How does bungy jumping really feel? Bungy jump Thailand

grey How does bungy jumping really feel? Bungy jump Thailand

The heavily tattooed man looks at me over his chipped counter, “You want the photo combo mate?”

“No thanks, just a jump” I say shakily thinking about this bungy jump Thailand style.

Already I can feel the metallic taste of fear. Behind and above Tattoos is another man. Pale and overweight he quivers high on a ledge not daring to look down. I watch the man shake on his ledge for a few long minutes before he jumps…when I say ‘he jumps’, more to the point he leans out too far one time and before he can catch himself gravity takes control of the situation. Like a surprised fish on a hook he silently falls until the cord catches and bounces him around. Red faced and visibly distressed he is lowered to a pontoon on the dirty lake where he is released from his bindings. Free again he jumps to his feet before scuttling to a waiting taxi which whisks him away. A trip which no doubt will end at the nearest bar.

Besides Tattoos and a few others I am now alone at the bungee centre.

Random bird noises from a nearby wetlands punctuate a heavy silence over the grounds.Now it is my turn to test gravity. A dark skinned man in a faded T-shirt wraps a towel then some straps around my ankles before calling over a colleague to check. A rusting crane creaks nearby under the weight of the platform. The second man lowers my confidence in this Thai operation by retying my legs before I am allowed to shuffle over to the crane.

The rickety crane laboriously raises me and my dark skinned companion about fifty metres up over the water. The man is trying to make friendly conversation in pidgin English as we rise, ‘Do you like here?’…’Where from you?’ He asks with a wide Thai grin.

grey How does bungy jumping really feel? Bungy jump Thailand

I reply distractedly with, ‘Yes. Tasmania…in Australia’ As I speak the view around me opens up to reveal lush green jungle. As the ground slowly drops away so to does my ability to hold a casual conversation. It is fine for the other guy, he only has a commercial interest in the fraying cord. My interest is far more personal. At least the centre is empty so there is no one to hear me screaming like a little girl. My mind throws up a random image of a lone spacecraft orbiting earth; ‘In space, no one can hear you scream.’ The crane shudders to an unconvinced halt but my shuddering continues unabated. Near the car park I see a group of drunk tourists materialise from the kiosk…apparently in Thailand there is always someone to hear you scream.

I must look quite a sight. Last night I checked out my skinny frame in the mirror. Twenty-eight days of hard climbing in Nepal has left my face dark above a snow white torso, I am now long bearded with very unkempt hair. I would certainly be able to scare small children without breaking a sweat. At least I am starting to look like a footloose traveler, if not always acting the part.grey How does bungy jumping really feel? Bungy jump Thailand

I force all thoughts of breaking bungy cord out of my mind and instead focus on the job at hand, overcome all natural survival instincts and jump off this bloody platform. It feels much higher from up here on the swaying platform. A mere fifty metres above the water I am shaking like a poorly maintained VW and cannot see the cord. This is one of the biggest mind fucks with bungy jumping, the cord loops away below and out of sight. It truly feels like a suicidal act.

I look down, trust that my angels have not left me, gulp, then jump and plummet towards the dirty green lagoon.

My mind slows as my body accelerates.

With every cell in my body I feel that amazing acceleration. The whooshing of air past my ears gets louder and louder. The lagoon rushes up at me and my jaw is clenched tight.

Just as I start to panic about the cord my fall slows, all this happens in three weightless seconds.

Despite trying to keep all my openings clenched I think I let out a little squeak of fear mid-flight.  The deceleration is surprisingly smooth because as soon as the cord is fully stretched out it starts slowing the fall, by the time you start to bob upwards again you have gently slowed to nothing. A few upside down bounces stills and leaves me hanging by my feet over the filthy water. My head fills with blood and I can feel my pounding heart as I wait for the crane to lower me onto the small pontoon.

Back on solid ground I decide that maybe, just maybe, doing a bungy jump in Thailand after 28 days climbing in Nepal was not the best way to ‘wind down’.

Oh well, at least I have just ticked off another thing on my bucket list!

(All photos not the author’s, linkbacks and credit provided where possible)


I got drugged in Thailand

Most people will not believe that I got drugged in Thailand…this is what happened

‘Massage sir, massage, good for you?’

