We need to find ways to cool off in summer! Splashing on a beach? Snorkelling on the sea? Been there, done that. But rafting and bungee jumping over a river are uncharted waters (pun intended) to me!
So, on a hot summer weekend, we ventured out to the northern countryside of Korea to look for the source of the Nile River, er, rather Han River. We found the Hantan River, instead, on its path meandering across the sleepy rice county of Cheorwon, which is located at the South-North Korean border. As the bridge crossing the river was high enough for a bungee jumping stall to be set up, somebody did just that. A brilliant idea....to the ones who fear no heights, that is. So, for an equivalent of US$35, you have the chance to duplicate the act of flying without wings. Or, perhaps, to duplicate Nadia Comaneci's flight over the uneven bars, without her perfect score of 10, of course. Not everybody signed up to bungee jump though.
If you think too much, your excitement to bungee jump usually gets the better of you because once you are standing on the ledge, about to take the plunge of your life and looking down on the empty expanse of space and height, with nothing but murky waters (and a man on a small boat to fish you out after) awaiting below, you suddenly will say, "What the eff was I thinking?!" Ha-ha-ha!
Not one, not two, but almost every other bungee-jumper, froze in shock, unable to move, looking down in fear, or perhaps looking up cursing the heavens, overwhelmed by a sudden fear of experiencing the emotions of not knowing what would transpire if he or she took a step off the ledge to let the law of gravity apply. I was one of those frozen jumpers. Ha-ha-ha! Frozen, for just a silly moment.
I did not let fear get the better of me, but for a moment, it did, though unwelcome. I was there to have fun and to experience flight without having to buy a plane ticket. Presence of mind was key. 'Fun', 'fun', 'fun' was always juggling in my mind, although two other 'F' words were playing along, too. One of them was 'Fear'. The other was ....you know what the other was. Ha-ha-ha!
For the hapless jumpers all prepped and ready, but who suddenly went numbed and muted, a simple funny question from the bungee equipment staff saved their day, or in this case, their jump: "Do you want me to push you?" Though shocked and embarrassed as they were, a single-syllabled response from their throats choking in fear usually emerged: "Yes". And most often, they forgot to say "Please". Ha-ha-ha!
One guy, stood there for about five minutes, unable to move, unable to decide, unable to say 'Yes', though we all knew he wanted to. It was very easy to poke fun at and tease him, but alas, we were next in line and we wouldn't know if the same gargantuan terror would eat us up and rob us of all faculties. Luckily, none of us duplicated his scene. Whew!
And it was not at all quiet, as the bungee-jump stall had loudspeakers blasting dance music all day long. The music was so loud it drowned your prayers, and along with it, your thoughts of backing out.
And ………..I jumped!
Embracing the empty expanse with open arms, I felt my heart skip a couple of beats and saw the horizon, the houses from afar and then the murky brown river below, which got closer and closer to my face. Then boing! I became the subject of the tug-of-war between the bungee cord and gravity, pulling me up and down, then up and down again, several times until the latter eventually won. Like an outdoor laboratory experiment, my jump proved once more the law of gravity: whatever goes up, must come down, with or without a bungee cord. With the exhilaration of an F1 driver and the free-falling sensation of a skydiver, not to mention the fear that if the bungee cord snaps, off I dropped into the brown river to get a taste of that dirty water. Yikes!
The next question is: will I do it again? Hmmm...maybe. That jump was just about 50 meters. I would like something higher. Like 51. Ha-ha-ha!
(Two of the photos above courtesy of Adventure Korea)