If I could break a sweat just sitting motionless, you can imagine the struggle in the heat carrying our mammoth-sized backpacks several blocks until we found our hostel, Sleeping Inn, with a slogan of “Get excited where you sleep.” Interesting
After letting us simmer in the waiting area for the room to be ready, we found ourselves in a four person room without AC, which further aggravated the fight against the heat. We wandered down to the beach and walked along the shady trees with a frozen mango drink in hand.
Our hostel was putting on an “All You Can Eat” BBQ and then college dorm styled drinking games with their supply of goon all for 5$, so we joined in for that and met some of the other hostel residents. Since the staff mostly works for accommodation and are just other backpackers like us, it felt like just hanging out with friends back at UConn, except for when they had to explain the rules of Flip Cup to an intoxicated Finnish girl. After playing games, the staff took us out to a club called Vanity where we were welcomed with booming America’s top 40 beats.
With the intense heat, we woke up early and blanketed with sweat. Great way to start the day. After helping ourselves to the hostel’s toast, peanut butter, and wheat-bix cereal, we explored the city via a 50cc scooter.
We stayed cool all day by zipping around the city streets and then taking the scooter along the coast and stopping at every appealing beach along the way. After driving south all the way to Burleigh Heads, we went back north to Hooters, to enjoy some good ole American-styled buffalo wings. Sadly America remains the only place that can truly dish out proper tasting wings.
After lunch we headed to The Spit, which is a piece of land jutting out into the bay of Surfers Paradise. It was filled with camper vans and hundreds of dead bright blue jelly fish, so we quickly jumped into the water and returned the scooter right on time.
When we walked back to the hostel, the staff greeted us with plates of sausages and encouraged us to join them on their pub crawl. After more college drinking games, we all headed out to the night clubs. We didn’t make it to all of them after being exhausted from the lack of sleep and frustrated by the bouncers refusing to let our Japanese friends in due to their lack of English language fluency.
Last night, the heat was even worse, forcing us to crawl out of our beds at 3am and try to sleep on the common room couches to catch a hint of a breeze from the wobbly ceiling fan above. The lack of sleep, on top of feeling sick from the buffalo wings (go figure we both get sick from Hooters, the last place I’d expect to) put me in a horrible state to go skydiving.
However, I got myself up early in the morning to get ready and meet the shuttle bus at our hostel, which took us to the skydiving office on Kirra Beach. I drank cups of water and did breathing exercises to try to calm my stomach from the food illness, but at least it took my worries away from the fact that I was going to be jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet.
The instructors were great at telling jokes and keeping us happy and distracted from being nervous. Peppy, my tandem partner, buckled me into my harness and explained all the proper procedure for jumping. We piled into a van with all our gear on and headed to the airport and packed into the tiny plane facing backwards. Peppy kept asking me questions and videoing me to get me pumped up and ready to go. The plane left the runway and took us up into the sky, and I could see the entire city of Surfers Paradise and the beautiful white sand beaches and the blue green water as they got smaller and smaller. When I thought we were probably high enough, Peppy told me we were only halfway up! My adrenaline was already pumping and I felt ready to do it, no turning back now!
We finally reached 12,000 feet, just at cloud level, and the person in front of me was outside the plane and then all of a sudden Peppy was nudging me towards the gaping open door and then my legs were dangling outside the plane and we fell. The only thing I thought was “arms crossed, head back, lean back” since my instructions were the only thing my brain could make sense of as I was flying through the air toward the earth. We somersaulted a few times and then straightened out, the pull of gravity strong on my body. I felt three taps on my shoulder, indicating to me that I could release my crossed arms and try to fly around and swim through the air, all captured on my video with a look of terror on my face. Then all of a sudden, Peppy pulled the cord to release our parachute, and we jolted backwards and the extreme motion just stopped as we were suspended in the air. My first thought was how peaceful it was just floating down, the warm ocean air enveloping us while the view of the beach started to come clearer into view. Peppy had me control the ropes to steer the parachute and we twirled around in either direction, with me amazed that our lives were literally in my hands. I could see the first parachuter touch down on the beach and soon we were swooping down trying to spot Byron below, running along the beach to meet us on impact. I waved enthusiastically, probably relieved to have survived the free fall and be so close to ground now. Peppy instructed me when to raise my legs as high as possible as he brought us in for a smooth landing on the soft sandy beach. I made it! I did it!! The adrenaline rush was crazy as I shouted in happiness and excitement. They took us back to the office to have a glass of water (skydiving is exhausting) and show me the dvd from the jump. I left the office proud that I could finally check it off the bucket list. Even better, I would totally do it again!
My skydiving high continued throughout the day as we went back to the hostel, booked some of our Hong Kong itinerary using street wifi, and enjoyed $5 Dominoes pizza (it’s so dangerously cheap here). With the heat still sucking the energy out of the city, we put on our bathing suits and headed to the beach to cool down. Luckily the waves weren’t too big, for my sake, but there were many bright blue jelly fish that I didn’t trust not to sting me. Eventually we headed back to the hostel again to join everyone for $5 steak, chips (fries), and a beer at the Melbas club/casino. We had no interest in another night out on the town, but we couldn’t say no to $5 steak. After our cheap meal, we walked along the Beachfront Market that went on several nights a week with vendors ranging from wax hand sculptures to crazy hats. Again, it’s a good thing I don’t have space in my bag to buy anything else.
Exhausted from the heat and the day’s activities, we went back to the hostel for an early bedtime.