‘No. thanks.’

Following a busy day underwater I need food, not a massage or other distraction. The locals are obsessed with my burgeoning beard and seem desperate to offer all kinds of grooming services, some much more personal than others. I find a quiet corner in a busy restaurant, order Pad Thai and settle in to let the atmosphere envelop me. As foreign conversation washes over my head tangy odours escape the kitchen I still feel somewhat dreamy after my day underwater. Pad Thai is a very spicy Thai dish this time being presented by a raving homosexual waiter along with a Sambuca chaser, ‘I give you freee drink because you seee naarce.’

With my tongue tingling and belly full I make my way to the Irish Pub which has fast become a local, I order a pint of Guinness then strike up a conversation with a friendly, young English couple here on honeymoon. When we drain our glasses they invite me to find a club for a dance. I agree to join them, after all I cannot spend every night cowering in my hotel room folding T-shirts and dreaming up worse case scenarios. We find a seemingly friendly place and take seats in a corner, I leave to buy a round of beers. Halfway through our second round the couple is clearly feeling more salubrious than I and start talking about having a dance. I tell them I am not in a dancing mood and am content to hold the seat, watch the drinks and people watch.

My friends get up to dance but soon return with another round of drinks, not happy with the music playing. To my right is a table of older American men, they all sport hairstyles that missed them by a generation, their age betrayed by growing crows feet around their eyes. They are clearly enjoying the attentions of many heavily made up Thai women and lady-boys who circle like smiling vultures. To my right a clutch of young Thai friends keep to themselves, clearly they don’t appreciate the crush of drunk foreigners. I ask the couple to look after my drink while I go to the bathroom and soon return to find our table deserted apart from our drinks sitting alone and abandoned. I glance around and spot my two friends dancing frantically nearby, sitting I chuckle to myself, ‘How is this song better?’ and sit down.

My half finished beer is undisturbed on the table so I pick it up and set about people watching, wearily I start to think about retiring soon to rest up for a day of sightseeing tomorrow.


It doesn’t hit me straight away but as I sit there watching people dance my reality gives a little shift, like a subtle aftershock. Things seem different somehow, my internal dialogue is becoming confused, lazy, relaxed. I put it down to maybe a bit of sunstroke, I certainly have not drunk enough alcohol to be drunk,

‘…let me think…a Sambuca with dinner, a pint of Guinness, two or three beers total…’ I am staring intently at the table wondering if it is real. ‘Maybe tipsy’


‘Wow…reality just gave a huge jump.’


I feel as if a large sheet of glass has been lowered between my reality and other people’s.


Trying to focus on the Americans next to me I see they have progressed to groping anything within reach with a female shape. I can see but cannot hear them,


‘Have my ears broken during the dive?’


It feels as though I am still underwater so I focus on breathing properly,


‘Breathe, dammit, This could be bad…what is happening?’


I manage to get to my feet and bounce around the room aimlessly like a metal ball escaped from a pinball machines. I am trying to find my friends. The floor seems to be moving under my legs and I am desperately tired, just staying upright is a huge effort.


At some point my synapses make the connection between my drink being left unattended and suddenly feeling discombobulated,


‘My drink has been tampered with, really, no? really, maybe?’


Realising that I am completely alone, somewhat lost and not thinking straight I start to panic. I lean against the wall and try to figure out a solution. My brain is not working properly. I keep getting distracted by the music fading in and out like a heartbeat, the walls lean in towards me, like I am inside a living creature. My vision closes up, and, like a blinkered horse I make my way outside for some fresh air. I am tripping over feet, knocking over chairs and annoying people in my desperation to be outside.


Outside in the fresh air the street now looks so desperately foreign that I simply cannot get bearings. The flow of party goers passes by me both more quickly yet slower than before, ‘Now, which way to the hotel?’ I really cannot get my bearings.


The street resembles a Tarantino movie, cartoonish and disjointed, I can almost make out text bubbles containing people’s thoughts as they pass. I don’t find an escape as much as an escape finds me. A tall, thin lady-boy in a short dress suddenly materialises,


‘Boom, Boom?’


