[personal profile] niori_1709
Like many people out there, I have a list. It's a list of things to do before I die (a whooping ninety-nine, with sixteen crossed off). Like many people out there, bungee jumping is on there. Another item on there is white water rafting. So when the opportunity to do both came up, I took it.

Interestingly enough, this particular adventure had me backtracking into previous territory. The area where we did it the rafting and bungee jumping is actually in the non- militarized areas of the DMZ. The first thing we did on that half bright, half overcast morning was meet up in Seoul and make the drive to the DMZ. The first stop was the rafting. We drove up to another end of the canyon I visited during my first DMZ trip (for a refresher, go back and read the DMZ part two). It was a wide canyon with a river running through it, and we got onto these big yellow raft on the big, lake-like shore.

Before I begin, let me give you a word of advice- bring a change of clothes...preferably one you're comfortable being wet in. I was an idiot and made that mistake. My rafting trip was spent in wet, heavy jeans ( I at least had enough sense to buy water shoes- another must). I attempted to roll them up, but it was a pointless endeavour. I ended up drenched, and that was before I decided to go for a swim.

So we got ourselves into our rafts, paddles at the ready, and pushed off. In the face of full disclosure, I have to admit that the rafting wasn't what I expected, and thus was a little disappointing. My version of white water rafting and the Korean version of white water rafting are very different. I still had a blast, but it wasn't white water rafting, more like rafting lite. It wasn't enough to make me cross that item off my list.

My favourite part was the river itself. It was absolutely stunning. Green -trees, grass, flowers- not only the banks high above us, but creeping down the side like wallpaper as well. The water was calm in some places and rougher in other, and it made for a less than smooth journey...which was just the way I liked it. Despite the crazy uncomfortable life jacket, helmet that didn't fit at all, and the very not a boat, I still closed my eyes and pictured myself elsewhere. I pictured myself sailing down the Anduin in a boat of Elvish make. I pictured myself on a boat to Hogwarts, excited for my sorting. I pictured myself on a river heading to a mysterious plateau to explore rumours of prehistoric monsters. Basically, I let my imagination run wild. I put myself in my favourite things.

Besides my journey into dream land, there were quite a few other things I enjoyed. A raft full of cool people, where we just chilled and got to know each other in a healed atmosphere. We weren't the only raft, and not the only group. It was a bust place, with a ton of Korean groups as well. With that many people, a water fight was inevitable. It started between using our paddles against another raft in our group. It was only a matter of time before we drew some Koreans in. Let me tell you- middle aged Korean women are fierce.

Remember when I said I was drenched? That's where it all began. It came next when we beached ourselves for a bit of a rest. Rest or not, it wasn't just ten minutes of just lounging around. There was a rock over cropping that went over the water far enough it was safe to jump off. It was about three metres high...which doesn't look all that high from down below, but a hellva lot higher looking down. That said, I called it practice for what was going to come later, and took the plunge.

Before then, it had probably been at least a year since I had gone swimming. It was very hot out (as Korean summers are wont to be) and a beautiful day. The unexpected swim was lovely, jeans and all.

It wasn't the only time I went swimming. Later on, as I'm pretty sure is tradition with boat excursions every where, we rocked back and forth to flip the raft over. Good news- it was freaking hard, so let's congratulate the makers on their safety standards. Eventually, after some serious rocking (I was one of the last ones who managed to hold on!), we got the thing tipped. Tipping into the water really shouldn't have been that fun, but it was.
For all that it was a rain to overturn the thing, getting back into the raft while still in the water was surprisingly easy. All you had to do was grab the rope on the side and pull yourself up, little upper body strength required. Thank God for that, because it would have looked terrible if I was caught floundering like an idiot.

It was a pretty long time before we made another stop, but that was okay. I talked about the beauty of the river already, but I should really mention the water itself as well. It was mostly calm, with a steady but not particularly strong current. It wasn't even necessary for us to paddle most of the time, only when we wanted to go anywhere but straight, or if we hit a rough spot. There were a number of rough spots, definitely white rapids, just not as many as I was expecting...or as rough as I was expecting. While I wish it had been more of a white rapid variety, it was still a great cruise.

Our last stop was on the rocky shore line near the end of the river trail. Koreans are big on their mountains and all the freshness that tends to go with them. Especially the water that comes from a fresh mountain stream. I myself love water from fresh mountain streams. Coming down from a close by mountain, was water from a spring. We stopped to sample it. It might sound cliché, but it was truly cool and refreshing. The water tasted, for a lack of a better word, what I imagine clean to taste. It was freezing, which was great on a hot day (not so much when I got splashed with it).

