Prior to heading out from Penang, Malaysia I had done a lot of research on where else to visit while I was in Malaysia. I had initially picked the island of Langkawi, Malaysia because I had read that it had the best SCUBA diving on the west coast. Since, as many know, SCUBA diving is another of my passions I thought it would be a great place to check out for a week, do some diving and get plenty of beach therapy before heading out to Cambodia in March.
Yes, I realized that there was no BJJ on the island but, I felt like I could handle a week on the beach without too much trouble. In the few weeks leading up to our trip to Langkawi, I had been training a lot between Monarchy MMA, Budo Academy, Kombative Fitness, and team Armada so a few days in the sun sounded great.
I got more excited about the diving as time got closer and I started doing some research on where exactly to dive and who to go with. As I began researching I immediately began to see some conflicts. I am big on using resources like Tripadvisor when checking out local services or businesses to try and ensure that I don’t get a bum operation by some fluke of bad luck. But, what I was finding on TA was causing me some consternation.
It appeared that there were more bad reviews for scuba diving the waters around Langkawi island than there were good ones. But the good one’s sounded awesome. As I looked a little closer I began to realize that all of the “amazing,” positive reviews of the dive quality around the island were written by the dive operators, or people working for the Dive operators. That was certainly a bummer. Scuba diving isn’t a cheap hobby and I am on a pretty tight budget as it is. And there was still diving in the Philippines and in Indonesia that I wanted to do. I definitely didn’t want to waste any money diving a bum spot.
I resigned myself to skip the scuba diving and just enjoy the beach and the “duty-free” beers on the island (which was a huge relief after spending around $13 per 6-pack in the rest of Malaysia).
After we landed in Langkawi we grabbed the first “Bootleg” taxi that approached us and headed for our hostel on Pantai Tenga (Tenga Beach). As we headed out and around the airport I was looking out the window at the landscape, people, sights, etc, like I always do when, out of the corner of my eye, I happened to spot a small sign sticking up out of the grass….A little squint and I was able to make out the words…SKYDIVE Langkawi.
Hmmm…what’s this? Skydiving? Hmmm…that sounds like it could be fun. I put it to the back of my mind and focused on getting to the hostel, getting booked in and settled. I had a nice evening of drinking some beers and sitting in the pool until dark.
But, once night came, skydiving was back in my mind. The idea had been growing ever so quietly in the back of my head as I drank $0.50 beers and chatted with other guests at the hostel. By the time I found the website for SkyDive Langkawi I was already mentally “ALL-IN”. I checked the pricing (which was out of my budget) and quickly ignored it. 🙂
I definitely wanted to go skydiving. I had never really considered skydiving before but now, somehow, it seemed like the perfect idea. Maybe I was adrenaline deprived…staring down the long end of a ten day BJJ hiatus. I’m not really sure. It just seemed like the right thing to do. The thought of really doing such an amazing thing, coupled with the idea that: Hey…if you’re gonna jump out of an airplane, why not do it to one of the best views on the planet?! Now….if only I could convince my wife…..
To my great surprise, it didn’t actually take much. Even though she has a slight fear of heights, when I told her I would do it alone if she didn’t want to go she smiled and said… “Well, I’m not going to let you jump out of an airplane by yourself. Sign me up”.
A couple quick e-mails later and we were signed up for first thing, day after tomorrow. Let me tell ya…I never felt a day go by so fast in all of my life. I’m really not sure that we didn’t accidentally step through a worm-hole on our way back from the beach the next day because, before I knew it the taxi was picking us up and taking us to the airport.
So, before we could get in a plane and fly up to 10,000 ft and jump out we had to do the standard liability releases, and a little bit of training. And by a little bit, I mean a very little bit. We watched a five minute video on “proper posture” and got a one minute brief on the procedure and then we were getting suited up.
*Note – When the instructor told us…”Don’t worry, you’re only actually gonna freefall for about 30 seconds.” My wife responded…”Well, that’s still plenty of time to piss myself.” haha – we all got a laugh out of that.
For anyone wanting to do a recreational sky dive, you are going to be required to do a tandem jump first. A tandem jump is where you are harnessed directly to a qualified “Tandem Jumper” and they do all the work involved with the jump. You are pretty much just there for the ride which, of course, for me was just fine. I found out later that even if you are doing a full skydiving course to become certified to jump solo, you will still be required to do a series of tandem jumps and then assisted jumps before you are allowed to jump solo.
So, after the paperwork and the prep work it was off to the tarmac.
The plane was small…really small. It had one prop, two wings and one seat in the front. The rest was just a small cargo area for the jumpers to climb in. Our pilot was an Australian gal and I remember thinking that she was ridiculously tiny and way too cute 🙂
I was just a little put off when I noted that she was also wearing a parachute….”Ummm…just let us jump first, okay?” I joked…
We all hopped in and off we went. It was strange to me that they didn’t bother closing the door to the aircraft until after we took off. I’m not sure if we all just forgot or if that is normal but it was pretty neat watching the ground speed by and then fall away as you leave the ground.
The trip up to 10,000 ft. took around five minutes and the plane, not really needing to go anywhere but up, was doing slow circles as it went higher and higher. It was still early morning (around 10:00 am) and the sun was sitting low on the horizon casting a silvery tone to the water around the island. Out the window I could see the water shift colors from blue to emerald green as the smaller out islands crept up out of the water.
At about half way up, 5000 ft. my Instructor asked how I was doing….Surprisingly, I was really relaxed. I realized in that moment that I was WAY more nervous waiting for my next match at a tournament than I was just then, getting ready to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 ft. Why? That didn’t seem to make any sense. I thought about it a lot later and came to the conclusion that there is a certain peacefulness that overcomes you once you have determined and accepted that you have NO CONTROL. I was going to jump out of an airplane. I had no experience. I had no knowledge of how to do anything other than fall. I had put 100% of my trust into my Instructor Lyndsey. Either she knew what she was doing and was going to get me to the ground safely or she didn’t. It was as simple as that. The time for stress and worry was LONG since past. There was nothing to do now but to enjoy the ride! Speaking of which…
At 10,000 ft. Lyndsey pushed open the fuselage door and said…”okay..you ready?” I remember thinking…”Oh shit…I’m actually gonna do this? Okay then, let’s just do this”…but all I said was…”Yep”. I’ll admit, it was that split second of thinking that was the only bit of nerves I felt the entire ride up. Why was it coming up now? I really don’t know. But…it was gone the next second and the only thing my mind had room for was the adrenaline!
Lyndsey counted…”One…two…” I never heard three…we hurtled out of the plane at around 150 miles per hour, tumbling in what seemed like an out of control bundle of “OOOOHHHH Shiiiiit”!
By the time we hit our terminal velocity (probably something around 220 mph) we were in our appropriate falling position and Lyndsey had us doing some lateral spins while we still had some free-fall time left.
At around 4500 ft. or so the chute opened and there was an acute sense of falling before the chute filled with air and we were blissfully drifting around and around, enjoying the view on our, relatively, peaceful descent to the most beautiful beach in all of Malaysia (so they say).
I’ll just let you see the rest
Oss! Remember to have some fun out there!