Bungy jumping has always been on my bucket list. The thought of just leaping off a ledge and free-falling from hundreds of feet in the air into the unknown has always been something I’ve wanted to try. However, I always imagined the setting to be a bright sunny day, with friends and family cheering when I finally took the plunge. Jumping solo at night, after a long day of rain, amidst fog and right after a freak lightning storm was not exactly what I had in mind.
But circumstances, like the weather and my travel companions (namely my mother and sister’s fear of heights) and the fact that we were traveling with a 5-year old left me no choice. I didn’t want to subject them to a long wait, so I went alone. We were already in Macau on a side trip after a kid-friendly tour of Hong Kong (our main agenda there was Disneyland) and I saw the chance to finally try it. So I tried it.
At 338 meters, the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center in Macau, China is one of the world’s tallest towers, edging out the Sydney Tower (304m) in Australia and the Eiffel Tower (324m) in Paris, France. The AJ Hackett Macau Tower has been certified by the Guinness World Records as the World’s Highest Commercial Bungy Jump. Visitors get to jump from 233 meters (764 feet, 5 inches) high with a view of the cityscape dotted with casinos and buildings. Sounds like a pretty good place to try bungy jumping for the first time if you ask me.
Aside from bungy jumping, there are several other extreme activities you can try at the Macau Tower. There’s the Sky Jump (where you’re lowered down the tower in a standing position), the Sky Walk (where you get to stroll around the 1.8 meter wide outer perimeter of the tower) and the Tower Climb (where you climb 100 meters up the mast’s vertical ladders to get a 360 degree view). Their latest addition is a Climbing Wall outside the tower, which is actually Asia’s highest at 32 meters high.
These activities don’t come cheap at all. I availed of the full bungy jumping package, which includes an exclusive t-shirt, frequent flyer discount card (for future jumps in other AJ Hackett properties) and souvenir HD photos/video. It’s a major production now, and you get a full edited video from 3 different camera angles plus the video from a GoPro they strap to your wrist in a handy USB. I don’t even want to convert how much that costs in pesos. But I hadn’t really spent anything, since I didn’t shop for clothes, electronics, jewelry or souvenirs. I don’t need those! And as the reminders posted all over the tower told me: “Everyday, do something that reminds you you’re still alive.” So what the heck.
After joining my family for a city tour of Macau, I headed back to the Sky Tower at 2:30 pm. We had actually visited the tower earlier, but no one in the group wanted to pay the extra fee to visit the observation tower. The elevator ride going up is something in itself. You get brief glimpses of the scenery through the glass doors in the 50 seconds that it takes the elevator to whiz up to the 61st floor where the adventure deck is located.
When I arrived, there was a line of people waiting for their turn. I signed up at the counter and was told that there would be a waiting time of at least 3 hours. If you’re set on doing this, I highly suggest you book reservations online so you’re assured of a slot. According to the staff, they get an average of 40-45 jumpers a day. While the actual jumps don’t take that long, the waiting time for the right weather and wind conditions and for people before you to steel their nerves and jump can take a while. The weather was already overcast during the morning, but it rained heavily several more times in the afternoon, which caused further delays.
For the safety of jumpers, the crew halts operations when rain is too hard, the wind is too strong, or there’s a lightning storm. As luck would have it, we encountered all the elemental forces that afternoon.
The anticipation was excruciating. Thankfully, the AJ Hackett crew kept us in good spirits. It helped that a lot of them were from the Philippines, so they were extra nice to me when they found out where I was from. In terms of nationalities, the crew told me that not a lot of Pinoys try bungy jumping or even choose to come up to the tower (most Pinoys are too thrifty, I guess). Ryan, one of the managers, kept us updated on the weather conditions. One of the other guys even offered us a round of beer when the rain looked like it wouldn’t let up, but we still refused to leave. That was highly appreciated.
Mid-afternoon, one guy had to pack up and leave after a couple of hours, as he had his whole family and little kids were waiting in the lobby. The crowd of jumpers eventually thinned out as two or three people at a time were allowed to jump in between the bursts of rain. There was a collective gasp from spectators at the deck every time someone took the plunge . “It makes you feel like a superhero,” commented my seatmate as we sipped our beers.
Night hit and it was still raining on and off. Then lightning struck, and the area mostly cleared out. There were only 3 of us waiting to jump, with me next in line. There were people in line before me who eventually lost hope and had to back out. A European dude who was next in line to me left in disappointment as he had to catch the ferry back to Hong Kong that night or he would miss his flight the next day. The Russian guy who made the superhero comment was agonizing over the fact that he had cancelled his plans of watching a Dancing Water show with his friends with nothing to show for it.
I was the last person left standing from the afternoon group when the other guys decided to leave. I kind of felt bad for the crew, as I felt like the were just waiting for me to back out so they could close operations and head home early. I was already starting to have second thoughts when a new batch of people came to avail of the night jump, so I felt like I had a right to wait a bit longer.
Finally, at about past 8:00 pm, the rain cleared a bit to a slight drizzle and the crew got the go-signal to commence operations again. I have to give props to the crew, for working like a well-oiled machine. There are so many people working behind the scenes to make each jump possible – from the crew up in the tower, the crew down below, photographers and video editors. They quickly got me strapped in and I was ready to go. From the platform, all I could see was a thick layer of fog obscuring the ground below. The car lights were just pinpricks of light. On their signal, I leaned forward and jumped.
Was it worth the wait? I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- AJ Hackett Macau Tower is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year (weather permitting).
- Opening hours: Mon – Thurs: 11am – 7:30pm, Fri – Sunday: 11am – 10pm; Night Bungy: Friday – Sunday: 7pm – 10pm
- They offer different packages, from just the basic jumps, combos and full photo/video package. For cost of packages, visit: www.ajhackett.com/macau
- Prior reservations are highly recommended, though they accept walk-ins. They accept payment in Hong Kong dollars and Macau Patacas, but not US Dollars. You can also pay by credit card.
- Refunds are given if you are unable to jump because of the weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances. But if you back out for other reasons, there’s strictly no refund.
- What to wear: Jumpers are provided with t-shirts which they can wear during the jump. It’s best to wear closed shoes obviously. Jumpsuits and sneakers are provided for those wearing skirts/dresses & slippers/shoes that may fall off.
- If you’re going to the waiting area to jump, you can’t bring anything with you including phones and cameras. There are lockers for rent in the changing area. If you have a companion to watch your stuff, great. If not, prepare extra money for the locker (expires after 3 hours).
- There’s a small souvenir shop with drinks and light snacks on the same floor.