Friday 10 April 2009

25000km to here. 160M to there! Bungeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

It's 6:30 in the morning, another cloudy day in Kathmandu, 2 people have just been woken by their alarm and another is pressing the snooze button for the third time. Finally all 3 are awake and moving. Fully dressed they check that everything is ready and head down to the bikes. The seats glisten with the remains of the night but they are ready to go.

Philip jumps on the back of my bike with a map and acts as navigator. Before long we are flying through the empty city heading out to the open road. It takes only 30 minutes to get from the center of the city into the mountains. After that the road twists its way over 100km to the Last Resort. I'm riding slow today, the roads are cold and my pillion doesn't have a helmet. The road is sweet, a lovely mixture of tight hairpins and sweeping corners with a line of sight to the other side of the world. I'm riding slow but for Philip it is pure adrenaline. We stop for something to eat and a quick calculation makes me realise we wont make the 10am deadline at this rate. So now I go at my natural speed and everything clicks in. Philip is making some pretty strange noises behind me, a mixture of whimpers and whoops.

With only minutes to spare we round a corner and someone throws himself off a bridge, I watch from the corner of my eye as he flaps his arms about in panic. A shudder runs down my spine. Bikes parked and a nervous piss later we are looking out across the bridge chattering nervously about how we are going to jump or what we will say to the camera before the jump.

So it's our turn to cross the bridge for the briefing on the other side. A bridge is a very different thing when you are considering jumping off it. Think about it. A bridge is designed to bring you safely from one side to another but I was about to walk halfway out and throw myself off! That is in no way natural! 160M is also different when you are about to jump it. 160M is exactly 0.1 mile. I have so far traveled 16000 miles. You see my point?

The briefing went as expected. If the bridge breaks it is my fault, if my legs get ripped off it is my fault, if world war thr.... But most of all have fun! Philip and me are put into the second group. We get the pleasure of watching about 30 people jump before us. Watching people jump from a bridge becomes boring after a while but listening to the screams... many were screams of joy but the odd one was of pure terror. A scream that makes your heart stop as it echoes around the canyon and birds take off from trees. A few lads screamed like girls and a few girls (actually most of them) seemed to enjoy it the most.

So now I am on the bridge, I have 10 people in front of me and the real waiting begins. I watch a couple jump, I listen to some and then the jump master yells “75” I look at the back of my hand and there it is in bright red permanent marker. 75Kg and I duck under the barrier and put on a harness. The cameraman shoves the camera into my face and asks me questions. I stutter answers that make little sense and wait as the bungee rope is pulled back up. The view is nice....

The jump master clips the rope to my legs and then... Well what then. Was I scared? I had been up until that point but now there was a feeling of inevitability. I stand up and everything is checked and then I am led to another barrier. I have to duck under it and then I am standing on a meter squared platform with 3 open sides. The cameraman is there on my left and the jump master is holding my harness as I wiggle my way to the lip. I'm still not scared. In fact I feel free like I am already falling. As the jump master starts to count down 3.. I turn to the camera. 2.. I smile. 1... I feel the wind rushing over my face but don't hear it. Eternity passes as my view changes from the mountains surrounding me to the river rushing up to me. I start to scream. Maybe 1 second has passed. I scream with joy and fear. Yeah now I am scared. That rock in the river, the one I seem to be flying directly towards, looks pretty damn sharp and I can't feel the rope. It should be pulling me back up by now. In fact, if it had pulled me back up earlier I would have been happy. Then it whips around and everything is thrown on its head.

The river and the rocks it runs over merge with the vertical canyon walls. Streaks of blue from the sky start to appear. Up is down and down is left. Spinning in all directions and completely lost there is nothing to anchor your brain too. Finally the spinning and bouncing slows and my screams start to quiet down. I am left hanging 50 meters above the river still swaying back and forth. My heart is racing and I feel alive. Drag me back up and throw me off again! Don't stop until the sun sets.

Later, when I finally get lowered back down to mother earth the nervous chatter from before is replaced with excited chatter. Everyone says the same things. How, once they stepped onto the platform, they knew they were going to jump. The moment in the air when you realise there is no going back. Abandoning yourself just to enjoy the moment and finally the exhilaration of knowing you have done something that terrifies you.

Ok, not everyone. Remember I told you about the screams of terror? Well those guys didn't abandon themselves. They held on far too tightly and they saw death. As the ground rushed up to them they forgot about the rope and thought only about the rocks. They screamed from the moment they realised they couldn't turn back and they screamed all the way to the bottom, halfway back up and down again. That jump probably changed them in ways I can't imagine. What's it like to see your own death? I've come close but that's just extreme!

If you get the chance to do a bungee do it! One way or the other it will be a hell of an experience and no-one gets hurt doing it. Every time I watch the video or even think about the feelings I had on the edge a little shudder runs down my spine and a smile cracks across my face. Worth every penny!

Thanks to Phillip as well who was extremely generous and bought the video for me after I decided it was too expensive. Really glad you got it for me even if the whole world now knows I scream like a girl.

sorry, one last pearl of wisdom. There are 3 types of noises you can't blame people for making. Sex noises, Pain noises and Fear noises. You can laugh at them sure but you can't blame them!