I’m finally sat still, not on a bus or walking up a mountain. Instead I’m sat in a Dhampus teahouse after a 6-7 hour trek (that only took us 5!!). But more about that later, first I’ll tell you about the time I leapt from a bridge 160 metres above a canyon.
Not content with surviving a mountain flight in a plane no bigger than a kiddies ride on Weston-Super-Mare pier, I decided to risk my life further by doing a Canyon Swing at The Last Resort. The centre is Nepal’s leading action sports centre and their swing is the biggest/second biggest/third biggest in the world depending on who you talk to. It has 7.5 seconds of free fall, which I’m assured is a lot.
The first challenge of the day was surviving the journey there. It’s north of Kathmandu, near the Tibetan borders, along roads that wind dangerously around the mountains. And the drivers LOVE to overtake on corners. We stopped five times for the border police to check that we’re not trying to smuggle anything or anyone over the border into Tibet, before we arrived at the resort three hours later.
The second challenge was walking across the bridge to the resort, it’s the very same one I was about to jump off. Tim did a (smaller) canyon swing in New Zealand a few years ago and hated it. And he didn’t seem very happy at the prospect of being so close to another one. His nerves got to me and I soon felt that telltale upside down stomach feeling. Great.
Still I couldn’t back out, mustn’t back out. If that wimp managed it, I certainly could.
Once at the resort, we were called up individually to get weighed. They wrote the number on our hands (potentially more traumatic than the swing itself), plus either a B for bungee or S for swing. Then we were split into three groups based on our weights. The lightest people and anyone doing the swing were in the first group. I was in that group for both reasons.
The final challenge… Or so I thought.
Once on the bridge we peered over the edge, it was high. Real high. Higher than it looks in the videos. I was called forward first as I was the lightest. The friendly and calm ‘harness putter oner’ got me safely strapped in. Just as he started leading me to the edge I noticed someone was called forward for the swing – only they were getting into a different harness. Hmm…
I quickly asked if I was in the right harness for the swing. I was not. Back of the queue for me.
It was all boys on the bridge and I chatted to an Ozzie who had already annoyed me on the bus. (He was sat on the backseat with his friend when three Dutch girls got on the bus. ‘Here we go’ they said, as one moved to the other side of the backseat, leaving the girls to sit awkwardly in the middle). Then we spoke to some Israeli boys. Now they are some funny people. Still I couldn’t help but wish there was another girl up there, not sure why exactly, but I did. Just then, two girls walked along the bridge and joined the group, I was at the back and they smiled as they saw me. Must be a girl thing.
I wasn’t nervous on the bridge, but I couldn’t imagine jumping off it. When my turn came I got strapped in and headed for the platform. I flew silently through the air (or plummeted to the ground like a dead body, in Tim’s words). The air hit my face and for a few seconds I was higher than the rope that was attaching me to the bridge – eeks. This is when I realised I was falling. And as soon as I realised that, the swing kicked in and I was flying through the air like Tarzan.
When the swing stopped, a rope appeared as if by magic and I dragged myself to a step ladder, this was not as easy as they made it sound in the safety talks. Nor was the strenuous stumble back up the mountain. It nearly killed me. My heart was racing and my legs were like jelly, the walk was almost directly up. Up 160 meters. Ouch.
As you may have guessed, I did survive the walk (aka the real challenge). But it was by far the hardest part of the day. At the top, me and Tim sat in the shade and talked to Emilie, a Danish girl who was waiting for her boyfriend, Thomas, to do his bungee. They’d been trekking for 8 days and ended at the resort, it made me wish we were doing 8 days instead of the 3 we had scheduled in. They’d also been in India previously, so we got lots of tips ready for the next stop on our world tour. Yes!!!
We had lunch with them – lots of lunch – and we ate our first meat of the trip, buffalo burger. It was so much nicer than a beef burger, not so strong flavoured and perfectly seasoned. The buffet had pastas, salad, potatoes and veg. And it was all you can eat.
Tim had a ‘go and see pass’, which cost $15 with lunch included. He certainly made his money back on the lunch, but the viewing platform is a bit rubbish. You can only see the beginning of the jump, but not the swing, as per Tim’s video below. (I’ve also attached a video of the whole swing, it’s not me in it though as my video jumped a lot so I didn’t buy it).
After lunch we sat and watched the world go by at the retreat, whilst we waited for the last group to jump. If you get the chance to go, I recommend staying over as it looked beautiful. And whilst I’m recommending things, I would advise you choose the swing over the bungee. The bungee looked vomit-inducing, the people plummeted to the ground, bounced and then span uncontrollably. The people who did both the swing and the jump all said the swing was better. The spinning made them feel dizzy and sick, and with the swing you get to feel like Tarzan and take in an amazing view of the canyon. Ah oh ah oh ah.
Anyway the electricity has just gone off in our little mountain shack, so I’m going to enjoy some food by candle light and enjoy our view of the mountains. As Tim would say, it’s gert lush.
[Vimeo<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/51343033″>canyon swing, the last resort, Kathmandu.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user13442673″>Tim Ewins</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>]