The Time I almost Died, White Water Rafting

‘Do one thing every day that scares you!!!’ They said.

I’ve spent my entire life being pretty tame. I once even cried the whole way down an abseiling wall. I’d always liked my feet safely on dry land… Until I travelled. Travel pushes you to your limits. So, whilst in Bali I decided to push the boat out and try white water rafting.

Our guide, a slim, young Indonesian man gave us a quick briefing and explained that when he shouts ‘boom’ we need to duck to avoid fallen trees etc. I recall him saying that if we fall in the water it was ‘bye-bye’, and then he laughed. This didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

He helped me into the boat with my friend and two Australian teenage boys. They were half my age and lived on the opposite side of the world. In every-day life, we would have absolutely nothing in common. Yet in this hour, smashing through the speeding waters in the jungle, they would become my family.

The start of the rafting was gentle, our boat softly pondering through the waters. Giant, powerful cliffs surrounded us and there would be the occasional family sitting on the banks, farming or making clothes. I could hear rattle snakes and cheerful bird songs. Then things started to speed up…

We each had an oar to help row, but naturally were using it to splash as much water as possible at the passing tourists. The world passed by quickly, my eyes were struggling to keep focus on danger, whilst trying to spot potential water-fight warfare. The rocky, green cliffs were whizzing past me in a hot blur. I believe this is where the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome kicked in… Adrenaline started pulsating around my body. My clothes were soaking wet, my finger nail bent right back and I bumped my helmet-covered head on a rock-wall. All the while, I felt no pain.

A collection of boats had gathered, stuck at the top of a small waterfall in the direction we were headed. Our pathway was blocked except for a large rock protruding from the centre of the waters. We ricocheted from several boats and at high speed slid up the rock and became wedged. Before I even knew what was happening, I felt myself in mid-air, violently flung from my boat. I was face up, watching the sky distance itself from me, aware that beneath my body was a sheer drop into harsh, rocky waters. I wasn’t afraid or worried, I guess it all happened too quickly for anything resembling emotion to settle in me.

In that second, the guide (who was half my size) grabbed onto the shoulder of my life-vest and a large chunk of my hair and pulled me effortlessly back into the boat. He actually saved my life. I couldn’t stop laughing and hugging him.

On my next visit to Bali, what was the first thing I did? Booked myself onto a white water rafting session.

Sharm El Shaken

All flights from the UK to and fro Sharm El Sheikh have been halted, temporarily by the government following a Russian plane, Metrojet 9268, that crashed in Sinai.

It is suspected that an explosive device had caused this crash, killing all 224 passenger and crew on board.

What does this mean for you if you are in Sharm or due to travel?

If you are currently in Sharm, you are best to contact your resort rep or travel agent for advice.

If you are due to travel, firstly check with your airline or tour operator that your flight is still scheduled. If you no longer wish to travel, you will need to inquire with whomever you booked with for a refund. Currently the foreign office has not changed its advice on travel to the Red Sea resort, which usually means travel insurance may not cover you for cancellation, but you definitely should still check this out.

[UPDATE]: 5th November.

The foreign office has now revised their advice on travel to Sharm El Sheikh to avoid all but essential travel. The good news here is that your travel insurance should be covering cancellation.

Please note, travel to other parts of Egypt is currently still perfectly OK. A lot of media are stating travel travel to ‘Egypt’ is affected, but this is only Sharm El Sheikh at present.

Whale watchers boat has crashed

Whale watchers boat has crashed

A boat of whale watchers on the West coast of Canada has sunk. The Foreign Secretary has confirmed that the five people on board who have drowned were British nationals. A sixth person, thought to be Australian, is still missing.

The Leviathan II vessel went down on Sunday around 9 miles off the coastal town of Tofino. There were no warnings given and the cause has not yet been confirmed.

In this day and age, it is both horrific and heartbreaking that events like this still occur.

My thoughts are with all of the loved ones who have passed away. Rest in peace forever with the whales.

  

Combatting a fear of flying!

It may be unusual to write about fear of flying on a happy travel blog, but this is a very real problem! I have come across many individuals who struggle to fly or simply will not get on a plane because of this fear.

This is also a fear of mine. A few years ago I became slightly obsessed with the TV show – ‘Air Crash Investigation’ after a few bad experiences on flights then my fear of flying began and I reached the point where I did not want to fly. I clung to my seat during the flight and I couldn’t stand up as I was convinced the aircraft would lose balance if I walked around on it. Every time the plane touched down at its destination it felt like a crazy miracle and I had been saved!! This for me seemed rediculous as I will go to theme parks, water rafting and boats / trains do not make me uncomfortable in the least. Being that travel is my favourite thing in life, this was a problem I had to solve.

I read books and purchased hypnosis DVDs. The two main things I took from this was that the noises you hear during take off and landing are perfectly normal, as are strange movements of the flaps off the wing etc. There is no such thing as an ‘air pocket’, if the plane drops suddenly, this happens!! Just relax. For me, understanding HOW the aircraft actually lifts off the ground and into the sky was the best way to calm my fear. I have studied the basics of aerodynamics during my lifetime, none of which could offer me any real comfort. For me, the best ‘scientific’ explaination I could find to understand how flying works was this simple paragraph;

Imagine you are driving in a car, either as the driver or passenger, and you are travelling at a very high speed. Pop your arm out of the window and make no effort to hold the tone in your arm, just relax it. You will find that the air will actually hold your arm up whilst you are in motion.’

Go ahead, try it, it works! You obviously have to be travelling at a certain speed for it to work. This is how pilots determine how fast an aircraft needs to be travelling down a runway before it can lift off, just down to the size and weight of the plane.

This next bit may sounds rediculous but what I did next to help my fear was accept that a plane crash may happen to me. The fear of it happening was causing me far too much anxiety when weighed up the realistic and highly unlikely possibility of this event ever happening to me. Once I accepted a crash was possible, it no longer seemed like a terrifying omen. Also, working in the Ambulance service and being in the face of death on a regular basis stops it being so scary.

Something to bear in mind if and when anxiety kicks in is that your fear of flying is irrational. In fact, any fear of anything is irrational. In this instance it is literally the fight AND flight syndrome.

The final and by far, the best thing I did in combatting my fear of flying was to book a flight to Australia and South East Asia, by myself. Facing the fear really did help me in this sense. Travelling alone makes you more independent and your inner child gets tucked away.

Give these a try for yourself if you, too struggle with this fear! 🙂