I have a soft spot for Galle as I visited it with my nephew first! We were staying at Unawatuna and hopped over to Galle in 2013. Then meeting Sampath the cliff jumper from Galle in 2018 has added another fond memory to it!
So here I am at Galle again, writing this post as I wait for my other group members to walk back to our agreed upon meeting place. As it takes some time for a group to gather, I decide to utilize the time by writing. I am learning to work on the go!
When I visited before I didn’t notice Sampat. He says he has been diving since he was 10. Because I have jumped from a few cliffs (two to be precise ) my curiosity is piqued.
As I walk around I see no safe landing place! I feel even curiouser! There is a poster on the wall and the man sitting next to it looks like the man in the pictures!
I walk up to him and ask if he is the man? He beams and says yes. When I check the height of the wall, he says it is 12 meters. I tell him I have jumped from 10 but it was in the deep sea. I see no place to land here. He laughs again and says he can land! Then I ask- why why why?
(Video by Faizan Patel, used and uploaded with his permission)
He laughs again and says it is his livelihood. If you want him to watch he charges 20 dollars. He added he is useful when people fall in or expensive gadgets take a tumble! There have already been 16 cases of people falling in. I asked if he has jumped today? He said yes as a high ranking military man visited and he wanted to see!
I walk away after clicking a picture of him! Then curiosity gets better of me, and I walk back to him. I ask if I can pay him in Indian Rupees? He agrees. I part with 1500 Indian Rupees and wait.
He requests people at the edge to clear a way for him. I am ready with my camera. It gets all over in a flash. He runs, flies and dives head first! I wish I could see it only with my eyes but I see it only through that square box of my viewfinder.
He surfaces and jumps from a shallower rock! Then he climbs the rock and comes back to the top.
I give him a few moments and then the questions start. That interaction is on the video above.
I hug him and tell him to stay safe. As I walk off I wonder if I did the right thing? By paying him was I encouraging him to lead a dangerous life? I don’t know and I don’t judge him for the life he has chosen. I hope you won’t judge me for the choice I made.
PS. I was invited on board the inaugural Chennai Colombo Flight by Indigo 6E and visited Galle as part of the same trip!
As I walked the narrow platform over the cliff, it looked incredibly high. Even though the height was clearly marked at 10 meters it felt like a long distance to the water below. I have done cliff jumping before in Rishikesh. When I realized Cliff Jumping was on my itinerary in Boracay, Philippines too, I said I would decide to jump or not after looking at the cliff. I did it on the Magic Island. Within five minutes of reaching there I was standing at the edge of the platform, staring at the height below. I was ready to do Cliff Jumping in Boracay, Philippines.
At the Magic Island they have build platforms of various heights over the cliff. They are narrow planks protruding over the cliff. That way you are sure you will fall in the deep water below. The platforms start from 3 meters and the highest is 10 meters. My group members started to jump from the lower platforms first.
I knew for sure that I was going to jump only once. I cannot indulge in madness again and again. So I decided to jump straight from 10 meters.
I gave my SLR to one of our tour guides, Chris, and my cell phone to Jun, who was the senior guide on the tour. I figured that between the two someone will get a picture.
As I walked to the platform’s edge, I was scared. I still wanted to go ahead, I do get these fits of craziness. As I was almost on the edge Jun called out, “wait, I need to get your camera started again.” I held the railing and waited for a go ahead from Jun. He called again saying he had my camera back!
This time I quickly walked to the edge, I didn’t give myself much time to think! There was only one way to go, down. I knew from my previous experience that I had to keep my hands close to my body or it would hurt. It was over within seconds. As I surfaced, there was a collective shout of ‘good job’ from friends!
When I went back to them everyone told me I had to do it again as they could not get it on the camera! I replied, “I would not do it at any cost, not for a month at least!” They laughed and showed me the pictures.
And then Ciaran Blumenfeld of Momfluential showed me the slow motion video. I was overjoyed. I can’t thank her enough for making that video. Thanks to her I can relive the moment again and again! My next thought was to share it with the family but in the same breath I knew they would not be thrilled.
When I posted the picture on FB, Seshadri (my husband) simply typed my nickname with a question mark! I told him it was indeed me.
My sister saw the post on Twitter and this was reaction
You are jumping from there? Hen? https://t.co/ln86MPCLri
— Alka Dwivedi (@alka_d) October 18, 2016
When I said yes, she replied galat baat (not good). I told her chup (to keep quiet). My father told me today, “You went in straight but you could get hurt if you went at an angel.” My father never tells me not to do a thing, but it was his roundabout way of saying he was not thrilled at all.
I have already done cliff jumping twice now, so I guess I might do it again! But then I will for sure not jump from something incredibly high. I do not go chasing adventures but when they come my way, I somehow end up engaging with them! You can read more about the cliff jumping activity with prices on this blog from Philippines.
And while I have a lot to write from Philippines, come Wednesday and I should be traveling again!
PS: I was in Philippines as a TBEX Speaker and Boracay was my post TBEX FAM Trip.
When I showed this picture to a friend, he asked, “So did you go down screaming?” To my “no” he added, “I would, because what if that was the last thing I did in life!” I had no such thoughts when I took off that ledge. But the question remains, why did I do it? I obviously have no clear answers. By my day job I am an Associate Professor and people usually do not associate their teachers with adventure travel.
I have to admit I do not go out seeking adventures, they just find me! I was originally not scheduled to go on this trip but at the last moment I had to replace someone! I am not complaining though. It was a rafting trip to Kaudiyala in Uttarakhand. On day one we did the gentle stretch between Devprayag and Kaudiyala. At mid point the organizers (Rimo Expeditions) asked if we would like to do cliff jumping and a lot of us were game.
I still remember very clearly how it felt standing there. In the picture it may not seem very steep but to me who was standing on the edge it looked very high! There were a few who actually walked back from the edge. So when I stood there the person in charge (the first person standing on the ledge towards the water) Gunpalji asked if I really wanted to do it? When I firmly said yes, he asked me to hold the straps of the life jacket or else my hands would hurt when I fell in the water. With a gentle nudge from him I was on my way! It was all over in a few seconds but for the deeply itched memories!
My colleague also asked, “why didn’t you turn back? My answer was, “because there were too many students!”
You see, this was a college trip and I was one of the members of the academic staff on this trip! Many thanks to one of my students who clicked this picture and shared it with me.
This post is part of Alive is Awesome Bathing Experience for Cinthol.