IT IS TRUE THAT YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, but you should know that you only die once too. “Do you know how many accidents occur during skydiving?” said Charles while looking at his Google hits, “At least 50 or more deaths a year!” he informed us. I felt a little anxious for him. Newly wed, baby on its way, he cannot afford to end his life now. “Are you calling to tell your wife before or after the jump?” I asked, “And, can I get your cool torchlight if you die?” New Zealand’s a haven for the adrenaline junkies, with Queenstown being its main hub. Eric insisted on doing the skydive at Wanaka mostly because of the price.
The drive from Mount Cook to Wanaka was scenic enough, with green pastures and low lying hills, but we were all focused on the highlight — the jump. I have never skydive before, and I don’t plan to skydive today. I love the challenge but I only have the budget for one extreme sport and I chose to bungy jump later in our trip. However, for Eric and Charles, this would be the pinnacle of the trip. Eric was really excited but I always had this feeling that Charles is just obediently tagging along. “With such a height, at least you die instead or being crippled.” I teased them. “That’s good news!” Eric said sarcastically. As doctors, we were trained to view all traumas as dangers to our bodies. You can’t blame us for imagining how all the thousands of possible anatomical injuries would affect the body’s function. It is internal, our minds were programmed to do that.
Halfway to Wanaka in Central Otago
Colorful plants whose names I don’t know
Wanaka Puzzling World is fun for all the young uns, and the young at heart.
This gives new definition to the term “public” bathroom
HOSTELS ARE EVERYWHERE IN NEW ZEALAND, but we chose to stay at a small bed & breakfast for the night. The owners of the place are a young Taiwanese couple who are now working in Wanaka. Their place, “Fat Cat”, is a comfortable town house minutes away from the lake. The female owner is a very talkative and passionate person, always wanting to help with our plans. All in all, it was a pleasant stay, and from Eric’s photos of the night sky, I would say that he was pleasantly contended.
Just me and bros chillin’ at the lakeside
The famous Lake Wanaka tree
Night view of “Fat Cat” (Photo courtesy of Eric Chen)
ERIC AND CHARLES SEEMED CALM ENOUGH WHILE THEY FILL UP THEIR FORMS AT THE SKYDIVING COUNTER. They were equally calm when we watched the pre-flight video. “So, all these belongs to me if anything bad happens?” I said, while they empty their pockets and handed their cameras to me.
It is a beautiful day. Blue skies, gentle breeze, it is a perfect day for jumping out of a plane. I bid them farewell, almost gave them hugs, and resumed my duty of photographing them. There were two more guys who went up with them. All the spectators cheered when they lifted off to the air. The plane circled for a while and all of a sudden, we saw a tiny orange dot coming out of the plane. Then another, and another. They looked so small, until when the parachute opens and we could see small rectangles gliding towards us. It must have been an unbelievable moment for them. When they landed, I could sense how joyful they were. A courageous Eric said, “If I can do this, there is nothing else I couldn’t do”. “Imagine how cool this video would be when you air it during your wedding day?” Charles asked, probably sad because he is already married. Eric now with a sparkle in his eyes, “First, I have to find someone to marry;” he said, “But after this, there is no challenge too great for me!” I laughed at his brags, but deep down inside, I do believe him. When you learn how to die, you learn how to live.
The before photo, still looking good heh?
How cool is that? (Photo courtesy of Eric Chen)
The after photo, life’s nice only because we get to live it, haha
Levitation of the day: Wanaka Puzzling World