Thoughts on PLUMMETING TO MY DEATH – June 23, 2014

This weekend was the wonderful, much-anticipated Team Cal weekend put on by that master of planning Cal Hudson. More than thirty waygook teachers showed up in Dongsong this weekend to participate in virtually every extreme activity that Cherowon boasts. Sadly, I didn’t really get any good pictures, as most of the activities were too perilous for my camera, but I did hand my camera off to a friend for a final activity, and our wonderful guide/mafia boss/Cal’s soccer coach took lots of pictures of everything which he promised to pass on to Cal, and which will hopefully find their way onto facebook eventually. Friday night kicked off with drinks at Cal’s place (ok, I’m lying, some people had dinner, but I was at home napping in preparation for this exhausting weekend.) Followed by a trip to Dongsong’s famous B Turn bar where you can actually order alcohol that is not called Cass or Soju. From there car loads full of people began to arrive and led by our guide/mafia boss/Cal’s soccer coach we migrated over to what turned out to be a pretty questionable noraebang to wait for the rest of the Friday night arrivals. At last, we piled into a bus and made our way out the pension Cal had arranged for us. At 6am the next morning Cal woke us to ask if we wanted to go on a sunrise walk to Jiktang falls to which most people (myself included) responded “Ngh? No!”
At around eight I got up and fortified myself with copious amounts of black coffee and then got directions from Cal to nearest bus stop. It was about a forty minute walk, but I was determined to fetch my camera, which I had accidentally left behind in my apartment. After spending all morning walking to Goeseokjung, busing to Shincheorwon and then repeating the process in reverse, I arrived back at the pension, camera in hand in time to greet the rest of the new arrivals and pile back in the bus for the first event of the day: Survival. Ok, so this seemed like it would be the least exciting event, but it was way more fun than I anticipated. A few minutes after I arrived, and we were being coached on the things we weren’t allowed to do with the paintball guns, I heard a quiet voice behind me say “Hello, teacher” and turned to see one of my students grinning at me. He introduced his dad who also worked at the paintball place. And this is where it pays to support your local businesses, because this student had so much fun watching teacher Jecky get hit by paintballs that every time I was out, he or his dad would say “Die? Die? No, it’s ok!” and wipe the paint off, give me more paintballs and send me back out there. It was glorious. Except the part where I got shot in the head twice. Although even that didn’t really hurt too much at the time. Once we finished the survival games (Team EXO won!), we headed across the street for a friendly soccer match against Cal’s team.Once we were thoroughly worn out from soccer and survival, we headed back across the street and strapped on life jackets and helmets and went river rafting. This probably would have been more fun if out boat hadn’t been crammed full with 12 people and gotten caught on every single rock. My favorite part was when we stopped for a short break and spent it leaping off the rocks into the river.
Finally, exhausted, cold and sopping wet, we arrived back at the pension for the best tasting samgyeopsal I’ve ever had. After that I wandered around trying not yawn and waited until 11 pm which seemed like an acceptable hour to crash into a heap on the floor and sleep. At 8 am we were rousted from our blankets (except for those who simply didn’t sleep at all). Everyone thought I was hungover because I kept clutching my head, but in reality I have an enormous goose egg on my forehead where I got hit with a paintball just above my mask. I cheered up considerably when the bus arrived and off we went to ride ATVs. After that we went back to the pension and said goodbyes to people who had to catch earlier buses or were too terrified to participate in the final Team Cal event of the weekend: Bungee Jumping.
I was SO excited. And here’s where I’ve finally got a few pictures. First, I’ve been looking forward to this for ages, so there was never any question: I was going to do it.

Here’s the thing though, I always felt that the first moment would be the worst. Stepping off the platform. I thought the rest would be more fun, and somehow I thought it would be more of a feeling flying. No. It wasn’t like flying. It felt exactly like I was PLUMMETING to my DEATH.

And then- then came the lovely feeling of flying as I bounced back up, and that’s when the worst moment came, because just as I was thinking “Whoo-hoo! I’m flying!!!” I stopped and began PLUMMETING to my DEATH again.

I think it was on the second bounce I did an awkward flip which I wasn’t expecting at all.

I was terrified that I’d try to grab the harness so I kept my arms out with my fingers all spread out stiffly. About the fourth bounce I remember thinking it probably looked pretty stupid, but I was still too terrified to move.

Finally they lowered me into a boat where I collapsed into a heap and was unable to stand for several seconds while I processed the fact that I was somehow still alive and the boatman kept asking me to stand up so he could get the harness off me.
Conclusion: Bungee jumping was approximately one million times more terrifying than I expected it to be.
And I can’t WAIT to try it again.

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