So back in 2009, me and my sister did our very first bungee jumps together in Queenstown, New Zealand. Since then I’ve needlessly thrown myself off various structures in the name of adrenaline but Nat hasn’t and as soon as we’d confirmed that we’d be meeting up in Nepal to walk up a massive fucking hill she went out and got herself a Lonely Planet which advised her that there just so happened to be a company that would help you with all of your ambitions with regards to chucking yourself head first from a bridge attached by the ankles to a bit of elastic not much wider than your wrist. The day after Nat landed we were sat on a bus being transported three hours away from Nepal’s capital to Tatopani, not far from the Tibetan border through kilometres of stunning Nepali scenery which Nat couldn’t really take in on account of not having the benefit of 6 months being transported around narrow roads by a driver with little or no concept of road safety. I don’t think she’d ever been in a vehicle that took blind corners that quickly before.
But we made it in one piece as I had every confidence that we would do and rocked up to The Last Resort where we jumped out of the bus and made our way across the bridge over Bhote Kosi, the very suspension bridge we’d be jumping off in a matter of hours. Oh. Well. Yes, that’s really rather high up isn’t it. All of my internal organs huddled together for protection and my muscles kinda went, “What the actual fuck are you planning now?!” Nat was even worse, I’ve spent the last nine years or so trying to overcome my inherent fear of heights and whilst I’m not totally 100% there yet, Nat might as well have been walking along a high wire without a safety net. The double hard military bitch that casually tells stories of hitting the dust in Afghanistan as rockets land around her didn’t even want to walk across the bridge, never mind stop for a selfie or be strapped up and herded towards the edge of the platform they’d purpose-built in the middle.
Anyway. We were all grouped together and briefed on how to relieve your general being of a platform to stand on, and then there was the weighing. Tubs here doesn’t normally like to talk about getting weighed, but it turned out I’d lost 6kgs since I’d left the UK and I’d no fucking idea how given that my diet was made up of beer, Hello to the Queens, curries rich enough to give the whole of Wales coronary disease, and various deep fried substances purchased from street stalls with dubious hygiene levels. And and and! I was only 3kgs heavy than my sister! This never happens. Seriously, like, never! Never have our weights been so close but to be fair, Nat consists of bone, water and solid muscle and I’m primarily composed of tits and cheesecake, but hey, I’ll take whatever I can get. So we were divided into groups and despite our almost matching weights which I will ever cease to be utterly smug about, we were split up. Nat made her way onto the bridge first but she was at the back of the queue whilst I joined the group to the side of the bridge watching human after human plummet out of sight, often whilst letting out a blood curdling scream.
The worst thing about bungee jumping is the waiting. It all seemed to take forever as my wills did battle with my sphincter muscle to keep it in check. Eventually the rest of the people were called onto the bridge. Nat still hadn’t jumped yet and the guy in front of me was all but having a nervous breakdown, bless him. He was only here because his mates had insisted, he really really didn’t want to do it and when he gathered his nerves, took a deep breath and jumped first time the whole bridge cheered him on. I was shitting it a bit too, all that waiting. Seriously. This was the last fucking time I go on holiday with my sister, and if we ever do again I’ll insist on something way less traumatic, such as cage-less shark diving or poking death adders with sticks. Eventually she jumped, and about what seemed like an hour after that, exacerbated by the fact I was fucking starving and all rational though tends to exit stage left when I’m hungry, it was my turn.
Right. Bring it on. And with haste please, sir. Let’s get this shit over with. They sat me down and asked me if I wanted a Go Pro strapped to my head to film my mush which I agreed to on account of the fact this was my fourth bungee and I literally had no fucking idea if I ever had my eyes open or closed when I did shit like this. A chap with a camera said things to me designed to get me to say stuff he could later edit into the video I was to pay handsomely for. No idea what I said. It probably wasn’t coherent. And once my ankles were firmly strapped together I was helped to my feet and I ducked under the bar to the platform where I made my way to the edge, closely resembling a terrified angler fish. Seriously. I doesn’t matter how many times I do this it still always feels like the contents of my lower intestines are going to try and escape through my arse in viscous form right before I jump. And clearly I wasn’t close enough to the edge for the bloke’s liking, the bastard kicked my heels to move me further forwards and as the countdown started, something took over. I don’t even know what, it couldn’t have been instinct, instinct would have had me retreating backwards and heading for the bar for a bottle of vodka and a straw.
I can’t actually recall the moment I jumped for any of the jumps I’ve done. I know they happened because a) there’s video evidence and b) there’s no other way I’d have found myself bouncing upside down underneath a fucking bridge. I remember the split second after the jump though, the free fall, and this, my friends, is the part that makes it all worth it. Just as you’re stood on the bridge swearing to any deity currently in the vicinity that you were never going to put yourself through this ever a-fucking-gain, as you plunge towards the ground, the exhilaration coursing through every fibre of your being, you realise that this won’t be the last time you scare the living crap out of yourself in exchange for a large sum of money.
