By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
Pokhara has occupied a distinct place for adventure tourism in Nepal. Tourists of all ages and interests can try an adventure that is perfectly suitable for them. Micro-light flights, Paragliding, mountain biking, caving, boating, rafting, trekking, Zip Flying and now bungee jumping is a newly added adventure in the repertoire of adventure tourism in Pokhara.
Normally a bungee jumping is made from a tall, metallic structure that is several meters high from the ground. However, many daredevils do not hesitate even to make a free fall from flying hot balloons, helicopters, tall buildings, and suspension bridges. Without doubt, today bungee jumping has become one of the most daring sports for the people who want to test the limit of their courage.
Bungee Jumping is located at Hemja near the Tibetan Camp. A 32-meter steel tower has been erected on a 50-meter cliff and the distance of the bungee from the jumping tower is about 80 meters. Recently brought into operation, Pokhara bungee has become Nepal’s first and only tower bungee. A jump is made from the distance of 80 meters metallic tower to the Seti River, which flows right below the heads of the bungee jumpers.
The jump is enough to give a shiver to the whole body. Soon after the jump, the cord is released and the bungee jumper swings up & down and back & forth for a moment until they reach in the safe hands of Bishal Gurung and Suman Thapa, who are stationed at a pond beside the Seti River. Rajesh Lamsal is a photographer.
He always stands alert to shoot photos of the falling bungee jumpers with amazing precision. Meanwhile, the tourists can also visit a small curio shop run by Arpit Gurung. His shop has unique collection of various things of tourists’ interest.
Sania Begam, a tourist from Egypt looked nervous as jumpmaster put life saving harness around her body and feet. At first, Sania Begam was so nervous that she even refused to talk with this scribe, but soon after the jump, she was entirely a different woman.
“Now I am alright,” said Sania Begam emphatically. “Before the jump I was so nervous and scared that I could not utter a word. Let me reveal the fact that I was always afraid of height and you can understand my condition until I took a jump. Even the last moment of the jump, I wanted to quit and return. However, I was determined to face my greatest fear…the fear of height.
Today I feel myself a victorious woman with a winning trophy in my hand”. “Many people think that only brave hearts dare bungee jumping. However, this is entirely wrong. The truth is that many people who are afraid of height also jump to fight against their fear”, opined Kriti Basnet, a college student from Kathmandu.
Speaking about her fear Sakuntala Gunjar, 32-year old mother of two lovely daughters from Rajasthan said, “Mine is a joint family. I had earned a name as a super coward and they were not wrong. I was even afraid of harmless creatures.
Merely a flitting sight of cockroach was enough to take to my heel. Over the years, I made myself strong enough to deal with cockroach, but my greatest fear was height. I made several unsuccessful efforts to conquer the fear of height, but all in vain.
Today when I took a jump from the 80-meter high tower, I became a different person. Now there is nothing I fear about! I am glad because now my daughters will find a brave mother who does not afraid of height”.
The role of a jumpmaster is very important. High Ground Nepal, the company that operates bungee jumping in Pokhara, is proud to have a world famous jumpmaster. Lauris Melkers is a Latvian jumpmaster. He has been in the bungee jumping profession for the last two decades. He has travelled several European countries to jump and train people who subsequently became jumpmasters. Besides being a jumpmaster, Lauris Melkers is a professional rock climber.
Asking about bungee jumping Lauris Melkers says, “If you want to get rid of your fear, then there is nothing better than bungee jumping. However, you need more mental strength than physical to make a jump.
The moment you make a jump, you are transformed. You fear none. You are free from all fear. With every jump you feel stronger and confident enough to deal with any fear that comes on your way”.
About the technical side of bungee jumping, Lauris Melkers added, “Safety and security are prime concern. I make sure by double-checking the harness attached to the body of the jumper. I also check the cord if it is properly working or not after each jump. I will never conduct a jump without a rigorous checking.
This is the only reason that in my long career as a jumpmaster no accident has ever occurred. To keep safety in mind, I make sure that bungee jumpers must not have heart disease, epilepsy, high blood pressure, orthopedic problems and neurological problems.
Pregnant women are also not allowed to make a jump. I never allow a person to jump who is under the impression of alcohol or drugs. Let’s not forget that safety of the jumper is everything in this adventure sports. Meanwhile, I am glad that my job has become much easier due to Jiban Thapa, my assistant”.
“The elastic rope is very important in bungee jumping,” says Lauris Melkers. “Modern elastic rope is a braided shock cord. This cord consists of many latex strands in a tough outer cover that gives a harder, sharper bounce. A bungee rope can be used up to 500 jumps, but it largely depends on the amount of wear and tear of the cord”.
Lauris Melkers has one-year contract with High Ground Nepal. When asked if he would like to extend his contract Lauris Melkers said, “I am a traveler. It is hard for me to stay in one place for long. Life is short and there are many places in the world worth visiting. This is the only reason I do not stay long in one place. Nepal is a beautiful country and its people are very generous. However, there is one thing I will definitely miss and it is Nepali Dal-Bhat, my favourite food”.
Tourism industry can only flourish if there is peace in the country. After a decade long bloody conflict, now the country has experienced little peace. Now it is the part of our political leaders to decide about the future of the country. The country must get rid of some nasty practices of the past like Nepal banda and chakka jam. Such activities will not serve any political parties purpose.
This will further deteriorate the image of country’s fledgling tourism sector. If tourism sector plummets, it affects almost every sector of the economy. It is therefore every possible effort should be made to promote Nepali tourism. Our politicians must admit their past mistakes and take a vow not to repeat them in future.
They should not disrupt tourism sector and peaceful environment of the country for political advantages. Nepali tourism sector has huge potentiality to bring national and international tourists round the year. If tourism sector flourishes, it gives positive impetus to other economic and non-economic sectors of the country.
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