Friday, April 04, 2008

Poor Knights Islands Scuba Dive Trip, New Zealand

Once again, I haven't posted in a while, but this last little excursion I went on to the Poor Knights Islands was worthy of blogging. From the 20th of March to the 25th of March, Lori, Kevin, Jalil, and I flew up to the northern part of New Zealand to get our advanced open water scuba diving certifications at one of Jacques Cousteau's top ten dive sites in the world.

I kept a journal on when we lived on the boat and kept a brief record of the dives we did. You will find that below. Also, I brought my little Canon digital elph - an SD850IS - with its underwater housing and was able to capture some pictures and I edited together a video, both linked below the long journal. Go grab a coffee and sit back and enjoy the show! Note - journal is pretty long - and the video is about 35 minutes total, so make sure you don't have better things to do before investing your precious time!

My Pics of the trip.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

My writing, hand-writing, that is, has been extremely messy lately. I don't know why, but my hand writing was so neat in the second grade. I will try to write neater but I make no promises that it will get any better as you read this. The first day off from work was exciting. I haven't taken a holiday in New Zealand for a while now and I was off to get my Advanced Open Water certification at one of Jacques Cousteau's top ten dive sites in the world -- the Poor Knights' Islands. The plane ride was pretty standard, as I've taken many flights from Wellington to Auckland now. Jalil and Kevin sat behind me (the two animators from Weta), clutching their Playstation Portables (PSP) playing "Killzone" with each other. As they shot bad guys with their automatic weapons together, I glanced outside the window and spotted Mt. Ruapehu and Mt. Nguarahoe (the filming location of Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings) on my right. Also, on my left, I saw Mt. Taranaki - almost a perfect cone shape - used in "The Last Samurai" as Mt. Fuji. The landing was quite smooth in Auckland.

Once we gathered our checked bags, which consisted mainly of dive bags full of SCUBA equipment we hired from Splash Gordon - the company organizing the trip, Kevin called the rental car company we booked and they picked us up in a shuttle. We scored a nice big station wagon (Nissan Avenir) that was able to hold all of our luggage. Driving up the Northeast coast of New Zealand was pretty beautiful, even when we were a little inland and couldn't see the ocean. When we got hungry, we stopped at a kebab shop and picked up some Doner Kebabs. We all pretty much got the same kind (lamb + chicken combo) except for Craig Brady, who joined us for our drive from Auckland to Whangarei (he flew up from Wellington as well for this scuba trip).

Once we arrived in Whangarei, the views were still amazing, but our first stop was the dairy in Ngunguru, for alcohol and snacks - oh and of course, water. We drove a short way to our destination in Tutukaka Bay, where the boat we would be living in for the next five days was docked. We met up with the rest of the dive team (except for the Canadians) at a fancy joint called "Schnappa Rock" and had a beer. After that, and introductions, we went over to a boating club that was next to our boat for a meal and some more drinks. Our dive instructors tried to trick us by saying that all Advanced Open Water Course students had to swim 400 metres in the ocean and tread water for 20 minutes plus an additional 5 minutes with our hands above the water. We were really scared at first, so Kevin, Jalil, Lori, and I (the original group of students for the regular Open Water course) went back to the boat to discuss it. We realized that they were probably just bullshitting us because of the inconsistencies they were telling us about the requirements. Finally, one of the other dive masters on our trip came to the boat and put our worries to rest after we talked about it for a little while. "There's no 400 metre swim." Thank heavens! I knew I could sleep well in the first night on the boat!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Woke up to the sound of rustling blankets and people walking about. We were sleeping on the floor of the main cabin on these mattress pads that were actually tolerable. After I brushed my teeth and washed my face, the smell of crackling bacon was emanating from the boat next door. It seemed like they noticed everyone on our boat staring and drooling at their streaky bacon, so before I knew it, their boat was pulling away from the dock. It was pretty quiet that morning, either from the longing for crispy bacon or the excitement of diving at the Poor Knights'. I think it was the latter. I never thought I'd be getting my Advanced Open Water certification, but the chance to do this at one of the top 10 dives in the world was just too good to pass up! Kev, Jalil and I took our "Paihia bombs", which were fancy New Zealand seasickness pills. Lori had already taken them right when she got up - and probably for the better. After our briefing, the boat was well underway for its one hour journey to the Islands and we three were feeling pretty woozy! The pills seemed to have made us a little nauseous, but it was probably all in our heads at that point. Arriving at the Poor Knights, we didn't feel too bad anymore - I focused my eyes on the horizon and the islands on the way and everything felt better.

