My First Bungee Jump

Yesterday was a long and tiring day for me, indeed. I had my very first bungee jump! Not only did I enjoy the countryside adventure but also relished food with much gusto.

JM & N brought me to Shidu, a two-hour smooth ride from Beijing. J picked me up at 7:30 in the morning in his silver Santana car. Then, we met N & M at Liulichao who were waiting for us in their red Toyota car. N & J were arguing who is a better driver so they could decide which car I should be in. The argument was endless so M decided that he’ll stay with J because they are both smokers. And smoke they did all throughout the trip.

Our eyes feasted on majestic rocky mountains on our way to this place known for its river and bungee jumping activity. The mountain tops were like pointed aspirals that some of them look like gothic-designed churches. This place earned a monicker, “little Guilin,” referring to a touristy place in the South of this country known for its lush greenery, crystal water, ethnic peps and—of course— mountains that you never see anywhere in the world. Or, if you have seen the movie with Edward Norton and Naomi WattsThe Painted Veil, then, that’s it.

I’ve been to Shidu before—in October, but the fog spoilt the experience. Yesterday was, again, foggy but I’m determined to jump on a 75-meter high cliff down to the quiet river.

Wedding Pictorials
Using nature’s spledid view, a lot of young couples were scattered into different areas of the lake for wedding pictorials. Women were dressed up in jeans underneath their white gowns. As an observer from a distance, I can see that the photos are made to appear romantic, ideal and nature-friendly (perhaps).

JMN, told me that most of these young brides and grooms are from rural China who can’t afford the glitzy photos of studio shots.

My first bungee jump

I admit that I was a sissy when I stood up there and looked down on the ravine. It made me shiver and my legs were wobbling ready to be rushed for a knee surgery. jumped first, then and finally me. was so corpse cold before jumping while was so corpse pale almost ready to collapse. But the best side of me, who kept on motivating them to do it, convinced them to finally jump which they later described as a suicide attempt.

N was our photographer.

I was goddamned scared, people!

And when it was my turn. I can’t even look down the river, let alone release my hand from the rail. It was so coward of me that it took the men in-charge of the jump 5 minutes to convince me but to take the plunge. The boys were already shouting and encouraging me to do it just like I did to them. My mind was already rushing with a lot of things, including death. The bungee announcer, through his microphone, made it known to all tourists (whose heads were tilting up and mouth blabbering exclamatory words) that a Philippine citizen is next to jump. Then, to the dismay of my audience, I decided to take a longer moment and told the men in charge to let the girl on the other side of the platform to jump first.

I moved back to my seat and relaxed for a while.

My mind was racing again with dreadful thoughts. I just can’t give up at that moment. Aside from the fact that people are waiting for me to jump, I thought of what my students would say—that I don’t do what I say. It dawned on me that I’m fed up with people who called me coward, sissy all my life. If I’d jump, I’d prove them wrong. And if I’d still be alive after, I convinced myself that there’s nothing I can’t do next. I’ll do it for myself and not for others.

It was in these moments that somebody tapped my shoulder and said in stupid English but admirable ego-booster, “Time jump now afraid not, ok?”

…and then I plunged into the abyss of the open air… 

Bouncin’ and swingin’ to and fro…

…and halt…

When I stood up again on the plank edge, I don’t remember anything what I had just been thinking. As soon I released my hands off the rail, I submitted myself to the air, hands sideward like I was a flying avis. I shouted at the top of my lungs but I didn’t even hear my own voice. Once the rope bounced me up, the fear just went away and I can’t help myself but decided to enjoy the moments of bouncing back and forth.

…getting the grip…

The jump only took seconds but the feeling was both rare and unexplainable. I was at loss of words and when my students asked me to describe how I felt, I simply put, “awesome.” But the simplicity of such word and feeling, made their eyes looked back at me—then I realized, they did not understood the adjective. Gosh, they had just spoilt the feeling I had by letting me unlock to them the definition of the word.

Our lunch was consist of six dishes, mostly stuff we got from the river. My fave was the barbecued fish with a little chili.

Horse Riding
Right after we half-devored our meal, we went on horse riding. This is another first time of my life. I chose the youngest male horse which the owner claimed as a descendant of Kubla Khan’s horses. Whew, interesting fact, isn’t it?

So, you thought I can’t ride a horse? 

We toured around the nearby mountainous region and crossed the river. We were surprised to see that some farmers there are herding sheeps and most of these animals are free to roam the mountains unwatched. A lot of them are climbing up the rocks as if they’re infants who are rock climbing unaware of the dangers.

