Tall things make me nervous. Tall people are still fine, but put me forty-seven metres off the ground on a bungee jumping ledge and I’ll certainly retreat to the comfort of the nearest railing or bathroom. You know, whichever is closest.
I’m no adrenaline junkie. Far from it, actually. I wouldn’t even tease the idea of a high-speed rollercoaster, which has left many of my theme park escapades filled with spinning teacups and kiddy carousel rides. Make fun of me all you want, but I’d take sitting on a plastic horse over an aerial descent any day of the week. It all makes a bungee experience (S$89) at AJ Hackett Sentosa a thoroughly unlikely pairing for this acrophobic writer.
A proud purveyor of ‘extreme sports’, AJ Hackett does seem to embody everything I so fiercely repel. There’s a whole slew of activities for the gutsy and fearless, from walks along the edge of a skyscraper to more brief endeavours like freefalling off one.
It’s stuff you see Tom Cruise attempting in Mission Impossible, and I’m more than eager to leave these affairs in the cinema. But in the spirit of stepping out of comfort zones, a visit to AJ Hackett’s local daredevil attraction is due.
Oh, the things I do for an article.
It’s only apt to bring you along with me for the day of my bungee jump. My mornings aren’t usually this stressful, nor do I typically wake up before nine. But this isn’t any normal morning to begin with. It’s one which I’ve marked out in my calendar two weeks before with big fat exclamation marks and sweaty-faced emojis. Yes, I vicariously show my emotions through text.
The first order of business—breakfast. What should one eat when already stuffed with fear and having his nerves cruelly tested? I find solace in a bowl of wanton noodles and an accompanying cup of coffee.
Let’s not go down the food review path for this one, there’s enough on my plate as is. The jump’s scheduled at 4.30 pm, so the next eight hours will be nothing short of stomach-churning, heart-palpitating goodness.
Editorial lunchtime is here, but I’m skipping the meal today. This is everyone’s favourite part of the day, so you know how great a sacrifice it is for me to sit this one out. bungee jumping has taken away my appetite, or maybe it’s the noodles I had before.
Either way, food is the furthest thing from my mind. At this juncture, I’m running scenarios in my mind for the imminent jump—Will I pass out? What if the harness snaps? I don’t know why I’m scaring myself silly, but as I’ll soon find out, being scared is half the fun.
I’m typing away on my keyboard furiously as if it’s any other afternoon in the office. Work does help to take my mind off things, though the idea that 3 hours from now I’d be leaping off a building is quite intrusive.
AJ Hackett’s local jump site is everything I feared and more. It’s a towering crane-like facade that looms over Siloso beach, where views from the top make beach umbrellas look like insects.
The crowd here doesn’t look the timid sort either, there are energetic millennials darting about, and fit bodies clad in shorts and sandals, indulging in some heated beach volleyball action. I’m desperately out of place.
Still, a reluctant registration is due. Keying in my particulars does feel a little digging-my-own-grave-esque, as I begin to regret pitching for this experience in the first place.
I’m registered and assessed, and to show for it, there are slashings of ink over my hand. A ‘First Class’ flight ticket accompanies my belongings, but I must admit I much rather be on a budget flight to Bangkok right now.
I’m awaiting my call-up anxiously like a soldier at war. Folks are flying down from the sky in blazingly quick, upside-down fashion as they pummel toward a pool of water in the ground. You know, things you see every Monday.
My jump’s queued up till 5.30 pm, and if there’s one thing worse than jumping now, it’s jumping later. Looks like it’s another one hour of painful anticipation. I find much-needed respite in AJ’s Bar and Beach Dining, where some self-reflection and calming of nerves is due. Hey, I even wore my lucky socks for this bungee jump.
Let’s circle back later.
5.30 pm (The Jump)
The time is now. A lift brings me up to a platform on the seventeenth floor. The precariously large number of floors doesn’t help. Yet, I know the same lift isn’t available to me on the way down. For that, I’ll take the scenic route.