Needing to get home I give a tired nod, hand over my hotel card with a small map on the back and carefully clamber onto the back of his/her scooter. We race off into the busy streets. I clutch at my gossamer thin reality like a child holding a balloon string. Scooters, faces and tuk tuks flash by, my night has turned into an anime cartoon strip.


We pull up outside my hotel, with me somewhat revived by the fresh air and recognising the entrance murmuring ‘Thank you’ to my unwitting saviour. Passing the door guard I remember saying one word to him, ‘ALONE’ and without breaking stride, leave him to placate my heavily made up pursuer turned saviour. Realising that he/she has just been unwittingly used for a free ride my swaying back is treated to a barrage of abuse.


I open the door of my room and memory fails me.


Waking sprawled on the floor next to my bed at four in the afternoon still dressed with all exposed skin a minefield of mosquito bites I realise I have left a window open. Trying to gather my thoughts under a cold shower I am relieved to find a distinct lack of surgical cuts around the kidney region. It is over thirty degrees but I am badly shivering. Why people would pay money to take drugs and to feel like this is currently beyond me but I am glad to have escaped with only mosquito bites. Maybe it was sunstroke. I walk past the security guard who throws over a pitying look, one perfected no doubt from years of seeing tourists chase or flee the seedier side of Thailand.


Rock climbing in Thailand – Patong

One type of adventure I do want to find however is Rock climbing in Thailand. Most of the numerous brochures on Thailand I had previously amassed show pictures of muscle striped guys topless in tight shorts and ballet shoes fearlessly powdering overhanging cliffs with chalk as the sapphire ocean laps at the rocks below. I want to be that guy.

Early the next morning Om my climbing guide picks me up at the hotel and leads me to his beaten up old Land Cruiser. Om is short and dark without one ounce of his weight wasted, despite being friendly and patient he is the kind of guy who makes you feel like a fat, uncoordinated goof. On the way to our climbing site Om stops to show me a Buddhist temple cut into a mountainside. During my time in Nepal I had seen many Buddhist temples perched on windy mountain passes and had developed something of a fascination with this set of beliefs. The whole religion is based on ‘Do unto others‘ and is littered with reminders that material belongings and power are both temporary and unimportant.

Having just offloaded most of my material belongings I am currently finding these beliefs most agreeable. Buddhists believe in reincarnation and Karma; if you are a prick to people you will come back as a disabled ant and have a rotten time, if you are a decent guy you will return with a leg opening smile and have a lovely old time. Previously I simply did not have the time to think about such obscure subjects as religion and what might happen when I check out. I always had a suspicion that Ricky Gervais was right when he said that Christianity is simply one woman’s lie to hide an affair which got out of control. No point worrying too much though, we will all find out one day as my friend Kathy says, ‘Don’t stress too much about life, nobody gets out alive.’

The temple which Om shows me is vastly different to those I had seen in Nepal. There are similarities such as the reclining Buddha and familiar artwork but it is set in a cave and less well tended. The temple is open to the air and as such nearby monkeys have made a home inside and incessantly harass visitors for bags of peanuts sold just outside the gate. The combined smell of bird and monkey faeces melting in the tropical heat is oppressive, maybe my nostrils are paying off some karmic debt for what I said to Mrs Bonney on my last day. I stay inside for as long as the stench will allow then vacate this holy area turned simian toilet to find Om drinking coffee in the sun with one of his friends.

A long-tail boat takes us and our climbing gear through mangrove swamps to the floating village where Om spent his childhood. Wooden huts perch on bamboo platforms over the water and are linked by rickety walkways, the whole village is moored to sheer cliffs behind. Looking around at locals peacefully fishing, cooking and selling handmade crafts I think that this is more like the type of adventure I am hunting, however I am yet to see a penis sheathed tribe member to speak with earnestly.

With Om leading we make our way towards the increasingly oppressive cliffs and onto the island proper. Om immediately scampers off into dense shrub leaving me to wallow in his wake, my ears strain for his movements to follow. The ground becomes increasingly steep and soon I burst out next to Om on a small ledge overlooking the village. Perched halfway up a fifty metre high cliff the view is expansive, a cool wind playing through the shrub make the leaves hiss. I can see the entire village and beyond to a swampy forest where long-tail boats patrol unofficial waterways.