And yes I fucking screamed. Of course I screamed. People who don’t scream when they jump 160 metres into a canyon are probably sociopaths and you should maybe avoid sitting next to them at lunch in case they try to season your chips with arsenic. Fact. The only problem with this particular bungee is the fact that you’re left hanging upside down for half your life as they lower you down to the ground. Humans, it turns out, do not like being upside down. It upsets our eyeballs. By the time I was lying down as the staff unstrapped me, I felt like all of the blood in the world was in my cranium and trying to exit through my eye sockets. Nat had waited for me so we could climb what felt like 7000 steps to the top together then it was straight to the buffet for lunch.
Guys. Seriously. The food. It was incredible. I was just about that that stage where I was craving good Western food. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating local. I enjoyed scaring my immune system in filthy dhabas in India, and challenging my tastebuds with new and exciting foods as I moved from state to state. The discovery of the masala dosa ranks up there with the cure for cancer, and I was pretty sure that me and the Nepali dhal bhat would become the best of culinary buddies over the following three months. But right now? Give me perfectly cooked pasta and meat patties. I’d been gagging for a pile of crunchy steamed vegetables that had never seen batter or a vat of oil. I wanted food that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Brighton and I wanted it in abundance. This place delivered, I was so happy. I love food. Give it to me. All of it. I celebrated my recent weight loss by cramming as much of it into my digestive system as possible.
So there’s this overnight option which we went for on account of the fact I wanted to go canyoning the next day. To be honest though, even if you don’t have anything planned its just an awesome place to spend the night. Dinner is included which was also an incredible all you can eat buffet and there’s a bar where you can sooth your shattered nerves at the expense of your liver. Accommodation is in tents, but not the kind of tent where you lie awake all night wondering if it’s water/wind/wildlife proof. They’re these big canvas things you can stand up in and we had a camp bed each which was actually quite comfortable. They even gave us towels. And the toilet roll was so lovely and soft I had to resist the urge to cram as much as I could into my bag to take around Nepal with me.
The following morning we woke up and I felt like my eyeballs were bruised and my brain had come loose. That’s the last time I spend more than a few seconds upside down, just tying my shoe laces hurt. And yep, there was the usual array of awesomeness for breakfast with staff cooking omelettes to order. God I loved this place. If we didn’t have to climb up a big hill in a matter of days and if I was, y’know, made of money I don’t think I’d have left for a while. Not that it’s not worth the money. It very much is. I would say The Last Resort is very reasonably priced for what you get.
But anyway, we were waiting for a Frenchman called Julien to join us from Kathmandu which was nice because I didn’t really fancy doing anything particularly active after the quantity of scram I’d just consumed. Nat settled onto a sun lounger with a book because she had no intention of doing anything involving water, and once Julien had made it we were kitted up in wetsuits, helmets, harnesses and a rather fetching glove. I like gloves. They kinda make me feel like I know what I’m doing despite having two tenths of fuck all of an idea. We were lead to the first waterfall and shown how it all worked. Now this wasn’t like in Palolem where you had to remember which hand did what and if you forgot and let go with the wrong hand you’d plummet a couple of metres and slap into the water. These guys had our backs. They kept the rope tight enough so we could let go with both hands whilst rappelling and we’d just stay where we were. Sweet. This pleased me because actually, I find bungee jumping less scary than walking backwards down a cliff face.
It was a lovely morning filled with waterfalls and abseiling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the guys were really cool too.
When I booked all of this I was told that they didn’t have transport back to Kathmandu but there’d be local buses. We were pretty happy with this option to be honest. They’d warned us that we weren’t guaranteed a seat and might have to stand up for some of it and that it had the potential to be crowded, but I was quite used to public transport and Nat’s no princess. One of the guys joined us on the road to help us flag down the right bus, told the guy where we were going, paid him and we were ushered to the front of the bus where, in typical Nepali style, passengers were rearranged to make space for the newcomers. This is where being average height helps a lot. I’m okay crammed into a bus but Nat’s a lanky streak of piss and her knees were pretty much round her ears, and if she thought the journey here was terrifying, it was nothing on this. The front probably wasn’t the best place for her, she could see every single oncoming vehicle trying to occupy the same space as the bus until the last possible second as our driver, whose steering wheel was bigger than he was, replaced actual breaking with leaning on his horn. I think whatever nerves she hadn’t left scattered around the suspension bridge at the resort were well and truly shattered beyond repair every time the bus cornered.
Anyway. Welcome to Nepal, Nat. The bungee jump didn’t kill us. Let’s hope this freakishly big hill we’d decided to walk up, despite the fact I have the fitness level of a chain smoking sloth, doesn’t.
Bonus: This link (photo below) leads out to the Flickr hosted video of my bungy. I don’t think you can hear the screaming but rest assured I howled like I just got in from work and discovered that someone had nicked the last beer from the fridge.
Tatopani, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal
Stayed at: The Last Resort
Activity: Bungy jumping and canyoning with The Last Resort