On the platform, there are jumpmasters working at full crank, deftly handling their pulley systems, clicky carabiners, and heavy cables to boot. These individuals aren’t certified jumpmasters until they manage a hundred jumps themselves. That does make me feel a little more at ease.
Strapping on the harness is akin to me sealing my own fate. I can’t turn back now. Lest I dive into more cliches of life-changing moments and all that buzz, a much more physical dive awaits. For brevity’s sake, I’m scared out of my wits.
I know what you’re thinking—how safe is bungee jumping? To be perfectly candid, I don’t know. My advice? Leave the technicalities to the jumpmasters, and focus on getting off the ledge yourself. That’s all my mental capacity can handle at the moment, anyway.
Here comes the hardest part—walking to the ledge. Well, my ankles are wrapped in thick towels and brazenly secured, so perhaps waddling is more accurate. I’m nudging toward the edge, past the assurance of two metal railings. This all feels too audacious. What would my mother say?
I’m standing at the ledge, thick with fear. For those similarly plagued with a fear of heights, here’s a rookie mistake not to make—peeking downward. After all, the ground is forty-seven metres away, so it is an unnerving sight.
I won’t discount the beauty of it all though, as the scenery at the top comes wonderfully empowered by distant shores and a flurry of ships at sea. If you’re lucky, a sunset is even more visually entrancing.
5.40 pm, I think. Who knows anymore?
Snapping me back to reality is the voice of the jumpmaster. A quickening heart rate and deep breaths are all standard procedure here. My arms are raised outward in a T-pose that screams all forms of desperation and resignation.
“5… 4… 3… 2… 1… BUNGEE!”
I didn’t put much thought into it. Like an obedient dancer, it’s just easier to follow the count of the instructor, and I’m off with a small bunny hop. No, this isn’t that game in primary school where we take turns leaping off a small flight of stairs. You’d half expect your feet to touch something, but this is an unabashed freefall we’re talking about.
I’m weightless and shooting into the ground, with the sand, the pool, and the concrete all rushing toward me at full force. I want to scream, but the air is gushing into my lungs, rendering me speechless. Are human bodies supposed to move at this speed? It’s an incredible stomach-caving acceleration that throws your heart out.
And just as quick as my descent, a powerful tug flings me back up as I’m converted into a mid-air ragdoll of sorts, simply flailing about to where the rope beckons me. This is a giant pendulum, and I’m the dangling bob at the end of a spring. The world is all spinning around in my sight—Sentosa never looked so psychedelic.
Now comes another grappling test of orientation and composure. An instructor at the bottom reaches out with a long pole to grab onto. It’s a reassuring point of contact between floating me and another human. I eagerly cling on and am reeled back onto a plush mat on ground level. Ah, this is what solid ground feels like.
It’s not until I’m stumbling toward my belongings that I realised, that’s the end of it. As scared as I may have been, the bungee jump is now a clean, convincing check off my list of been-there-done-thats. Some rest and collection of self are in order, as the reality of leaping off a tower sets in.
How do I feel? Well, my heart is still beating like a double-time swing in Whiplash, but the nerves are gone. There’s relief and a tinge of personal pride washing over me. Not too shabby for someone who is scared of heights, if I do say so myself.
I exit AJ Hackett with my head slightly spinning, my orientation a little skewed, and my spirits overall lifted as compared to the time of my arrival. Now’s time for some rest and relaxation, where there shall be no more jumps, freefalls, or rapid descents of any sort.
Three hours have passed since then, and ‘home sweet home’ never rang truer. I’ll reward myself with an early night. It’s not every day that I come home after falling off seventeen floors and lived to tell the tale. Of course, the bottom line comes down to this—do I have any regrets?
To that, I give a resounding no. I’m definitely not about to sign myself up for another go, but I have AJ Hackett to thank for this bungee jumping experience that left me a little more accomplished, a little braver, and a whole lot more exhilarated.
Price: $ $ $
AJ Hackett Sentosa
30 SILOSO BEACH WALK, SENTOSA ISLAND, SINGAPORE 099011
AJ Hackett Sentosa
30 SILOSO BEACH WALK, SENTOSA ISLAND, SINGAPORE 099011