The One with the Bungy

When a control freak manages to sum up enough guts to fall of a 50-meter bungy jump, the result is a 3-minute video that consists of a string of profanities not fit for public consumption (and yes, the same video your friends blackmail you with.)

Still in our work-related trip in Bangkok, we already decided to head off to Southern Thailand for some well-deserved R&R. We didn’t want to just soak at the beaches of Phuket, so when we found out we can do a bungy jump, we booked one as soon as we arrived.

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There are dozens of tour operators lining the streets of Patong Beach in Phuket offering various activities, one is bungy jumping. There are two licensed bungy jump operators in Phuket. One says it’s the tallest one in Thailand at 60-meters high (Australia-licensed). And the other one says they are the original and the only fully licensed one in operation (New Zealand-licensed). They said New Zealand-licensed operators are better but naturally, adrenaline junkies that we are, wanted to try the tallest one. However, one call from the tour operator said they were closed the next day. So we booked the Jungle Bungy Phuket at 50-meters high (164 feet). After securing the tour, we got the “you’re crazy” expression from the tour operator, she said she’s lived in Phuket all her life but hasn’t and will never try bungy jumping.

A car picked us up at 8 am the next day and took us about 15 minutes to get to the venue. Yes, it was the longest 15-minute ride of my life. We arrived at the venue just as some jumpers were leaving so we had the whole place to ourselves. I didn’t know if I would feel grateful (the less audience to see me jump, the better) or worried (the less audience, the fewer witnesses in case something happens!)

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It was a great and clear day to jump (or die trying!). My two friends jumped first and it was all a blur for me while I alternately tried to take photos and videos of them and laughed while watching them scream. Then generally got freaked out by the thought that I couldn’t delay it much longer, I was already there, I’ve already paid (“no refund”, the big sign glaring at me says so) and I was going to have to jump.

The New Zealand jumpmaster’s only reminder was, “It’s bungy jump, but don’t jump. Just simply walk to the edge and fall.” Right.

When it was my turn, I was herded off shoe-less by a Thai jumpmaster and was weighed. He looked at me funnily while writing 43 (kg) at the back of my right hand. Either he couldn’t believe I only weighed 43 kgs and this might somehow affect my jump or I was just too nervous and got suspicious of everyone else. I didn’t realize then that the funny look he gave me was just physics since he was thinking the lighter the person is, the crazy the fall would be (thanks mate!). Then I was roped and secured and guided as we went up.

As I was going up, I’ve never remembered being so scared witless ever in my life.  I tried to chat the whole time with the jumpmaster just to be distracted including asking him about hiking in Phuket, how deep is the water, and are there snakes in the water? (not possible; quite deep; yes).

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Why do you want to live on the edge when you can jump off? Carpe Diem.

The clang of the metal that signaled I was already on top felt ominous to my ears. The  jumpmaster reminded me one last time to not look down and then guided me towards the edge of the platform. By this time my mind was already in a frenzy, I could barely hear my friends’ catcalls from below. I raised my hands and heard “3..2..1..bungy!!!” And… I.. could’t.. let… go!! I even cried “No!”.

After a few more seconds, I finally did let go and letting go was the hardest thing I had to will my mind to do ever in my life. I wished I could say that while I did (where anything can happen) I would have profound thoughts on life, purpose, meaning but all I felt was “ARGGGHH..” like a punch in the stomach and then a string of profanities that followed as I was free-falling like a pendulum, the wind roaring in my ears and my heart bursting. It was one heck of a rush as I dangled and swung several times. It lasted only seconds but it felt like an entire lifetime by the time they pulled me in.

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The certificate they provided had words like: “courage”, “elite thrill seekers”, “adventure of a lifetime” printed on it. Up to now, I still don’t know where I got to muster enough of the first one. But what I do know is that I would just might be crazy enough to do it again.

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