Some of you might have noticed that bungee jumping wasn’t actually on my original bucket list, but on a recent trip to Phuket in Thailand (more post on this to follow shortly) I happened to see the words “Jungle Bungy Jump” written on a tourist map in the Kathu area. I felt a sudden, massive urge to try it , despite never having fancied bungee jumping previously, and actively telling people I would not ever do it!
I remember mentioning my desire to do the jump to my partner, and he voiced concern over trying it in a country where the safety regulations might not be as stringent as they are in the UK. I did take his comments on board, but decided to find out more, and when I learned that it was under a New Zealand Management team and operates under S.A.N.Z (Standards Association of New Zealand). I felt more reassured. My partner still thought I was crazy, and had no desire to watch me hurl myself from a bungee platform, so I decided to do it after he left on his last day (we were travelling separately, since it was a work trip for him and a pleasure trip for me-I had travelled out there 7 days before he arrived and left a day later).
…My uncle lives in Phuket, so I managed to persuade him to come along for moral support and also to stay with my daughter whilst I jumped. He drove us there, and I was pleased to see that I would be able to jump over a lake, and hoped that I might be able to do a jump where I could touch the water at the bottom of the fall!
There were 4 options, but I decided to opt for the most expensive package for 3,000 Thai Baht (about £60.00 or $90.00) which included 2 jumps, a video recording, Digital Photographs and a T-shirt-so still ‘cheap’ by UK standards! They asked me if I would like to ‘touch’ the water, but said that they couldn’t guarantee that it would only be my hands to get wet, as everyone jumps differently, and some people got their heads or even their chests wet! I said I would like to touch the water, and decided to jump in my bikini in case I got wet.
Of all the experiences I’ve had thus far, I was most nervous about the bungee jump because the thought of trusting a rope (okay a bungee) not to snap when I reached the critical moment was thus far not appealing. I have also suffered with some nasty back and neck problems in the past (whiplash and sports injuries) and I had also been put me off by a friend who had previously jumped and told me she had got blisters on her ankles from the bungee chaffing on her skin… Ah well, caution to the wind as they say… Plus I’d had a full body Thai Massage on the beach earlier that day, and felt wonderful!
The staff weighed me (to ensure they could set the correct tension on the bungee) and insisted on writing my weight on the back of my hand in marker pen (yes, thank you for that-just what every girl wants… Her weight marked on her hand for everyone to read-especially in Thailand where the girls are all shaped like Twiglets and weigh as much as my left leg!)
They wrapped my ankles and lower legs in a foam grip and then tied the bungee cord to my legs so tightly that it felt like my blood circulation was being cut off, then they asked me to hop into the crane lift. They explained that although it’s referred to as bungee jumping, it’s best not to ‘jump’, but rather to put your head back, stretch your arms out to the side and simply ‘fall’ forwards off the platform, then move my hands up into a dive posture as I was about to touch the water. They also recommended not looking out at the view too much if I was nervous because it might make me too nervous to go through with it. PAH! AS IF!
I DID look out, and I DID enjoy the view. I had decided that if I would do a bungee jump, it would have to be somewhere tropical or exotic rather than at home in London (I did look into the costs of doing it at the O2 once before, but decided at the time that IF I ever did change my mind and consider it, the I wanted to do it somewhere a little bit more inspiring).
When we reached the top of the crane, the man asked me to hop to the edge of the platform and get ready. All of my nerves evaporated as I focussed on getting the technique right. There was no way I would ever back out of doing something once I have resolved to do it, so when he said “3-2-1 BUNGEE” I resolved to do exactly as I was instructed without any hesitation.
I have to admit that I felt fine until I reached the tipping point (the point of no return) and then I experienced the fear factor of knowing that I was free-falling towards the ground completely out of control. It was liberating, exhilarating and terrifying all at once; and so much for ‘touching‘ the water too… Haha! I didn’t just get my hands wet, or my head, or just my chest for that matter… No, I went in head first, right the way ‘up’ to my hips!
As I was about to hit the water, I had a realisation that my video might become X-rated unless I reacted quickly, so in the second or so that I was under the water, I managed to grab hold of my bikini top and hold onto it to try and keep my dignity! I just about managed… I think! In retrospect, as a friend pointed out: it’s funny that I was more afraid about the possibility of baring my breasts than I was about the possibility of causing myself an injury!
Here is the video of me jumping (you get to see if once from the bird’s eye view and once from ground level):
Harnessed Catapult Bungee
Afterwards I was offered my second jump free… I assumed it would be the same, but actually, I had the option of doing a Catapult Bungee which I had never even heard of before! I have done the slingshot bungee ball/cage thing with my partner in Paris before, but this was a harnessed bungee catapult experience, so being intrigued I decided to give it a bash. I had watched several other people bungee jumping before me, but none of them had tried the catapult bungee, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect, and did think it might be a lot tamer.
In fact, the best way I can describe it is to imagine tethering a rag doll between the ground and a tight bungee at the top of a crane and then releasing the tension and flinging the rag doll from the ground up…. UH YEAH-THAT WOULD BE ME! Rag dolly Emma, as one of my friends aptly called it when she watched the video! My uncle’s comments did little to reassure me-I asked if anyone had ever hit the crane on the way up (thinking maybe it was unrealistic that I would reach that far… In fact I overshot the crane and felt the fear of God for a split second as I thought I would be wrapped up by the bungee cord like a cotton reel and then unwound again. The experience wasn’t dissimilar for a few moments… But truly exhilarating! …Watching this second video back makes me laugh so much-it looks so surreal and I can’t believe that I felt no pain at all afterwards-seriously I felt nothing-unlike a couple of the other experiences I have under my belt where I did feel it for a few days afterwards (notably Zorbing (neck pain) and wing-walking (a sort of all over aching the next day, like I’d overdone it at the gym)).
So here I am doing my Harnessed Catapult Bungee:
I was asked afterwards which one was better, and I honestly cannot say-they were just very different, though I think possibly there is more scope for injury in the latter as you have the added risk of possibly hitting something on the upward journey as well as the downwards one!
Things to bear in mind:
- Your ankles do feel uncomfortable when jumping and you may get blisters (though I didn’t)
- Girls-If you wear a bikini-you will need fast reflexes unless you also want to be bouncing around more than you bargained for!
- Buy the video-even if it costs more-you will probably only do this once in your life, so it’s nice to have it to look back on.
- Take a towel or a change of clothes if you want to do a ‘water touch’ jump, as you may touch more of the water than you planned (it’s not an exact science).
- There was no minimum age where I jumped, but there was a minimum weight restriction of 35 kgs and a maximum weight restriction of 235 kgs (WOAH I’d like to see someone THAT heavy do a jump!)
- You can do a tandem jump, which I’ve also heard referred to as a lovers leap (Good luck with that though-I doubt I’ll be convincing my own lover to leap with me any time soon! Haha!)