5:45 am we’re to meet the guy from the bungee-company in the lobby and I almost miss it again, since I forgot to adjust the clock yesterday… We walk over and hang around with all the other nervous people by the bungee office.
We are stuffed into a bus and are on our way. It’s a rather long ride but we befriend two aussie guys, Mal and Gary, who are just come back from a trek to the Everest base camp. They have a lot of stories about altitude sickness and extreme fatigue, apparently the entire trek takes about nine days – seven on the way up and only two down. You live at simple hostels all the way up, so there’s no need for tents, but you freeze a good bit anyway they assured us. Mal had promised himself that if they made it all the way up there he would go for the bungee as well, Gary wasn’t as keen on the idea though but tagged along for company.
Mal was working as a mechanic and when he heard we were swedes ha had a thing or two to tell us about the quality of SAABs… Not very good, if we are to sum it up, but certainly not as bad as TATAs, which were all hand welded and where you could often see where the welder had blown a hole through the metal and just welded a sheet to cover the hole.
Monica isn’t feeling well and has to stop the bus to throw up, turns out later that several others back at the hotel also were sick, so I guess it was something they ate. Ricard and I are unaffected though. After a while we come up on the gorge where the jumping is to take place. There is a long suspension bridge crossing it and we have to wait for the people already out on the bridge to finish jumping. Tension is building, and when we finally cross the bridge it’s on shaky legs. The bridge is 160 m over the riverbed below so you can bet I held on to the railing for dear life!
On the other side there is a really relaxed briefing hall with low tables and cushions all around. The briefing is short and to the point, and when one of the girls ask if they will push you if you’re too scared to walk off the ledge by yourself the answer is a cool “this is bungy jumping, not bungy pushing”. Then it’s time for weigh-in, and you get your weight written on the back of your hand. It all feels really professional so I’m not really worried about the safety aspects.
We’re up right away and once again trot out on the suspension bridge – just as scary as last time around! We’re a sizable group of about 25 people and we line up in ascending order according to weight, it’s theorized that the light ones go first while the cord isn’t fully warmed up but it’s mostly idle speculation. Anyway, this means since Ricard and I are among the heaviest we get to wait to almost last, and at 3-4 minutes a person this works out to a pretty long wait…
All that waiting means that the scariness is starting to wear off and suddenly the 160 m doesn’t seem all that scary anymore. Also helping is seeing many of the others not following the instructions we got at all and still being okay. Since both Ricard and Mal are going bungy they end up going before me, but right after it’s my turn, I actually miss Ricards jump as I get the harness on. By now all the courage I had developed standing around watching the others is but a fleeting memory and my pulse is racing. I manage to say a few words to the camera before walking up to where the ledge is. There I have a few moments to contemplate my mortality before they start attaching the snaplinks.
Edging out on the ledge where there is suddenly nothing to hold on to except the actual cord I’ll be swinging by it all becomes very real. The cord slips over the ledge with a gut wrenching tug, now it’s just me and the abyss (and the guy holding on to me I guess, but that wasn’t very comforting). As instructed earlier he started counting: “1, 2, 3, GO!”, it was all very calm, but also very authoritative. It felt only natural to step out into the void at that point.
WOOOOOOSH! It’s surprisingly lout I remember thinking, also there’s the feeling of “nogroudnogroundnoground” (as can be witnessed by my frantically pumping legs in the video). According to the homepage it’s a six second free fall, but knowing some basic physics that number seems off , since by five seconds you’ve fallen just over 120 m while they at the same time claim that there’s a 100 m free fall. Ah well, as the gentle tug of the cord says that it’s time for the swing portion I try to collect my body parts and assume the pose I had figured out while waiting around up on the bridge.
After a while the swinging stops and a guy on a platform to the side raises a rope over the river that I can grab on to and start pulling myself in. Back on the ground I go over to Ricard for a bear hug and to wait for Monica to jump. Her jump goes as planned and we come together for an adrenaline-fueled group hug before beginning the ascent from the gorge. This is probably the most dangerous part of the entire experience! You climb up the side of the gorge on precariously placed rocks with no railing to hold on to. It’s positively exhausting, so the delicious lunch waiting up top is certainly a welcome one!
Being still all riled up Ricard and I talk ourselves into a second jump (this had been advertised as an option before). But when we talk to them they give the same answer as the day before about the bungy – it’s full. Doing the exact same thing again isn’t as appealing though so we call it off. Meanwhile they’ve set up the videos of the jumps so that we can watch them before deciding if we want to buy them. Naturally we do buy them even though they’re ridiculously priced, about 200 sek, a third of the price for the entire thing. We also get a pretty cool t-shirt as a memory of it all.
Ride home is uneventful but late, and we manage to miss the walkthrough by the trekking company. Doesn’t seem to matter much though, according to the others he was mainly a pompous ass with not much useful to say.