Om has spent a large chunk of his earnings bolting new routes nearby his village, the man’s deep connection with this area is firmly entrenched in his warm smile. We tighten our harnesses which are like a heavy G-string minus the ‘Gee’, and Om asks if I have belayed a climber before I tell him ‘Yes.’ Without any preamble he checks my knots and scampers up the cliff to leave me on the ledge with a pile of rope.

I struggle to feed him rope such is his upward speed. Once efficiently at the top of the route he down climbs and tells me to have a try. I switch my boots for the grippy ballet shoes provided and hesitantly shuffle onto the cliff. I can see the rope securely attached at the top and have easy handholds but the sucking void behind keeps playing on my mind. I furiously try to push plummeting thoughts out of my head as sweat fills my brow but become increasingly shaky and nervous as my height, and exposure grows. At one point I look down and freeze. The sight of Om leaning casually on a tired little tree over the edge combined with the yawning drop below my feet make me freeze. I clutch at the rocks desperately, my arms burn and my calves shake. Om senses my nerves and yells up to me,

‘You OK Ben? Stay calm my friend, I have you.’

‘Getting a bit nervous up here Om, I want to come down now mate.’

Back on the ledge the rocks lose their ominous glow and the climb no longer looks so difficult. A second abortive climb sees us moving lower on the same cliff to climb. The second route which Om has bolted is much more technical but far less exposed and less of a mind game. I thoroughly enjoy working out where to place my hands and feet and trying to reach resting spots before my arms tire. Once I can no longer climb, Om takes me to his friend’s restaurant where we gorge on extremely local fish caught from right beneath our feet. I feel somewhat embarrassed with my inability to trust the rope properly but am glad to have had the opportunity to try out this exhilarating sport in a splendid location.

On the drive back to my hotel we are chatting aimlessly and I rub my stiffening arms when we spot a number of police cars further along the road. Om turns to me and says earnestly,

‘Passport check, have you got passport?’

‘No, did I need it? I had no idea…’

He pulls over and stops the truck, wearing a very concerned look he asks me why I left it behind. Om silently sits there with the same concerned look on his face for a few minutes before starting the car, laughing and saying,

‘It is only a vehicle inspection my friend, I love playing that trick on tourists.’

Scuba diving in Thailand

grey Scuba diving in Thailand

Fumbling and trying to screw the air regulators onto the tank, I am very excited to be Scuba diving in Thailand but have not dived for over a year so feel suitably nervous. Trying to remember what my friend Marek and I leant on our course I simply copy what the others around me are doing. No one has checked my PADI dive licence and I doubt anyone will. The tank to which I am about to trust my breathing is scratched and dented, the buoyancy vest is faded with ripped storage pockets.

Notwithstanding, the scenery surrounding the boat is spectacular, a steady stream of tourist laden boats pass us on sheet metal smooth water to view karst islands. Small green islands rise sharply and dot the bay with patches of green. The whole area provides ideal sightseeing and an opportunity for people to reproduce brochure photographs.

Loaded with scuba gear my delightfully busty Norwegian dive buddy and check each other’s oxygen flow and jump into the water to descend twenty-two metres to a cave. I am wearing only shorts and she a bikini as the water is bath warm even at depth. Our plan is to descend and explore a cave near the ocean floor then to corkscrew our way up around the island to the surface. The steep cliffs as seen from above continue right down to the ocean floor and make for truly spectacular diving.

grey Scuba diving in Thailand

A small shrimp nervously pokes his head out from some coral, spots me then darts back into his hiding place. Eels that peek their bald heads out hold a striking resemblance to my grade ten maths teacher, I am relaxed enough to forget where I am while watching and grin losing my mouthpiece. Holding back panic I recover it by following an air hose from the tank, I replace the lifeline, clear the water out and start breathing slightly embarrassed but glad that none of the other divers notice.

We swim a little way into a large cave, far enough in for the light to dim significantly. Normally I am not claustrophobic but sitting twenty-two metres underwater in a dimly lit cave make the walls feel like they are closing in. When I add another dent to my tank by bashing against the cave’s roof I decide to swim for open water and gladly continue exploring open water.Back on the boat my experienced dive buddy, whose wet bikini is losing
‘You have hardly used any air Ben, how do you use so little oxygen?’the struggle for decency leans down to check my gauges. My eyes reluctantly follow to where she is pointing,‘I’m making up for it now.’grey Scuba diving in Thailand

‘What?’‘I really don’t know how.’