At first I was a bit nervous for our first dive because my ears were clogged when the boat stopped - I couldn't equalize the pressure in my ears! I just calmed myself down a bit and after gearing up, I was all good again. We did three dives today - the orientation boat dive (just getting used to everything - the equipment, the water), the underwater navigation dive - with a compass, and the night dive - with "torches" - or flashlights in "American." The first dive was great and almost too much to take in because I had my camera in its new underwater housing (case) and saw so many different fish. The second dive was a bit more complicated with our navigation skills to complete. I was able to swim in a straight line for 30 metres, but when it came time to swim in a 30 metres X 30 metres square, I got distracted by a giant "flying" sting ray. This caused me to turn right instead of left for my square and Derek, one of the dive instructors, pulled my fin and signalled for me to turn around! I only got more confused at this point and ended up swimming a triangle instead of a square! Whoops. Derek just told me to be more careful and think next time. The third dive was very impressive as well. It was my first ever night dive, and first ever dive in a cave - it was called "Riko Riko" - magnificent dark underwater landscapes illuminated by all of our torches.

Oh, and I forgot to talk about food! After the first dive, we had some yummy ham + smoked marlin sandwiches. We were all wide-eyed and smiley when dinner came around. Lamb shanks with mashed potatoes and peas. They were simply delicious and a great job by the lovely chefs (and boat owners): Mark and Denise! After a bit of digestion, we did that night dive in the cave. Again, the torches underwater and the little glow sticks we had tied on the back of the tank were awesome, and reminded me of being a character in a Tom Clancy novel/movie as a special forces spy agent extraordinaire! After the night dive, I had a couple of beers with everyone and then went to bed. Unfortunately, I was a sleeping buffet for the "mozzies." The goddamn mosquitoes. Apparently they like Chinese food (a.k.a. my blood!).

Saturday, 22 March 2008

We woke up bright and early at 7:00 a.m. when the boat motor started and we made our way out of Riko Riko Cave and to the Middle Arch to do our "Deep Dive" course. The water was very clear and we went to a depth of 28.4 metres. We saw a giant stingray as we descended and a moray eel lazying about as we started to ascend. We saw the effects of pressure change in a tennis ball and a loss of color, or change of color, of a red balloon. Of course, I just saw it change from light grey to dark grey when the torch was shone on it, as I am colorblind! Jalil didn't quite have it in him to finish the deep dive, so he decided to wait it out. Everyone should dive at their own pace. After this, we had a nice scrambled eggs on toast "brekkie" and were energized for our second dive, which took place at the "Nursery". This was a beautiful dive as well. We saw a giant stingray hiding in the sand at the bottom. Also, I saw my first nudibranchs - which are these tiny and colorful sea slugs. The pictures only turned out so-so, but I vowed I would get some better ones on the next dives!

After eating some apples and oranges and resting for a bit, we went over to the Northern Arch on a small little cruise. It was nice to sit on the front of the boat and go past giant islands that all looked like a face or a body. When we got to the other side of the Northern Arch, we spotted some big schools of Blue Mao Mao fish swimming on the surface of the water. This behavior indicated that larger predatorial fish were below, feeding. We saw a bunch of Kingfish and Snapper. The dive there was kind of tiring, and I actually didn't see anything new - but it was great practice and endurance training.

Evening came around and we had steak and potatoes for dinner. At nightfall, the original team of divers: Lori, Jalil, Kevin, and I were back in the water again to do a night dive at Middle Arch. Since Kevin and I already did our course (navigating in the night), we were able to bring our cameras this time. The highlights were a big stingray (just out of view of the camera) and a yellow moray eel, which I was able to video and photograph. By the end of the day, I was pretty exhausted (4 dives in a day!), but also proud of myself for doing all that!

