In the year that I have been living in China I have learned that a great way to see and do new things is to tag along with friends. When relatives come to visit they want to do all the cool touristy things, and it’s more fun to do these things with a large group. So I’m always ready to tag along; whether it’s a Peking Duck dinner or a trip to the Great Wall, I’m always up for a good time. So when my friend Kerri invited me to join her and her sister on a trip to Longqing Gorge to go bungee jumping, I leaped at the opportunity.
Our day started early with breakfast near my apartment, then we hopped on Line 13 and headed north out of the city to the ChangPing Line. [Beijing is the size of the state of Connecticut; but this includes a fair amount of area outside of the city center. So, while we were traveling outside of the city, we never actually left Beijing.] When we were as far north as the metro system would take us we bargained for a gypsy cab to take us all the way to the Gorge. A driver agreed to take us to the Gorge (an hour’s drive or so), wait for us while we did our touristy things, and then return us to NanShuo metro stop all for 300 RMB. A bargain of about $45.
Along the drive we passed close enough to the Great Wall at Badaling for a blurry photograph or two:
It was a little tough to tell when we’d arrived at our destination, but our driver’s demand for money was a pretty clear indicator that we were there. It was a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon, and there were no crowds to speak of.
This did mean that there was no ‘herd’ to follow, but we eventually figured it all out. Not without paying a few ‘stupid’ fees, however. Like 5 RMB for a ride in an oversized golf cart up a hill. We could have walked, but it’s all part of the experience… right?
Buying tickets to get into the gorge area was also a bit of a challenge. Every time we approached the woman in the window she pointed us in a different direction.
Although the prices were clearly listed on a sign in Chinese and English we only paid 40 RMB each to enter the park area. Cue shameless pictures of the white girls posing with random Chinese art and scenery:
After rounding a mountain/corner we saw one of the big draws of Longqing Gorge; the world’s longest outdoor escalator.
It wasn’t one long continuous escalator, like I had hoped. Instead, the structure follows the curves of the mountain and is broken up into several different escalators.
It only goes in one direction, and after the initial novelty has worn off, it’s a little dull.
It ends in a cave so one never really has to think about what the back end of the dragon looks like, or just which part of the dragon that is.
Next was a boat ride through the gorge on the other side of the dam.The mountains are gorgeous, and the water was a beautiful jade green.
We couldn’t understand the tour guide’s talk, but I’m guessing she was telling the other tourists how some mountains are particularly famous, sacred, or interestingly-shaped. Kerri, Melissa, and I just enjoyed the breeze and the sunshine.
As we rounded a bend we saw it: the platform for bungee jumpers! It was so high but I had to stop myself from thinking about it. I knew that if I started to over-analyze just what I was going to do (bungee jump in China?!?) I would talk myself out of it, or worse; chicken out of the whole thing.
Then, the boat started to move away from the dock where the bungee platform was. Wait! We want to do that! Thankfully the boat turned around not long after that, but there were a few tense moments. To get so close to our goal and not reach it would be devastating.
The hike up the hill after the boat docked was a little rough, but only because the adrenaline was starting to kick in. The check-in area for bungee jumping was a bit of a joke. Just a guy with a small sign-in sheet, a scale, and a warning sign poorly translated into English.
The guy had us read the sign, pay him 200 RMB ($30), weighed us each (none of your business what I weigh), recorded our names, ages, and gender on a piece of paper, then sent us up the stairs towards our adventure. Of the two dozen people that came on the boat with us, we were the only people to opt for bungee jumping. The others did enjoy taking pictures as we jumped, though.
Melissa was brave enough to jump first while I tried not to hyper-ventilate and chicken out. Helpfully, the guys on the platform scotch-taped our tickets around our waists. The harness was attached around our ankles, tight enough to be able to feel my pulse in my legs. Though that could have been due to the adrenaline running through my system. I complained of the tightness, but Melissa pointed out that I would appreciate the tightness on the way down. She was so right.
After Melissa’s jump it was just me and the two attendants on the platform and boy was it tough to decide to jump. I finally sucked up my courage and moved out to the other side of the gate, calling occasionally for Kerri. I had hoped that Kerri would get up to the platform in time to take a picture of me diving off, but no such luck. Finally go time came; I raised my arms over my head, took a deep breath, and swan dove off the overhang.
The feeling of weightlessness was startling, then the bungee cord kicked in and I remembered to scream. It was impossible for me to tell how high I was, or how many times I bounced, but damn was it fun!
When the bouncing stops two guys in a speed boat meet you with a long bamboo pole for you to grab as the attendants on the platform lower the winch. I have never been so happy to see two Chinese guys in my entire life. Awkwardness ensued as they tried to get me to sit down while I was still upside down, but it all worked out in the end. And I did it! I went bungee jumping in China!
The rest of the afternoon went by pretty fast. Another boat ride then a toboggan ride down the mountain for another 20 RMB ($3).
We stopped for snacks and ice cream before meeting up with the driver, our conversations peppered with comments like “I can’t believe we got to do that!” “You guys remember that time that we bungee jumped in the Longqing Gorge?” and “That was so awesome!” The ride back to NanShuo metro station was boring, the only excitement coming when the driver tried to gouge some more money out of us.
Bungee jumping wasn’t on my bucket list, but I now know that it should be added, and crossed off! The whole thing was exciting, frightening, exhilarating, and well worth it.The whole day cost us less than 600 RMB ($90) a piece, and we still had time for dinner plans later that night.
If you’re ever in Beijing and have a free afternoon: take metro Line 13 to the ChangPing line and get off on the last stop: NanShuo. Ask one of the numerous gypsy cabs to take you to Longqing gorge (don’t pay more than 500 RMB), and let the adventures begin! Even if you don’t want to bungee jump, the area is beautiful and there’s lots to see and do. Apparently there’s a huge winter festival that happens that you can catch in the wintertime too.