From our Travel Notes: September 2017
“5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Go, Go, GO!!” And we jumped!
Bungee jump was something we wanted to experience – after all, it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments! And our chance came in 2017 on a family trip to Hong Kong & Macau. AJ Hackett, a New Zealand based and globally recognized company, runs an experience center at the Macau Tower and offers adventure thrills like Skywalk and Bungee Jump.
After reading the details, we were all in for the Skywalk – a walk on an open platform on the top of the tower – and made our booking. But the question that beckoned was – do we do the Bungee jump or not?
For Sohil, an adventure junkie, it was on the bucket list and a matter of ‘when rather than if’.
For Itisha, a reluctant enthusiast, it was also on the bucket list but a matter of ‘someday, sometime in the near future, maybe’.
A month before the trip, Iti developed cold feet and decided that she was not doing the jump, at least not this time. Soh, a bit disappointed at first, knew not to push her but decided that he was definitely doing the jump. He was also confident that he will be able to convince Iti for it, even if it came down to the very last minute.
Months to weeks, weeks to days, we were finally on the trip but had actually still not booked! On reaching the Macau Tower, we were undecided and went for our Skywalk. That experience was actually the clincher for Iti.
The Skywalk platform is next to the Bungee platform and gave us an up-close & personal view of a couple of jumps that happened. We could see that each jump was managed very professionally by the staff which had a calming effect. And people from all walks of life were taking part in the jump which gave the confidence (“If they can do it, so can I” said Iti).
As soon as we finished our Skywalk, the organizers asked ‘Do you want to go for a bungee jump now?’, and Iti finally said ‘Yes!’
Since the experience was very different for both of us (as will be obvious from the videos) we are breaking down the next part from our individual lens. Iti decided to go first, since she knew that if Soh was not behind her, she might back out.
Before our trip, my mind was constantly shuffling between ‘I should not miss this opportunity’ and ‘Is it even worth the effort?’ I was almost convinced that I will have some kind of a mid-air panic attack the minute I jump.
As I do before taking any major decision, I went through multiple articles, blog posts, videos, Quora threads, with lists of what and what-not, and had conversations with friends who had done it to try to find the answer to a single question – ‘How does it feel to Bungee Jump?’
Although I was still unsure, I did arrive at two golden-rules that helped me before the jump –
1. Don’t Overthink – If you think too much of the why, how, etc., then chances are you will probably decide not to jump at all. Just go with the flow, listen to the instructions, and enjoy the moment.
2. Matter of few seconds – The frightening part, the free fall, lasts for only about 7-10 seconds. After that, as the rope gently tugs you back, your speed reduces significantly and you can just enjoy the experience & take in the views. Those scary few seconds will be over before you know it.
So with these rules, I got geared up and was ready to jump from the building. The staff was fun & in a jovial mood, helping to calm down the nerves. Some tiny part of me wanted to run away at that moment itself & I had to keep on reminding myself to ‘Be Cool’ (or at least pretend to).
My heart skipped a beat when I walked to the edge of the platform. I was taking baby steps because the rope and the harness made it difficult to walk. Suddenly the countdown started, and once the instructor says ‘Go’, the only thing you do is GO!
As soon as the free-fall started, I went through a range of emotions from; ‘Why did I sign up for this?’, ‘This is way scarier than what I read on the internet’, to finally, ‘Am I in one of those dreams where you keep falling in a bottomless pit?’ (Except that gravity is funny, and your speed increases, making it even scarier). But true to what I had read, within 8-10 seconds, I felt the tug of the rope and the harness pull me back up and into the pendulum movement.
For the next couple of minutes, I was on cloud nine! I was hanging mid-air, and watching the world upside down (I was given instructions on how to pull a part of the rope so that I could straighten up, but I forgot!). So there I was, inverted, watching the Macau city and being extremely proud of myself that I jumped from the 63rd floor of a building.
It was a thrilling, though short-lived, experience and a big tick off the bucket list! (The end…)
(Addendum on Iti’s ‘request’)
As soon as I knew of the possibility of doing a bungee jump on the trip, I was excited, and looking forward to it.
But I had a niggling concern – how will it affect my back? The fall itself is straight down, but there is supposed to be a tug that pulls on the harness and puts the jumper into the pendulum movement. I have had some issues with my back over the years and was a bit tentative about the impact of this jerky motion. I did read some posts about it, and what I gathered was that the gear is pivoted around the legs and not the back. Further research, specific to AJ Hackett, also proved useful in providing enough information and I was excited once again.
On the day, after the Skywalk and before the jump itself, I wasn’t giving it much thought other than figuring out the details (which took 5 minutes) and calming Iti (which took a lot, a lot longer). All her research was going through her mind and my main aim was to keep reminding her of her own rules! When she finally jumped and I heard her scream, I knew she would have closed her eyes the entire time.
And soon it was my turn. I was enjoying the entire process of gearing up though not so much of being told to pose for multiple photos before the jump itself. Later we realized that the mini-photo session was more for record-keeping on their safety standards and process (which were extensive).
For the longest time and even during the gearing process, the only thought I had was about how I am going to jump – backward, somersault, sideways. But the organizers quickly poured water over that by refusing any of those actions and I was told (thrice) – ‘don’t jump, just fall naturally’. That was a bummer; bungee fall does not sound as exciting as bungee jump!
But whatever be it called, those 9 seconds are mind-blowing, and the rest of the time hanging to the harness and watching over the scenery are relaxing.
After our jump, we waited another hour waiting for our photos and videos to process, all the while reliving those moments. It was difficult to discuss the euphoria, but we did our best to put words to it for our family.
The entire time, the staff at AJ Hackett was really cordial and professional and were always smiling, yet maintaining the safety standards which definitely added to the positive experience. And true to the research and the information, it did not impact Soh’s back one bit.
We were also a bit surprised that on-the-spot bungee slots were available without any wait. This was in September 2017, so not sure if things have changed since then.
With a big smile on both our faces, along with branded memento t-shirts and pen-drives (with our memories), and we were off to explore the rest of Macau.