Also, my breathing underwater got better because I ended up with more air than usual in my tank after the night dive. I had some wine with everyone and after some chattin', went pretty much straight to bed! I was "knackered", as they say.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Bright and early again at 7:00 a.m., the boat motor started and we woke up to the nice view of the Middle Arch (the original side we did our deep dive on). Another full day of diving ahead of us! We all pretty much had a nice sleep, except when I woke up I was covered in Mosquito bites. Some old and some new. The old ones were starting to swell up a bit and became the pain in the arse they usually are. When our boat arrived in Ngaio Rock, our first dive site, I took off my shirt to put on my wetsuit and Allison said my back looked like a pin cushion, covered in bites! "No matter, it didn't feel itchy underwater," I said. The first dive we did that day was the first one Kevin and I did without an instructor. We descended with Lisa (instructor), and after greeting a grey moray eel and a scorpion fish together, we departed the group and swam around Ngaio Rock on our own. It all went pretty well - I was able to keep up with Kev, take some nice swim-through videos, and have enough air to swim around the whole rock and get back safely. Kevin spotted Jalil in the distance completing his deep dive course with Derek. He tried to signal this to me by spelling "J-A-L-I-L" underwater, but I wasn't getting it, and I was about ready to start my safety stop at 5 metres for 3 minutes with the air that I had left.

Then we had a bit of "second breakfast" (the first breakfast everyday includes cereal and peaches). The second breakfast was sloppy joes. More beef. Oh well - I figure I need the protein for all the exercise I'm getting here!

Our second dive of the day was at the wall behind Ngaio Rock - and it is called "Magic Wall." It was teeming with life - including fish, nudibranchs - the little sea slugs (clown ones), sea urchin, moray eels, scorpion fish, and lots of happy divers. I scored some great photographs of the nudibranchs this time! I also found a sea urchin that had a colorful reflective pattern under its spikes. This dive was completely on our own (Kev and I) and we saw 7 or 8 nudibranchs on the magic wall. Afterwards, we came back for lunch and exchanged stories. Lori saw a huge moray eel when she went to the magic wall with Lisa. Jalil went with old Pete to an area called "The Lost World", where he was able to emerge in a bunch of greenery under a cave at some point. I'm anxious to see if we can go there eventually.

After lunch, which was bacon and egg and salmon quiches with sausage rolls, we took a little cruise through the Southern Arches. Got some videos and photos of these amazing formations. After that, we anchored near Blue Mao Mao Arch, and I sat on the front of the boat, getting all caught up with journal writing. Nice ocean breeze and sunshine. I think I'll go inside the boat now before my sunblock stops working! After that I just took a little nap inside and we were debriefed on our next dive at the Blue Mao Mao Arch. This was pretty much the most adventurous dive to date for me because we swam through an underwater tunnel/archway/cave against relatively strong currents. Also, Kevin almost backed into an eagle stingray on the sea floor but I warned him about it just in time. The current was so strong in the tunnel that it shot me out the exit and I was close to hitting something on the rock - but made it out of there safe and sound. As we explored the "labyrinth" around the exit of the arch, we saw a whole line/school of Desmoiselles - little black fish with two spots on them - swimming in a line right past us. I got a pretty cool video swimming through them. After exploring around a little bit, we had to swim against a pretty substantial current to get back to the boat. It was the first time we used a current line on this trip to get ourselves back onto the boat, but it was definitely do-able.

Right when I got back and dried off a bit, I was bitten by 3 mozzies -- and each time I could feel their needle mouths poke into my skin! But then Denise gave us all chocolate Easter eggs for Easter Sunday and all was well again.

Our last dive of the day was a dusk dive, which was at "Landing Bay Pinnacle". Jalil was ready to dive with us and this time Lori took a rest. This was an interesting dive because we went into the water as the sun was setting. The lighting down there was pretty beautiful. This dive was pretty cool as well because a humongous school of Desmoiselles were in the water with us. Kevin swam out a little ways from the Pinnacle rock to swim in the middle of the giant school of fish and he said it was mesmerizing and trippy. I wish I had brought my camera out there to swim with him because the wall of fish was so huge that it seemed like an unlimited number of fish!

Dinner was good when we got back on the boat - it was spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread.