After a refreshing drink, it was a race to the finish. I mean that literally. The three rafts from our group got back onto the water and lined up side by side. Then, when a whistle went, we all took off. The first group to reach the end won (though there were no prizes to be had, expect gloating rights). We all paddled hard as we could, yelling encouragement. I put my Cadet drill expertise to keep everyone in time. It helped, but heavy paddling for a continued amount of time is no small feat. While we led for a good long time, but alas, we eventually fell behind. All was not lost, for our valiant efforts still brought us in at second place (and a close one, too).

As we hauled the raft out of the water, and up the gangplank and onto a truck (and damn if the thing wasn't heavy), our rafting adventure came to an end. Now came part two of the adventure, and this one, I'm glad to say, didn't disappoint. At all.

Not that far away, there was a bridge over looking a river (possibly the same I was just on). On the side of the bridge, there was a two story building/tower. On top of that tower was a platform. That platform was for bungee jumping.

I steeled myself as I climbed up the twisting metal staircase. I kept telling myself to just keep walking, to take one step at a time. I'm terrified of heights. The entire thing was almost petrifying me, but I kept going. I couldn't turn back, not when there were other people there to do the same. I couldn't stand thinking of myself as a coward, let alone others thinking it. So that, along with my innate badassness, kept me going.

We reached the top, and the first step was getting all the harness equipment on. That made it real, and even more terrifying. The equipment was uncomfortably tight and in the most awkward places. The guy double checked, then triple checked, everything (which I am so very grateful for, since it gave me a little more peace of mind), and then I got in line.

There were about seven of us who were going to do it (and all seven of us did), and I ended up last in line (which was purely coincidental). We all stood there, nervously shuffling and trying to pump ourselves up. We laughed and joked, dealing with the fact we were all nervous as hell. Then, when the first person was up, we fell silent for one moment, before we began cheering her on. It took her awhile, and I don't blame her at all, so we counted down to five for her. When she kept putting off the jump, the guy eventually gave her a push.

The tradition of counting down continued for each jumper. It was a great way to psych yourself up, and no one paused after that first girl. One by one, they went. Being last was both a blessing and a curse. I salute the girl who went first, because I couldn't have done it. With each new person, I was shown 'This is safe!' ... but with each new person, the rope got a little more worn. It was a nerve wracking contradiction.

Then, something happened. When there were maybe three people left in front of me, I stopped shaking. All the nerves, all the worry, faded away. A sense of calm came over me, and I wasn't scared anymore. I guess everything in my just admitted that this was going to happen, so there was no point in stressing over it.

Then, it was my turn. My anxiety was gone, even as I stepped up to the platform. I didn't look down, knowing that that would end me. I put my toes right to the edge, and looked out at the expanse of empty of air I was about to throw myself into. There was only one person left to cheer for me, one of the group guides who wasn't jumping, and she diligently did the countdown for me. I wasn't actually listening, since I needed to prepare on my own.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I told myself if was time to pull a Niori (my alter ego, who is everything I want to be) and face my fear. I was doing this because I was afraid, because courage is doing something despite fear. I counted down from three, only calming breath matched with my heartbeat, and then I jumped.

I'd like to say I was graceful, that I went with a quip or some epic stunt. That would be a lie. I made what had to be the most embarrassing sound I have ever made. Then I wasn't able to make a sound, because after a split second, I was in a free fall. I fell so fast it felt like I was in a hurricane, with the wind roaring in my ears. It felt terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

Then the bungee chord snapped back, and I hated that part. It made my stomach lurch, and it was horrible. The first snap was the worst and the biggest, and that was the part of the experience I despised. Then, after two more smaller jerks, and I was hanging upside down, swaying from side to side, over the river.

Then the laughter started. Full stop, hysterical laughter, brought on by a mix of adrenaline and sheer disbelief that I had just dived into nothing but air with only a rope tied around my waist. I kept laughing, even when the man came out on a boat and got me down. I kept laughing all the was to the bus.

All I could think was 'I did it...I actually did it'. The adrenaline rush from that thought was amazing, let alone when it was added on top of the one from the sheer physicalness. I've never felt that revved up before, so I can completely understand why people become adrenaline junkies. I can't say I blame them.

I stopped giggling, eventually, but kept smiling like a loon basically the whole way home. Why?

One more down. Only eighty-three more to go.



August 2017

27282930 31  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 05:43 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios