Adrenalin Junkie

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1st January 2001, Surfers' Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia.
I wanted this New Year to feel different. I had three hours to kill before my bus left for Brisbane.
So I went Bungee Jumping. Night was falling, I went up the jumping tower in a sort of elevator.
And I was soooooooo scared! It was only about 40 meters high, but that was really horrible because
you could really see the scale and the tiny people below. The guy went: "One. Two. Three. Jump!!"
and I threw myself in the air. I knew if I thought about it even for a second I'd be too scared to do it
so I just jumped. The feeling was horrible because before you reach the end of the elastic,
you really don't feel you're attached to anything and you really think that maybe there is no elastic
and you're actually going to die. As soon as you reach the bottom and the elastic yanks you back up,
there is nothing to be scared of anymore. But then you start spinning, and that's very sickening.
In short, I'd probably be stupid enough to do it again, especially since I heard of a place in New Zealand
where you can jump from 120 meters. But I truly hated the feeling. Funnily enough, most professional parachutists
say they find bungee much more scary than skydiving. I tend to agree, I wasn't scared at all when I skydived.
When you skydive, you are so high up that you lose your sense of scale and everything is unreal, because the
scenery is the same that you are used to seeing from an airplane window. You are above the clouds,
and you think you're going to land on a mattress of cotton wool.

8th January 2001, Byron Bay (State of Queensland), Australia.
Byron Bay is Australia's most Easterly point. So skydiving from there meant getting a unique look
at the shape of the West coast of Australia. I skydived from 12.000 feet (3.000 meters). That's roughly
the highest you can skydive without wearing an oxygen mask because from 14.000 feet above there is oxygen shortage
and you have to wear a whole gear and you need to do a medical preparation and stay in decompression chambers
for a whole day to learn to recognize the symptoms of oxygen shortage (and you can only do all that from an army base).
A few figures to make your mind race : diving from 12.000 feet, you get 50 seconds of free fall at 180 kms/hour,
and believe me, that is so fast and there is so much air pressure in your nose you can hardly breathe!
Then when the parachute is open, you have about 7 or 8 minutes left in the sky. It took the plane 20 minutes
to reach 12.000 feet, and at that height, it was really cold, barely 3 degrees, so I was truly happy to fall fast
and to reach 3.000 feet (1.000 meters) in 50 seconds, which is the altitude at which you open your parachute.
Right before we landed, Lou Armstrong (what a predestined name for a skydiving instructor!) said to me :
"Don't you think it's the best thing you can do with your clothes on ?!". The answer is YES. Definitely.

10th January 2001, Byron Bay (State of Queensland), Australia.
Pictures of my first scuba diving lesson. Yes, the green thing wearing a mask in the picture is actually me.
We dived off Julian Rocks, in Byron Bay, at about 15 meters of depth, and saw the most amazing fish.
We even saw a Wobbygong Shark sitting on the bottom, it's a yellow looking shark with spots on it,
about 5 feet long (1m50). You can just about see him in the other green picture, lying below the rock.
Believe it or not, he was waiting for us right next to the rope we were going down along.
Good job he was harmless, as in Queenland they have man-eating sharks everywhere
and it is forbidden to swim in most places.

8th January 2001, Byron Bay (State of Queensland), Australia.
My first surf lesson. I couldn't miss out on that authentic Australian cultural experience!!
Not much to say there, except that the roller coasters were very big and scary,
but that I didn't drink as much salt water as I had expected, and that at the end of the day
I painstakingly managed to stand up on my surf board for a few seconds and ride a couple of waves.
And you're never, never going to see those truly embarrassing pictures of me crawling on the surf board
with my bottom sticking up...!!


7th January 2001, Fraser Island, just below the Great Barrier Reef,
the World's largest sand island (State of Queensland), Australia.
Some people from the Hervey Bay Youth Hostel and I did a three day self-driven safari tour of the island.
Now, I know what you're thinking: I hate cars and I don't even have my driver's license
and I've never driven a car in my whole life. Well, it was true until that day...
Imagine taking your first driving lesson in an army type Jeep on the World's largest sand island,
four wheel driving on a 75 km long beach, climbing the sand dunes and crossing little rivers
with huge roller coaster waves crashing next to you. It was fantastic.
Orchid Beach, a place to remember...
My undying gratitude to "Tony Boy" for that first driving lesson I'll never forget.
"Tony Boy" is the guy in the black t-shirt on the extreme right of the group picture.

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