Monday, 24 March 2008

This was our last day of diving, and we would do three more dives before 2 p.m., so we could have a safe cushion of time before we flew up in the air to get back to Wellington the next day because of the altitude pressure that we put our bodies through when we scuba dived. Our first dive of the morning was at "Serpent Rock", where Lori, Brady, Kevin and I dove and saw another large school of Desmoiselles. These french-named fish were so common at the Poor Knights'! This school wasn't as big as the one we saw last night at the Landing Bay Pinnacle, but I was determined to swim out there and get some video of them! They were still an impressive number and we also saw a school of blue mao mao merge with them. A couple of good-sized kingfish swam with us as well. Kevin took the camera and video'd this time, filling up one of the memory cards!

Breakfast was yummy again - scrambled eggs on toast and also some spaghetti. Our second dive of the day was the "Underwater Naturalist" dive. Originally we were supposed to dive the ship wreck a little further away from the Poor Knights' Islands, but the weather conditions were not good enough for that (storm surges), so we stayed at the Islands a little longer instead and did this other dive, which was pretty fun as well! We dove at the mouth of the Riko Riko Cave this time, and our mission was to find and identify 3 types of vertebrates, 3 types of invertebrates, and 3 types of plants in the water. I got pictures of tons of fish, nudibranchs, a starfish, an eel, sponges and plants as well. The most interesting thing we saw was the John Dory fish, which was pretty ugly looking, but his fins were amazing to watch as they oscillated him through the water.

Lunch was yummy - oven baked pizza with paprika, onions, mushroom and sausage. After the yummy pizza, we did our last and final dive of the trip at "Trevor's Rocks". This place was pretty amazing because it wasn't very deep and the sunlight came in and lit everything up extremely well. There was also a small cave we swam through and a bunch of small canyons and tunnels as well. I got some neat pictures of fish and nudibranchs as well. It was great fun to swim around take pics and videos and at this point, I filled all of my memory cards!

After we successfully completed 14 dives, we all celebrated with some beer and the boat headed back to Tutukaka Bay, where we started from on the shore. We had a few drinks and ate dinner at the boating club again. Then we went back to the boat and watched Family Guy - Star Wars and Transformers! We were all very knackered after this and slept for our last night on the boat! Mark said there wouldn't be any mozzies once we got to shore, so I didn't wear any socks because it was hot. However, I woke up with more mosquito bites on my neck and the bottom of my foot!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Kevin and I were complaining about more mosquito bites because we weren't expecting them on shore - but we should've known better! We had hung our gear up to dry the afternoon before when we got back to Tutukaka Bay, and we woke up at 7 to pack it all up for our journey home. We stuck to a schedule of leaving the boat by 8 a.m., and we were right on schedule. I drove the car this time (Kevin drove coming here), and we stopped in Whangarei to have some coffee/breakfast. I ate a savoury ham+cheese muffin and a large flat white :). I continued driving and I must have done something right because we arrived in Auckland at the car rental place to return the car at exactly the right time - 11:53 a.m. The shuttle came to pick us up at around 12:15 p.m., got us to the airport at around 12:28 p.m. We checked in at the airport and all of our bags on time and got onto the plane at 12:45 p.m. to depart exactly at 1:00 p.m. and arrive in Wellington at 2:00 p.m. We were so perfect on time, it was amazing!

All in all, this trip was definitely a great experience, and I'm glad I did it!

And finally, the video:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wow, it's been a year!

Time flies when you're in another country. Haven't posted in a while, but just wanted to note, probably for myself more than anything, that I've survived an entire year in another country. So much has happened, yet in the blink of an eye. Almost like a dream! You know how dreams in reality are only about a few seconds, but so much happens in them. It's kinda like that! Anyways, Halloween came and went in sort of a whisper, but I tried to celebrate it with a bang! Here was my costume - I know, so flash:

The real bang came on a holiday called "Guy Fawkes Day", which if you've seen V for Vendetta, you should be familiar with - the British dude who attempted to blow up parliament in the UK. I'm not sure if they celebrate such a holiday over there, but Wellington gets a big fireworks display on the Fifth of November. I managed to capture some pics on my simple point and shoot which was pretty cool. You can check them out here.

