the wonderful world of veena.

07 August 2012

30 before 30: crossing off number 1!

  1. Go bungee jumping.
  2. Go sky-diving.
  3. Spend one week on my own in Honey Valley, cut off from the world and from all of my electronic gadgets.
  4. Do a wine tour [preferably in California, but due to logistical constraints, improvisations may have to be made].
  5. Complete my Master of Public Service degree.
  6. Run a half marathon.
  7. Explore a new part of India.
  8. Be vegetarian for one month.
  9. Go skinny-dipping.
  10. Learn to scuba dive.
When Jack and I found out that we would be in Kathmandu at the same time, for some crazy reason we decided it would be a good idea to go bungee jumping together. We knew that if we had each other for moral support, we'd have to go through with it. So since Jack arrived in Kathmandu before me, he researched a few places and found one called the last resort that offered a bungee jump outside the city could be completed in a day trip from the city.

When I arrived on Saturday, after our viewing of Kumari and a stop for a samosa, we wandered to Thamel and booked our jump for Sunday. And at 5.45am Sunday morning, as the city was still deep in slumber, we climbed aboard a bus for the 3-and-a-half hour journey to the resort's location, near the Tibet border, where we would be jumping.

When we arrived at the resort, we had to walk across the bridge off which we would be jumping shortly. It was a pretty rickety bridge, and I think we both had quite a few butterflies in our stomach on the walk.

[the platform from which we jumped]

[the hills in the distance and the rushing water below. not at all scary, I swear]

[the secret is to focus on the houses in the distance and jump out toward them. or so I was told, so that's what I did]
Once across, our entire group was gathered for a briefing on the procedures for the jump. We were all weighed [guess who put on a few pounds during her months in India? yikes] and put into groups accordingly. Luckily Jack and I were in the same group, so we would be together on the bridge before jumping.

We were in the second group, and we had to wait for quite a while for the first group to complete their jumps. There was a little viewing platform where we could sit and watch, and it was both comforting to see others do it successfully as well as a little nerve-wracking to just have to sit around and wait. While waiting with a Korean guy who was jumping in the third group, we met a nice elderly Dutch couple who had just arrived to spend a few days at the resort, and we discussed with them how we got the crazy idea into our heads to jump off a bridge. They were not up for jumping themselves, but they were really nice to talk to.

Finally the first group was finished, and it was our turn to head out on the bridge. Yong-Ma, our very nice friend from Korea, agreed to take some pictures for us, so you can see for yourselves what our jumps looked like...

[Jack getting ready to jump]

[me getting ready to jump]

[on the way down]

[free falling]
It was a pretty awesome experience. Standing up on that bridge, watching others strap in and go, there were moments when I wasn't sure I would go through with it. Once Jack went, however, I was ok. It was somehow calming to watch him jump, and once he was all the way down, I knew I would be ok. There was a Dutch guy in our group who had done it a few times last year, and he told me to focus on the houses in the distance and jump out toward them, so that is what I concentrated on doing.

When it came time for me to get strapped into my harness, my mind was oddly blank. The videographer stuck the camera in my face and asked me how I was feeling, and I muttered inane statement about how I couldn't believe I was doing this to myself, or some such nonsense. While I was sitting, though, I started talking to him, and it was really calming. Then the guy who would be out on the platform came to strap me in one final time, and I asked what his name was, as I wanted to know who was pushing me off the bridge. His name was Prakash. I found it quite fitting and also a bit relieving. I know it's silly, but it's the truth.

Off we went onto the platform, I waved to the camera and to the people sitting and watching, Prakash said "3-2-1-bungee", and I jumped. I wanted to shout a "wooooo" as I fell, but I was so speechless that no words would come out. And it's not often that I am speechless.

Honestly, the first 160m drop - apparently the 3rd highest free fall in the world - wasn't scary at all. It was over before it even sunk in that I had just voluntarily jumped off a bridge. The first time it bounced me back up was a little unnerving, kind of like when you're on a roller coaster going upside-down, but then even that was over quickly. And then there was just the sight of the rushing water below me, and the guys who had gone before me who were waiting for me to be lowered all the way down.

There was one last guy to go after me, so we waited for him and then began our hike back up to the resort. And it was a hike. So many steps. I definitely had to stop a few times on the way back up. We tried to make it back in time to see Yong-Ma jump, but he jumped before we were able to get back. After he hiked back up, we grabbed some lunch and sat while we waited for the third group to finish their jumps and come back for lunch.

While we waited, Jack and I reflected a bit on the resort itself. As much as I enjoyed the experience and the jump, it was difficult to reconcile that I had, however unknowingly, supported a place that so clearly caters to wealthy western tourists. On the hike back to the resort, we passed through a small village, and by asking one of the workers, we discovered that the village had existed before the resort was built, and we wondered what those villagers thought of the people who visited. The Last Resort claims to support local economies, so maybe it has been a boon for the people who live there, but I can't help but wonder what it must be like to have your normal routine so completely changed when a resort like this crops up. It's certainly something to think about.

But that is another post for another day [how many times have you heard me say that?]. For today, I am celebrating crossing a big one off my 30 before 30 list. Can't wait to see what the next one is!

[I have to give a big shout-out to Jack for being game for this and for joining me on the adventure. it definitely helped having a friend there, and I don't know that I would have done it without him. thank you, Jackalope!]

1 comment:

  1. It could've been better to take Jack's pictures on drive mode getting sequential picture :( and Thank you a lot for passing on the mail I miss sent to you :) Hopefully your list will be done shortly!