My mother was the first person in my family to skydive ❤️ Three months shy from her 56th birthday, she jumped off a plane at 13,000 feet in Melbourne. She said she would never do it again, but here's something you don't know about her. Like me, she's scared to death of heights ?
Since life is full of surprises, we were invited for a media trip to New Zealand where our itinerary includes skydiving in Auckland ?! We even compiled amazing travel guides and halal food stops in New Zealand - just for you! Call it a coincidence, but it was God's plan to face my fears - the same way my mother did, six months before.
My first skydiving experience
10.00 AM: Facing my fears at Skydive Auckland
I woke up feeling groggy after a 45-minute drive to Skydive Auckland from our hotel ? Part of me wished that I was dreaming, but facing our fears was the agenda of the day. If you're planning to skydive with them, they provide free transportation to and from the Auckland city. They'll pick you up with a comfortable blue van, and do ask the driver to share his skydiving stories!
10.05 AM: Register for the jump of your life
The moment you step into Skydive Auckland, you'll notice how everyone radiates with positivity and confidence ? "Skydiving is scary, but it's super fun!" said the receptionist with a beaming smile, and deep down, I wished I had half of her adventurous spirit.
To register, look out for the row of tablets waiting for your personal details, signature (for the waiver and binding contracts) and weight checks. The whole process took less than 10 minutes, and we continued with a short introductory briefing before putting on our safety equipment ?
#HHWT Tip: Skydive Auckland has a 100kg weight restriction, and you may need to pay an additional fee if you're over the weight limit.
10.30AM: Dress the part
If you want to look your fears in the eye, you have to dress the part. All skydiving jumpsuits ranged from S to XL (European sizes), so you may be able to find your perfect fit. Don't worry, there will be someone to help you along the way. Otherwise, you can sit on the floor and wiggle into it, as I did ?
The same staff will also strap you up with safety equipment. Besides getting to know you, you can ask them anything about skydiving. Since I was nervous the whole time, the only question I asked was "Will I be okay?" Then, the staff looked at me, "Well, let's find out!"
#HHWT Tip: While all equipment is provided, it's important to wear comfortable clothing and secure sneakers or trainers before arriving at your skydiving centres.
10.45 AM: Meet your partner in crime
"Who is Cheng Sim?"?♀️
I raised my hand and was greeted with a firm handshake. That was how I met Owen, my pilot, parachute and partner in crime. "I don't know if I could jump off the plane," I confessed nervously. Then, he laughed, "I don't think you have a choice, Sim. I'll be the one who will push you off!"
For the next ten minutes, he explained how I should position myself on the plane. The one trick I learned is to lean my body against him and bend my knees to mimic a banana. That way, he'd be able to skydive easily and my legs won't get caught at the edge of the plane. Of course, he explained more things to me, but I was all scatter-brained to remember a word ?
11.00 AM: The plane is really small
Honestly, I don't know how they managed to fit 16 people into a small turbine-engine aircraft. United by our adrenaline for adventure, the aircraft took us all the way to 16,000 feet. For comparison, it's as high as 15 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other! ?
The moment we reached closer to our altitude, Owen nudged me to wear an oxygen mask. Between feeling like my heart is beating out of my chest and breathing like Darth Vader, I looked over to our co-founder Suzana and she seemed...fine! ?
At one point, she was pumping her fist in the air! "You can do this!" she said. Or that was what I think she said since the aircraft was loud and I couldn't hear a thing ?
11.15 AM: It's showtime!
After what felt like forever, the aircraft shutter opens. Our skydiving instructors were signalling and saying 'Go!' to each other. There were a few people ahead of me. I didn't see our videographer Luqman jumped off the plane. But when I caught a glimpse of our co-founder Elaine falling into the vast sky, my mind went "Nonononono!" ?
A few seconds later, Suzana motioned to the door and skydived off the plane. Crap, I'm next! "Omg, I can't do this! I really can't do this!" I panicked. Being the cheeky daredevil that he is, Owen said, "Oh yes, you're next!" ?
11.20 AM: The scariest moment of my life
I may look like I'm smiling, but that was me looking up to heaven above and praying that I'll live to see the footage of the scariest moment of my life. This was also the part where I asked myself, "What the hell was I thinking?" and most importantly, "What the hell was my mother thinking?"
Three seconds before I jumped, I froze at the edge of the plane. I remember leaning back and bending my knees like a banana, which was the only thing I remembered from Owen's instructions.
Do you guys notice how Owen was sitting at the edge of the door, and my legs were helplessly daggling like squid tentacles? I was terrified as hell! My palms started sweating, and a million things flashed across my head. I thought to myself, "I swear if I die today, I'm going to..."
...then, Owen let go!
In my head, I thought I'd look as graceful as Pocahontas jumping off the waterfall. I imagined myself stretching my arms with confidence, and my hair flowing beautifully in the wind. Some even said skydiving feels floating in the clouds!
Well, not even close! Skydiving feels like having a thousand high-powered turbines blowing in your face. Your cheeks will flap, your hands will flail helplessly. When you scream in terror, you can't hear anything else.
Since our whole team is skydiving at 16,000 feet, we had 60 seconds of freefall, and it felt like the longest rollercoaster drop of my life! ?
11.21 AM: Then, magic happened
Just when I thought I'll fall flat on the Auckland soil, Owen opened the parachute and we were instantly greeted with absolute quietness (okay maybe because I stopped screaming). I opened my eyes and saw the most beautiful landscape of Auckland - a gift only reserved to anyone who braved themselves to skydive! ?
The landscape goes as far as the eyes can see, and it took a while for everything to sink in. I was so mesmerised by the bird's-eye view of Auckland that I said, "Owen, I think you have the best job in the world!" ?
"Well, my job is alright," he replied nonchalantly. Imagine how lucky he is to see this view every day! We were spinning and doing circles in the sky. It's silly to admit, but my eyes welled up with tears by how beautiful the landscape was! That's coming from a city girl who surrounds herself with tall buildings all her life.
11.25 AM: Keeping my feet on the ground
"Raise your feet up!" Owen instructed within minutes from landing at the Skydive Auckland ground. This one requires quite a workout because the safety harness was pretty tight. The moment my sneakers hit the ground, I've never felt so much relief. While the adrenaline pumps through my veins, Owen turned around to give me a high-five. "I really did it!" ?
"How are you feeling?" he asked, and I probably said, "It was amazing!" about a gazillion times to the camera. Out of all the crazy things I've done, that was the bravest thing by far! From someone who is afraid of heights, skydiving was the push I needed to do braver things in my life. Like, taking more risks and stepping outside my comfort zone. Looking back, it was the day that I truly lived! ?
Would I skydive again? Maybe. Was it the most memorable experience of my life? It's right up there!
What was the bravest thing you've done while travelling? How did it inspire you as a traveller? We'd love to hear your story in the comments below! Before signing off to my next adventure, remember the sky's the limit to everything that you do! ?
[P.S. Planning a trip to New Zealand's North Island? This is the 8D7N Muslim-friendly itinerary you’ve been waiting for!]