Imagine standing on the edge of a long platform jutting out from the side of a cliff. Then imagine peering over a 45-metre drop, harness around your waist, attached to which is a thick blue cord that’s coiled in a heap behind you like a dormant python. The fall you’re about to take lasts around five seconds and you’ll be traveling between 50 and 60 km/h.
I use the word “imagine” of course because that’s exactly what I had to do. Unfortunately – and few people know this – I was born with an acute form of what is actually quite a common affliction: cowardice.
Bungee jumping at Sante X-sport Center in Baiyun Mountain has been around for over a decade and since then there hasn’t been a shortage of people, so far over 70,000 willing to throw themselves off the cliff-face jib.
Modern bungee jumping as we know it today actually started on April 1 (Fool’s Day) 1979. A group of people from the Oxford University Dangerous Sport Club, impressed by a film about an ancient “vine-jumping” tradition originating from an island in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, jumped off a 245-foot high suspension bridge in England.
Understandably, instead of vines they used braided nylon and rubber shock cord. Inevitably the troupe were arrested but their pioneering stunt git the world press the next day.
Yet, why do we continue to jump today? Sante X-sport Center manager Li Gang believes that “most of the participants take it as a self-challenge. And there are a range of parents bringing their children to bungee jump, trying to train their children to be brave.”
And if you feel the need to test yourself, or your terrified child for that matter, there are two main ways to do it. First, there’s single jumping which involves a person being secured around the waist and shoulders or just around the ankles (think classic swan dive.) Second, is double jumping…a surprisingly popular activity for couples of Valentine’s Day.
I managed to catch Alex, a 33-year-old from North London was only in Guangzhou “visiting friends.” He said, “Even though I felt safe, when you’re up there every single cell in your body is saying, ‘what are you doing, what are you doing?” It was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life, but also the most fun.”
It would be irresponsible of us here at the magazine not to mention any potential health risks associated with the sport. As stated on one of the information panels: “People with heart disease, high blood pressure, cerebral haemorrhage and pregnant woman are not suggested to do bungee jumping. People under 35kg or over 110kg are not allowed to join.” There is a somewhat thorough health examination prior to jumping which includes a blood pressure check and a weigh-in.
A word to the wise before you get to strap in and soar. There are innumerable steps to conquer from the park entrance to the jumping ticket office, so bring plenty of water and wear a comfy pair of shoes.
When you finally make it, the introduction board has no qualms in telling you: “The 5 seconds in the jumping process will be the most thrilling and irritating, longest and unforgettable moment in your life. Friends, please try once bravely!” Oh, and as an added incentive, if you’re half way along the crane and chicken out, there’s no refund.