Adventures – Chicken Suit Bungee

indonesia

Journal Extract:

…I drove back to Kuta to do my third and final bungee jump on the beach. I’d bought a deluxe package of 3 jumps – a standard jump where the cord is attached at the feet, a ‘spider’ jump with a harness around the waist giving you more freefall freedom and a final jump where you do a run-up on a BMX (the bike is attached to you). In preparation, I’d not eaten for a while and did the biggest poo I could muster to ensure no messy accidents during the escapade…

I’ll be honest – I derived no enjoyment at all from the exercise and literally spent 8 minutes ‘contemplating’ on the edge of the platform during the first jump. By the second one I’d cut my emotional crisis on the edge down to 6 minutes. The crew told me that the longer I wait, the harder it would be – they weren’t wrong and I wish they’d have just pushed me. They say skydives are easier – I have a couple of solo skydives to my credit and agree, at least, that parachute jumps are more abstract – you’re up in the clouds and are generally pushed out! However, here you have a situation where you can see the ground clearly and are being asked carry out an action which your brain reminds you is – in essence – an act of suicide.

Strangely enough, during those 8 minutes I wasn’t having deep and pensive thoughts about existence or poetically considering the metaphorical value of the endeavour and to the rest of my life. Nor was I obsessing over death, or the safety record of the company (which is 100%). Rather, I had scrunched up my face, gripped a nearby bar and continually tried to count myself down. “Ok… now… 3,2,1…now… go… 5,4,3,2,1…ok…this time….go…and go!” over and over – with lots of swearing – until I eventually put out my hands and leant forward just a little. The crowd had lost interest in clapping and counting me down, the crew was obviously getting tired. I’m not sure what made me go, but it’s all a daze now. The sensation is similar to the rush of a rollercoaster – you don’t achieve a new perspective as you do skydiving or gain a sense of achievement as you do rafting – the worse part is the psyching oneself up. For me, there was no fun – the brain and body just freeze in disagreement, and this is what I remember. There is an odd sensation of being pulled back up on the first bounce and falling all over again, then again until things settle down and a guy with a big stick guides you down on to a mattress.

I’d like to say I hollered witty banter as I fell, or – as I’d planned – done the YMCA as I exhibited my majestic bravery to adoring Australian hotties watching below. Instead, I kept my eyes tightly shut throughout, clenched my stomach, held my breath and managed a couple of squawks to complete the effect of me being dressed as a chicken. The second jump was no different in the stress it caused, so I couldn’t really appreciate the apparently different sensation of a ‘spider’ jump. It was a fitting choice of outfit I suppose, as – 3 days later – when my appointment to ride off the edge on a push bike came along, I truly became a chicken inside and out…

I’d jumped twice, proven myself and got the t-shirt (literally) – I’d confirmed my status as a reluctant hedonist, stubborn enough to follow through on activities my conscious mind has no desire to engage in (I’ve gotten in similar states during all the adventure sports I engage in). So what was the point in going through this all again? How was I going to be able to pedal over the tiny lip at the end of the platform, which – at the time – looked as huge as a speed bump? Who was I trying to impress anyway, and where was the fun in all this? The crew dilly dallied around me attaching clips, cords, harnesses and straps. I sat on the bike, chicken head over the crash helmet, in a daze, looking at the sea and the kites. For three days I’d been torturously playing out the moment in my head, dreading it – and for the past hour, my heart had been thumping and a sickness had washed over me. Now, it was a dull, numb tiredness with the whole affair and barely a coherent or relevant thought registered in my head – this was probably a good thing, but I knew I wasn’t going to do it. Lauran appeared in the queue – she was a French girl I met who took it in turns with me to jump and film each other. If a dozen of my friends or a girlfriend had been watching down below, I doubt I’d have hesitated but now the only person I’d really befriended throughout my travels this summer was in the wrong place – it sealed the deal and I gave my ticket to her.

It seems chickens can’t fly after all and Lauran did the BMX jump with ease… The rest of the evening wasn’t spent in relief rather than regret, but I started to take things too seriously and looked for deeper meaning my hesitation when I first jumped, and my eventual dropping out. Surely it said something about my character? Had I finally failed in pushing myself to do adventurous things and was this symbolic of my recent fear that I’d finally run out of ideas? The crew warned about ‘thinking too much’ and perhaps my same habit in life of over-analysing everything would have a similar deadlock effect in the long run? Perhaps… or maybe I was just a big fat scaredy cat who got out-bungeed by a girl…

I agreed with Lauran (who, in a fit of originality, I’d hilariously dubbed ‘Frenchy’) when she said that the stomach butterflies were exactly the same as the tension you feel just before you tell someone you like them. The mini-violins started up as I realised that the analogy is particularly applicable to me, as this tense feeling is generally always followed by a downward fall… As for doing it again? Well, Hong Kong’s neighbour – Macau – is home to the world’s longest bungee jump, around a quarter of a kilometre, jumping off a skyscraper… Frankly I’d rather dine on my own kidneys….

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Photography…
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