Maybe my body is still full of red blood cells from the altitude of Nepal, maybe I am just fitter than last time I went scuba diving, on previous dives I gulped

grey Scuba diving in Thailand

 through my air at a furious rate. We went on to dive around a nearby wreck called the King Cruiser and at a reef called Shark Point which had no sharks.

With my air tanks all on empty and sinuses full of salty water I munch on tropical fruit as the boat slowly chugs its way past myriad other tourist boats exploring this amazing area. My dive buddy is luxuriating in the sun, I am desperately trying to avoid staring as her chest rises and falls in time with the ocean.


Thoroughly relaxed I listen to the world and simply revel in the tired floppy-limbed feel that follows a long dive in the water.

Bungy in Patong

To be a successful pharmacist one must possess something of an obsessive compulsive personality. The drugs have to be stacked on the shelves in such a way as to minimise the risk of accidentally giving Mrs Blogs antidepressants in place of blood pressure tablets. Every time a script is presented there are a series of checks to be done, such as their compatibilities, dosages and timing of dose. Not to mention numerous checks to ensure government concession cards are valid. These checks must be done with every script, however the obsessive checking needs to be somewhat controlled otherwise customers will be left waiting for half an hour just for a simple antibiotic. Fretting mothers with pyjama-clad kids would understandably be upset at the wait and business would suffer. Community pharmacy, therefore, is a balancing act between keeping the customers happy and keeping them healthy.

Pharmacy is an important job, Mrs Goggin needs to know that side effects may include barking like a sea lion and delusions of grandeur. Mr Blyth must be told to, ‘see his doctor if symptoms do not improve’, yellow warning stickers need careful placing to tell you that sleeping tablets may cause drowsiness. Seriously now, I do not want to downplay the importance of the pharmacist in healthcare but, these days with the internet returning diagnosis of life threatening disease at a frenetic rate I found that much of my time in ‘past life’ was occupied with reassuring customers that a pimple is just that, not the first sign of metastatic liver cancer. Customers aside, the routines and systems in place safeguard and maintain a happy pill popping community.

Throughout my career I mostly controlled my obsessive nature while also avoiding selling pep pills to schizophrenics. This obsessive aspect of my personality definitely worked in my favour during my sticker adhering career, but I quickly realise that these traits are something of a hinderance to my evolution into a footloose traveler. I have planned my trip down to the last detail; airport transfers arranged to and from every hotel stay, accommodation booked well in advance.

Even the way I pack my bag has quickly became systemised with checks in place. My banking widget and pocket knife clip to a string inside the top pocket of my pack, I have a spare credit card taped inside the padding of my rucksack, another in my little bag, one in my wallet. I pack the big red rucksack in reverse order of clothes needed. For example, my next stop is Thailand which means hot weather so I pack my warm jacket and jeans at the bottom, followed by light pants and shorts at the very top ready for use. My small backpack has a specific spot for my laptop, camera and wallet, my sunglasses live in the front pocket, spare camera cards in a leather change purse. I find comfort in knowing exactly where everything is, kind of like a buffer against any cultural shock or unexpected surprises, not that I have any planned.

With the smell of way too much Everest lager lingering on my breath a pre-booked private taxi shuttles me from the airport in Patong to the Hotel Graceland. I check in and neatly fold my clothes on the bench to ensure everything is in order. Shoes are neatly lined up next to my clothes, I have checked my small pack to ensure nothing is missing. Next I hide inside my room for two days, eating hotel hamburgers, watching bad movies and being too timid to venture further than a few blocks.

Halfway through a forgettable scene where Richard Gere is busily flashing his winning smile I look outside to the shining sun, remember why I left Tasmania and mentally slap myself in the face. Richard Gere was never meant to be part of my intrepid adventure. Throwing caution to the wind I check out of this luxury hotel early and pay my hefty room service bill. I shake off two days of catatonia and strike out to find adventure. With my red rucksack on my back I nervously flag down a local taxi and move to a slightly more gritty hotel closer to the beach. Having wasted two out of five in Patong I shake my pack empty onto the floor, hastily arrange my clothes and find the nearest tourist information centre. I need to book some activities to avoid this catatonia, the first activity I book is a bungy jump that afternoon.

