survive :)

The time finally came when our group was called to walk across the bridge. I wanted to also be first in my group, so I walked there first, a little more confident than the first time I walked across the bridge... The wind was blowing, which made things worse, but I didn't have a problem looking down at what I was jumping towards for some reason. I guess I knew it had to happen, so I wouldn't avoid looking at it. I managed to strike up a conversation with a German girl and we chatted a little about the mundane things people talk about when they first meet... It was very effective at taking my mind off the task at hand.

I was called up first to jump, and they strapped me up with ankle straps and torso straps - double protection! While all of this was happening, a cameraman was recording my fearful face and asking me how I felt. I could only say a couple of things because talking to the camera was the LAST thing I wanted to do before jumping off a platform... Once everything was set up, I slowly walked to the platform while another employee held me back, calming me down before counting down from three to one...

I didn't even think about how I would jump, whether my execution would be a "10" or not...  But I put my hands out to my sides, and took the jump, flying down to the river and it was the most incredible feeling! I really did feel like a bird, soaring through the valley. I kept my eyes open the whole time while give a couple loud yells of excitement and relief. There was a short moment when my stomach felt funny from the fall, but it went away quickly, and I don't remember feeling that same funny feeling even when I got some airtime during the rebounds...

Afterwards, I was lowered to the bottom of the river, where I was laid on a bed to get the blood circulating through my body again. It was an incredible feeling climbing back up to the resort with all that adrenaline rushing through my body. There was just so much happiness that I felt after jumping, and I would DEFINITELY do it again!

Bungee Viewpoint


No comments:

Post a Comment