We went up the boulders where interesting rock formations are breath-taking. Some look like animals, humans and even a flower! They’ve got a rare stone there which they claimed as 250 million years old. The hour and a half ride cost us a little fortune but it was worth it—despite the buttache we all felt after.

I’m not sure of the town’s name but this is Beijing’s #5 Most Beautiful Country in 2006. This too, is where N lives whose father is the most respected man in the village with 1400 people. I really wonder why they have to use the word beautiful when in fact, there’s not much to see there but vegetables planted and housed under warm roofs. When N’s father discussed about the village’s income which was transparently posted outside his office, I concluded that it should be “Most Productive Country” instead of the misleading description.

The statue is the trophy which N’s father received at the pompous ceremony in BTV two months ago.

Going back to Beijing
Heaven was crying buckets of tears when we went home. The plan was: N will drop M to his house in the next town and J and me will be the ones to go back to Beijing.

…but when J’s stepfather called him and invited us to a have dinner, nobody said, no. There, we ate 15 dishes for dinner, too much for the already full four of us. But since J’s old man insisted tha we order more, we had no choice but got more strange dishes we ate for the first time. In China, it is disrespectful to say no.

And after such sumptuous meal, an already paid massage services on the second floor awaited us. After a long and exhausting day, a good massage would be great.

After the beauty indulgence, M and N decided to call their respective mothers that they would prefer to stay the night at J’s place because it’s getting dark and the weather’s not good. That they were tired to drive going back home would be dangerous– convinced their mothers who warned them not to do bad things with the foreigner! LOL…

The boys assured their freaking moms but we actually had another plan for the night—bar-hopping. Afterall, N and M have never been to a bar before in their 20 years of existence. J, at 18, is a frequent bar-hopper in Houhai Bar District.

The boys were afraid at first and not sure they really wanna do it. But J’s convincing powers won over their long held views about nightlife in bars. The thing that convinced them to go was when I promised them that we would only stay for an hour.

Of course not! One hour? Who would enjoy in such short time? Hello, it’s a holiday!

Since I planned to get them drunk, I told them not to drive the car but we all take a taxi to Sanlitun, a bar district where J’s not familiar with. In the taxi, M and N kept on asking about what to do and what not to do in the bar. They were really naive and have no slightest idea of what it looks like inside. In countable words, I advised them: Just enjoy. Have fun and be yourself.

For starters, I directed the driver to park the car at the threshold of Sanlitun so they would be approached by pimps who are pushy to introduce their “services.” I know that it’s pretty harsh for bar virgins but where on earth can ya find a red light district without pimps barking in the corners?

I brought the boys to Bar Blu first, Beijing’s #1 watering hole for expats. We were surprised to see only few creatures showed up their asses at 10:30 p.m. We were so early then.

So, we went down and checked out Kai Club, Beijing’s premier pub for expats with financial anemia. There I treated them for long island iced tea which they insisted I should choose for them. I know it’s lighter than pure vodka or whisky but I was taking them slowly. They were so amazed at the crowded bar with lotsa wasted white trash dancing with chinese chicks. I urged them to dance but they were so shy that I have to show them my grooves first before they’d be convinced that I meant fun inside the bar. They followed gently and then not too long ater, they owned the dance floor.

After an hour, with our heads a bit dizzy, we hopped on to Shooters, the bar beside Kai Club. Shooters have wilder, nastier foreign hedonists and music was pop which J, M, N could identify with. We banged our heads, stepped on other’s shoes while dancing, bumped butts, screamed, joined the conga and sang our hearts out to the familiar lyrics.

That’s what we all did that we forgot to order our drinks. When it got hotter, we went out all drenched in sweat. I led them back to Bar Blu but the classy young professional environment intimidated them.

J getting along with the band…

I brought them to Swing Bar where a Filipino band is playing. Here, J sang a Chinese current popular rock song to the delight of the audience. We all cheered for him it boosted his ego that he held the mike like a real pro! And he can sing, mind you. At least when he’s drunk, he said.

After that head-banging performance, we stayed a bit for more bottles of beer and margaritas. At 2:00 a.m., I called up a taxi for them. They wanted to stay longer but the words of their mothers were toying in their minds. Once a good son, always a good son. No matter where and which and what circumstances.

My life as a teacher was summarized in what N said before getting in the taxi: “Thanks for release the other side of me that I not know before. I look at my life different today. In bungee jumping this morning, I was scared and almost to said I don’t wan’t to jump but when I watched at you smiling and encouraged me and promised that you also jump, I know I should do it! I today feels so good and I’ll not forget in my mind this.”

Whether it’s the wine working, who cares?

It’s the revealation that counts.

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