A pre-booked taxi drops me at the bungy centre where I am greeted by a heavily tattooed and very bored looking man with a New Zealand accent. Behind and above Tattoos is another man, pale and overweight he quivers high on a ledge and does not dare look down. This sight makes me chuckle confidently and think,

‘I have recently done scarier things than this. This will present no significant challenge sir.’

I watch the man shake on his ledge for a few long minutes before he jumps. More to the point, he leans out into the emptiness too far and before he can catch himself gravity takes control of the situation. Like a surprised fish on a line he silently plummets until the cord catches him and bounces him up and down a few times. Red faced and visibly shaken he is lowered to a pontoon over the shallow dirty lake where he is released from his bindings. He jumps to his feet before scuttling to a waiting taxi, which he no doubt directs to the nearest bar. I am now left alone at the bungee centre with Tattoos. Random bird noises from a nearby wetlands punctuate a heavy silence over the grounds.

Now it is my turn to test gravity. The dark skinned man in a faded bungee T-shirt wraps a towel then some straps around my ankles before calling his colleague over to check as a rusting crane creaks nearby under the weight of the platform. The second man lowers my confidence in this operation further by undoing the whole assembly and retying my legs. The rickety crane laboriously hoists me and the dark skinned man about fifty metres up into the air over the water. He is trying to make friendly conversation in pidgin English as we rise, asking questions such as,

‘Do you like here? and Where from you?’

‘Yes. Tasmania, in Australia’

As I speak the view around me opens up to reveal lush green jungle. The ground slowly drops away taking with it my ability to maintain casual conversation, it is all right for this guy, he only has a commercial interest in the fraying straps around my legs, mine is much more personal. At least the centre is empty so there is no one to hear me scream like a little girl. My mind throws up a random image of a lone spacecraft orbiting earth; ‘In space, no one can hear you scream.’ The crane shudders to an unconvinced halt but I continue shuddering as I look down. Near the car park I see a group of drunk but beautifully tanned tourists materialise from the kiosk, apparently in Thailand there is always someone to hear you scream.

I must look quite a sight up on that ledge, last night I checked out my skinny frame in the mirror. Twenty-eight days of hard trekking at altitude has left my face dark above a snow white torso, I am now long bearded with very unkempt hair. In short I would be able to scare small children without breaking a sweat. At least I am starting to look like a footloose traveler, if not always acting the part. I force all thoughts of breaking bungy cord out of my mind and instead focus on executing a graceful swan dive. I look down, trust that Ameshi has not left me, gulp and jump.

Despite trying to keep all my openings clenched, at mid-plummet I let out a little squeak of fear. Two weightless seconds later the cord grabs and slows my fall. A few upside down bounces stills me, hanging by my feet over the dirty water. My head fills with blood and I can feel a rapid pulse pounding in my temples as I wait for the crane to lower me onto the jetty. Once safely on the platform and full of adrenaline I let the man talk me into doing another jump, this time in reverse.

My feet are tethered firmly as I stand next to the pond, the bungy cord is attached by a hefty harness to my chest and slowly extended by raising the crane platform, I hear my back cracking as the strain increases. My feet are now hovering about two inches above the ground and I can feel a great deal of the tension in the rope through my legs. The little Thai man counts down aloud from five and pulls the knot around my feet on,


But nothing happens.

He looks up at me with a bemused expression before crouching down to inspect the knot more closely. He yanks the rope a few times and looks up at me apologetically as I bob up and down slightly. He then gives one final big pull and falls backwards. I do not see him complete this fall as I suddenly launch up towards the top of the crane. Somewhat surprised by this sudden departure I yell all the way, my yell turns into a laugh then into manic chuckling as I run out of breath.

Back to the hotel and feeling somewhat proud to have achieved something, even a very touristy something, I check that my room is still in order before braving the gauntlet of alleys that lead to the beach. I dodge lady boys and massage parlours to find an Irish pub free from molestation. A few hours are spent sipping beer and watching a steady parade of fat tourists with their young girlfriends. Thinking about the bungy I mentally pat myself on the back and feel totally relaxed, ready to scuba dive the next day.

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This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

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