…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.
In summer 2002, I joined the rest of my gap year group in Uganda for a day of white water rafting down some of the best rapids in the world. There were 11 sets of rapids starting at the soon-to-be-flooded source of the Nile, Bujagali Falls. Four of the rapids were grade five (the biggest you can safely raft!). The last rapid, ‘The Bad Place’ apparently verges on a grade 6. A full day with lunch is US$75 with Equator Rafts, but you’d best be quick as a dam is being built and the serene Bujagali stretch will soon be lost forever.
I rafted again a year later in India on the River Beas (bottom row of photos). The Himalayas formed a gorgeous backdrop, and although the rapids weren’t as fierce (4 being the highest), it was still great fun. A morning of rafting from Manali with Himalayan Journeys was under £20.
In 2006 I went rafting down a stretch of rapids near Chiang Mai in Thailand (video below). A half-day on up to grade 4 rapids, mountain biking in the jungle and an elephant ride at a sanctuary totalled about £30.
Paragliding over the gorgeous Himalayan mountain range in India, from 3,400 metres, is a truly magnificent experience – and it cost next to nothing when I visited in 2003 (see the India page).
The fantastic affordability was partly due to us choosing to do a jump with some near ‘cowboys’ who seemed to be slightly intoxicated and/or had a death wish. The video, above, is worth watching for the comedy value of my mid-air conversation with ‘Aman’, with whom I shared a worryingly shoddy harness. The flight lasted around 20 minutes.
On July 2nd, 2000 at Hinton Skydiving Centre, I joined two friends to complete a solo skydive for Cancer Research UK. Amy Reid, Kirsty Harris and I raised over £1,200 for the charity. Despite landing on the runway, and managing to get ‘twists’ in the lines of my multicoloured parachute, things otherwise went smoothly and I did another jump in October that year.