Anyways, back to work for me. But you can see some more of my recent goings on in my picasa web album (linked to the right). Pictures are worth more than, well.. you know ;)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Australia, Stop 2.5: Port Douglas + Opal Reef, 15 Aug - 18 Aug

The weather was a bit wintery upon arrival, but it was still relatively warm compared to Melbourne or Wellington. It even rained a little bit that night, but I was still able to walk around in shorts and a light shirt, which was nice... almost forgot that it could be warm while it was raining thanks to Wellington! =) Anyways, we ate dinner at a Mexican Restaurant called "Tortillas" on the main street of Port Douglas, which was chock full of touristy shops where you could book trips out to the Great Barrier Reef. This little town was actually very beautiful in its own right - you could just feel that it was a more exclusive town than Cairns, like old, rich people lived there or something.

Afterwards, we hit up a local pub down the street a bit for a quick beer, near the Anzac Park (about a 3 minute walk away). A live band was playing so that drew us in. I think this was when I realized there were a lot (A LOT) of cover bands in Australia (the first one we saw was actually down in Melbourne). Not that there's anything wrong with cover bands - it's fun to hear songs you know and the slightly different variations people add based on their particular styles. The singer had a great voice, the guitarists had mad skills, and the keyboard/saxophonist/singer girl was pretty good too. It was only about 10 p.m. but time for bed because the next morning was the journey to Opal Reef, one of the outer less-crowded sections of the Great Barrier Reef!

And great it was. I think that Pixar movie Finding Nemo kind of spoiled my expectations of what the reef would look like, what with all of its vibrant colors and HD resolution, heh heh. But kidding aside, this is definitely one of the great wonders of the world. It's simply amazing how diverse the flora and fauna are in this marine park, the largest in the world. It's sad to think that this amazing structure will disappear one day, but it's good to know that Australia is doing as much as they can to conserve this gem of the world. Yeah, I'm sounding preachy and a little bit like Leonardo DiCaprio now, but the tourguides on our boat (I only remember Kenny's name) were extremely nice and honest people, giving us some great insight into the Great Barrier Reef.

On the final full day in Port Douglas, we checked out the rainforest Habitat, which was like a little wildlife park containing many of the indigenous animals and birds of rainforests and other niches of Australia. Giant birds walked by and koalas munched on eucalyptus leaves nearby. I even got to pet a kangaroo! Cheesy and touristy, I know, but definitely fun. Even got to pretend to act like a crocodile hunter - well, maybe just take a picture next to a croc or two in their pen, a safe distance away!

There were also some great waterfront restaurants and even more cover bands, and it was definitely nice to continue the theme of R&R in this little town! The last morning we checked out the famous lookout point, from which we could see the whole of the "Four Mile Beach"...The view was pretty gorgeous, with the mountains and the ocean in the distance...

Next stop: back to Cairns briefly and then a quick stop in Sydney!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Australia, Stop 2: Cairns, 14 Aug - 15 Aug

Cairns, our second stop in Australia, was really just a launching point for our real destination, The Great Barrier Reef, which deserves a post of its own. Nevertheless, Cairns was very beautiful in its own right, with its tropical temperatures and bright sunshine. If I could steal one thing about Cairns and bring it to Wellington, it wouldn't be the crazy party scene at night (which got a bit tiresome after a short while), nor would it be the curious little lung fish that crawled and twisted on the mud awkwardly like little, slimey sock puppets with no feet. No, it'd be the flippin' nice, warm, slightly humid, comfortable-in-your-shorts-and-sandals weather of the place! We walked around the small little town pretty quickly, and opted not to go to the botanical gardens because we've seen enough of those and just chilled a bit. But it was definitely nice to stroll lazily through the tropical warmth that was Cairns. It really felt like we were on holiday at this point, just relaxing! Indeed it was a great little break before our next adventure to come in Port Douglas, just an hour by shuttle north of Cairns (where our boat charter to the Great Barrier Reef would be)!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Australia, Stop 1: Melbourne, 11 Aug - 13 Aug

Howdy folks, wise men say "pictures are worth more than a thousand words", so here's a link to my somewhat bloated album of Melbourne (totally felt like one of the many asian tourists in Australia). For some reason I felt compelled to take as many pictures as possible because this was my first real "holiday" in another country (not counting New Zealand because I came here to work). Anyways, one of the best things about Melbourne was its variety of places to eat! We had so many different restaurant experiences, and they were all excellent!

