There are just some things I simply refuse to do (or so I thought). Yep, you guessed it, bungee or bungy jumping has always been one of them. But I decided that my birthday gift to myself is to do something that is completely out of my comfort zone, I am making a point to face that fear every year. So I thought that Bungee Jumping in Nepal will make for a wonderful birthday memory. You think I’m nuts? Yeah, me too.
It just so happens that last month which is April 2017, a young woman on holiday in Bolivia has miraculously survived after she plunged 15m into the shallows of a riverbed when her bungee jump rope failed to brake and retract.
Sure, it did cross my mind that the same thing could happen to me. But it didn’t stop me. I just had to have faith that the cord wouldn’t snap and send me plunging towards the fast flowing rapids below. I have a fear of heights and that is something that I have always battled with. I have spent weeks wrestling with the idea to go bungee jumping or not.
The Big Plunge in Nepal
So I decided to take that risk and trust that it would all work out. I was ultimately willing to take responsibility for my actions no matter the outcome. So I asked my friend Kaye if she wants to go to Nepal with me and do bungee jumping at the Last Resort since she is looking for another place to travel. Then, without further ado, she agreed instantly.
I immediately booked and email the last resort to booked our bungee on the last day of our Nepal Do it ourselves tour. But sadly, they replied and told me that the resort will be close for our last 3 days in Nepal because of the local election and they were advised not to take any trips from Kathmandu to Bhote Koshi River. The only available slot is on our first day in Nepal which we planned already that we will take rest since I am coming from straight 12 hours duty direct to Sharjah going to Nepal and will take four hours flight from then. So it will be a rollercoster adventure for us on that day. Doing that bungee jump on the first day is a legal suicide for both of us. But we said YES, because we think that the longer we will wait to take that leap, the more time we have to make excuses and convince ourselves to back out. It was decided, all we had to do was wait for the weekend to arrive, and until then we tried to forget that we’d soon be stepping into thin air.
The Journey in Nepal Begins
The weekend arrived, we flew all the way from Sharjah to Nepal and for just few hours flight, we arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport, passed through customs and immigration and hopped in a service car which the last resort provided. Going to the Last resort is a 4-5 hours rough ride to one of the dangerous road of Nepal, so we experience dune ride bashing without the sands of Dubai, *that alone makes us dizzy, exhausted and giddy before doing the bungee*. But along the way you can enjoy scenic view of Nepal. The last resort Nepal is located on a bridge overlooking the rapids of the Bhote Kosi river, about north side of Mt Everest and just seven miles from the Tibetan border of China.
Bungee Jumping in Nepal
On the bumpy ride I was feeling quite okay but nervous about the idea. But over the past half-year of travelling the world solo or with friends, I have become quite comfortable with facing my fears and challenging myself. In fact, bungee jumping has always been the ultimate challenge I thought I would never complete. I’m not sure when or why my outlook changed, but it certainly did. Not only was I nervous on the afternoon of my bungee jump (don’t forget this isn’t any ordinary jump, it is the second world’s highest natural bungee jump, higher than the Nevis of New Zealand!!!), but I was actually excited about what lay ahead. When we arrived at the last resort, we immediately signed the consent form for the bungee. When we are about to pass the suspension bridge, two person who are about to jump didn’t push through. They are scared, really scared to do it. And the crew looked at us telling, are you the last two person who are about to jump because they cancelled it? Somehow I am the one who volunteer to jump first before my friend Kaye. Brave? Nahhh.. I just tell myself that “Manith, you need to get over this!” Then one crew member calls me up.
He yanks on my harness on a few places, makes a few small adjustments and check my hands. My 45kg weight is marked on my right hand. “Was my weight okay for them to let me do the bungee?” I asked myself while wearing this weird strappy harness thing that snug on my hips and over my shoulders. There’s a dangling hook thing that flaps around while I wait. My heart pumps rapidly. The adrenaline is flowing. People were yelling, the guides were wishing me luck, and my friend, Kaye couldn’t stop smiling. The crew member tells you to look up at the camera and smile. What camera?! I smile and try to look brave. Flash! (that’s one for Instagram I think to myself). The crew member starts strapping all sorts of things to my feet. I sit there 3 feet from the ledge from where I am about to jump 160 meters to meet my death or my complete elation. I stare around looking at all the unfamiliar equipment, harnesses, carabiners, cables, wires, winches, and bungee. Meanwhile one of the crew member instructed me how to do the bungee jump. Afterwards, he asks me to stand up from my chair and asked some question about what he instructed me earlier. All I remember was the BLACK string to pull up and Yellow to hold.
I stand up. Wondering if my parents will be okay without me.
My feet are bound together so I waddle over towards the ledge. My hands started to shake and clam up and I caught a severe case of Jello legs. The terror hit me when they bound my legs in cuffs and attached me to the elastic cord. There was no turning back. I stand at the edge of the platform with a sweeping rush of vertigo. A shot of adrenaline pumps through my veins; as if I needed more.
I am now standing at the edge. This is happening. The crew member is holding my harness at my back. Neither pushing me nor pulling me back. But you know he’s there. He tells you he’s going to count down from three. I grasped his shirt and asked him not to push me.. “Wait, Kuya” I just want a second to take it all in. Heart is pumping incessantly. You take a deep breath. Never do you think of turning back. It’s not an option. I stand there taking it all in. I look down and get dizzy.
This is happening Manith.
This is happening Manith.
This is happening Manith.
I look out to the distant mountain peak.
I bend my knees, arms out. Then the bungee master shout “Three, Two, One, BUNGEE!!!”
I lose connection with everything that is solid, secure, and familiar. You are falling Manith. I look down. The wind is ripping through my hair. I feel free. All the anxiety, fear, nervousness, disappears in an instant. I just let go of everything. I am falling. I am completely inverted. Head down, feet up. I see the ground below. I scream and shouted with fear! It’s coming at me and it’s coming FAST. There’s a bit of roller coaster feeling in your stomach but funny enough it’s not as bad as a roller coaster. You’ve been falling for a few seconds. Where’s the bungee? I asked. Then I feel the bungee starting to pull at my feet. During that moment, time seemed to stand still. I just spread my arms out and let go and enjoyed the moment. I felt a sense of euphoria followed by a feeling of peace and calm. It was such a Zen moment for me. There’s a gentle pull at my legs and hips that slows me as I speed towards the ground. The blood rushes to my head as well as my red ombre hair. I came to a stop and then almost at once I am moving away from the ground. Blood still rushing to my head. I get to the top and then I am falling again. I feel another pull on my legs and hips but not as strong. At the top I am still upside down. I yank on the black strappy thing as I remember one crew member instructed me to release my feet so I can sit upright for the ride back up to the platform. It takes a few quick jerks of my arm but it releases. I did it! I think to myself while I am suspended over 100 feet off the ground. And I remember that it’s only this rubber band bungee that’s holding me up. I remember I’m afraid of heights. But somehow my fear is masked by this feeling of complete elation. I look down & then up and there’s my friend Kaye who is smiling at me. i gaze all around and yell out “WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOO! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!”
A little yellow connector thing is coming down alongside my bungee as I look up. I am bouncing so gently on my bungee as I sit there in my harness and recount what I have just done. The little yellow connector snaps into my harness and starts pulling me up. What? It’s over? I got a huge smile on my face. The ride up takes about 60 seconds. I take it all in. When I get to the top I am spinning a bit. The blood rushes to my feet as I realize that I’m off of the ledge and not on solid ground. My fear of heights comes back to me. Ear to ear grin. I look for my friend Kaye, who is about to do the same with me. My hands are shaking. The adrenaline is still with me. Crew member grabs my bungee and pulls me to the suspension bridge. I reach out to the deck with my feet. More blood runs to my feet. Then I make a contact with solid ground. I am back. I’m back on this suspension bridge.
The Realization & The Achievement
And at that moment, I realized one important thing…. that YOU could really do ANYTHING YOU wanted. It might be scary, hard or seem impossible. But if you really want it, you can find the way by taking small steps forward because life itself is risky and there’s no way of telling whether the decisions you’re about to make are right or wrong until you’ve made them. You just have to accept responsibility for your actions afterwards.
You have to take that risk and have faith that it will pay off. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t. In the end, at least you have faced your fears and taken that leap of faith. One of my biggest weaknesses is that I have a tendency to think too much and over analyze things before I make a decision. Sometimes in life you just have to take that leap of faith. Close your eyes, jump and everything will work out. Well yeah, Happy 27th birthday to me with another BUCKETLIST CHECKED on my list.