First place we ate at was this hip and trendy bar/restaurant called "Bear Brass". Don't ask me what that means, I was too tired from the plane ride to ask the waiters. Wiebke and I ordered some grilled haloumi (a cheese) and some steamed pork wontons, which were all exquisitely garnished. The portions were a little small, but we didn't mind as we had a really good tall glass of "Pure Blonde" - an Australian beer that I've come to like the most. The view was amazing to boot! We overlooked the Yarra River and had a panoramic view of Melbourne's cityscape - simply amazing.

Next, for dinner, we hit up a recommended polish restaurant called "Borsch, Vodka & Tears". Don't let the name of the place fool ya! The food actually tasted really good. I had a chicken schnitzel with mash potatoes and it was heavenly. They also have a huge variety of vodkas of different flavors, most of which I've never heard before. We tried a few vodkas and ate a lot of good food, followed by a taste of the local nightlife scene in St. Kilda (the suburb of Melbourne in which this restaurant resides), which was way better than expected - good times!

The following morning we had a big, hearty breakfast at a nice little cafe, and I ordered the "omelette of the day", which was amazing. The scrambled eggs on toast that Wiebke ordered were nice and fluffy as well - everything was made to perfection. The only funny thing was that one of the waitresses was arguing with the boss behind us because she couldn't speak English very well. I didn't really mind because I hadn't had an omelette for a very long time, and it hit the spot.

Besides food, there was a lot of other attractions to Melbourne. You'll see most of the things we saw in my photo album, but among the big things we saw was the 20 Years of Pixar Art Exhibit at the Federation Square building. They wouldn't let us take pictures inside, but there were clay maquettes, concept paintings, and videos demonstrating the brilliant art from all of Pixar's films, including the early shorts. We also checked out some museums and walked around Chinatown (where we had authentic Hong Kong style wonton noodle soup and I used my excellent cantonese to order, w00t!) and much of the entire town. Their tram system is very efficient and for just a few dollars, you can pretty much traverse the length of town and even head down to the St. Kilda suburb in less than 20 minutes!

The final day we visited and walked around Albert Park, which is most famous for, notably, the Formula 1 race circuit that surrounds its beautiful park and lake. Being a Formula 1 fan, I geeked out a little as I was able to walk on the tarmac road that the likes of Schumacher, Alonso, and Raikkonen have raced on at speeds in excess of well,... more well than you can imagine! Look for the picture of me walking over and straddling the checkered finish line! Woot!

All in all, Melbourne was a beautiful city and I felt like we accomplished a lot in just 3 days! Next post, Cairns, Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Post in August

Hey folks, I've been busy doing a lot of stuff in the past month or so since I've talked to you and I hope you've been keeping up to date on my web album photos!

Anyways, I just recently got back from a trip to Australia last week, and I've taken 4 GB worth of photos and videos!!! Thank god for canon digital elph cameras' ability to read 4GB SD cards! Originally, I was going to take last week off to travel around the South Island of New Zealand and maybe even Japan, but those plans fell through when my friend Eric couldn't make it over because of work. Anyways, I still had that time off, so I decided to leave it around just in case another opportunity might happen to come up... and it did! My friend Wiebke, from Germany, was going to do a month trip in Australia as part of her work/holiday down here in the Southern Hemisphere, so we decided to head over to the land of Oz for a week together - the week that I had conveniently requested to be off! It worked out really well and we had a fantastic time!

My itinerary was: Wellington -> Melbourne -> Cairns -> Port Douglas -> Great Barrier Reef -> Port Douglas -> Cairns -> Sydney -> Wellington. That's a lot of stuff to do in 9 days, and I'll be posting about each city and revealing photos from each place as I go along.

There's a small map of my trip and again, I had a wonderful time! Next post - Melbourne!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Auckland Sky Jump

The Sky Tower "Sky Jump" in Auckland was great... partly because we all got coupons that gave us a pair of free photos. Anyways, here were my photos, and you can bet all your money that I had thought about this well in advance, heheh.

The jump consisted of being strapped into a harness on a wire that they accelerate you straight down 630 feet up to 85 kph. The wire slows down near the end of the jump so you land on a target (a little hard - enough to thrill you, but not break you). The scariest part is making the first 30 foot leap before the photo is taken, because that is when you experience a brief freefall from 630 feet. But after that it's all fun and you feel like a movie stunt double/superhero!