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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

High on life

You learn a lot about yourself and your friends when experiencing an adrenaline rush.
The Straits Times - August 17, 2012
By: Lydia Vasko
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High on life MEGAZIP ADVENTURE PARK. -- ST PHOTOS: PANDORA WONG

You learn a lot about yourself and your friends when experiencing an adrenaline rush.

Everybody's reactions are different.

Give me a high speed roller coaster any day. The more loops, twists and stomachflipping drops the better.

 Heights are another story, especially when I am supposed to be walking across a wire 13m above the ground supported by only a rope, a harness and some metal clips. Yikes.

Taking that first step on a wobbling wire was a totally nerve-racking experience.

Overall, though, I do love a good thrill. In search of the best adrenaline rush in Singapore, I tackled nine different activities. Here are my rush ratings and experiences.

vlydia@sph.com.sg

GX-5 XTREME SWING

I did not expect it, but this ride had me shaking in my boots for an hour afterwards. It is, quite simply, terrifying.

The Xtreme Swing seats five people who are strapped in and then hoisted backwards, ever so slowly, 50m in the air.

I did not stop to think about how high this actually is until I was way up, suspended at a 45-degree angle with nothing between me and certain death but a harness and a complicated metal clip.

The slow ascent to the top gave me plenty of time to think about how my arms and legs were dangling with absolutely nothing to hold on to, and that my sweaty thighs were causing me to slide precariously forward in my seat.

I felt myself beginning to panic as I stared at the people who looked so comfortable on the ground while I was trapped, contemplating the many ways I might die as a result of this life decision.

Indeed, half the adrenaline from this ride comes from the anticipation of falling, rather than the fall itself.

Just as I began to curse my thirst for adrenaline, a green light appeared below signalling that I, the volunteer, would have to push the lever to release us into the swing.

Normally my fear of falling would have caused me to stall as long as possible, but the thought of hanging there any longer was actually scarier than pushing us into free fall.

So, without a second thought, I sent us crashing down at over 120kmh, screaming as we swung back and forth over the Singapore River until the ride was eventually slowed and I was released from my harnesses and shakily made my way away from one of the most frightening experiences of my life.

Rush rate: 10/10

G-MAX REVERSE BUNGY

There are few experiences like suddenly being shot 60m in the air at 200kmh. This is what happens to those brave souls who choose to take a seat on the Reverse Bungy.

Once you are seated and strapped into the open metal capsule, the bungy cords are tightened till taut and then released, sending you, as if from a slingshot, high above Clarke Quay. Once at the top of the trajectory, you roll forward for a few seconds of free fall.

The bungy cords cause you to bounce and spin for a few minutes at varying heights and speeds until you eventually slow down and are lowered to the ground. The scariest part of this ride is the initial shock of being set off like a rocket into the sky. It happens so fast, though, that after screaming for those first few seconds, all I could do was laugh, throw my arms up and enjoy the ride.

Rush rate: 7/10

Where: Clarke Quay, 3 River Valley Road

Open: Noon until late, daily

Cost: $45 a person, $30 for students

Info: Riders must be at least 1.2m tall and over 12 years old. Go to www.gmax.com.sg

THE FLYING TRAPEZE

Flying on the trapeze is a lot harder than it looks. First you have to climb a narrow ladder to an even more narrow platform 7m in the air.

Once you step on the platform, which is less than 30cm wide, an instructor will strap your harness to the safety rope to protect you if you fall. With one hand holding on to the platform support, you must then stretch out your right hand and grasp the trapeze.

Then a move that is both unnatural and unnerving: The instructor will tell you to let go of the platform support and hold on to the trapeze with your other hand, thus suspending the majority of your weight over the edge of the platform with only the instructor holding you back by your harness.

I tried the trapeze three times and each time, I was absolutely terrified by this process.

I was told by the instructors that this was because I was not trusting enough and that I must let go of my fear.

Who knew that for the price of three swings, I would get counselling as well.

When you are ready (I was not), the instructor will let go and you swing on the trapeze, legs dangling down a couple metres above a safety net.

If you can, you will swing your legs up and onto the trapeze, and then let go with your hands, letting yourself hang from your knees.

It took me three rounds to successfully coordinate this movement, though I saw children a quarter of my age do this on the first try.

Hanging upside down from a swinging trapeze was a different kind of fear.

Looking at the world upside down, swinging back and forth, I lost my bearings and everything went blurry.

I thought about what would happen if my knees gave way and I fell head first onto the net but somehow I managed to pull myself up and successfully dismount.

Overall, not a great idea if you have motion sickness, a fear of heights or, as it turns out, trust issues, but who knows, maybe an hour of trapeze may cure all three.

Rush rate: 4/10

Where: Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort, 101 Siloso Road Sentosa

Open: Mondays to Fridays, 2.30 to 6pm; weekends and public holidays, 2.30 to 7pm

Cost: One swing, $10, three swings $20 or $45 for one hour

Info: You must be at least four years old to swing. Go to www.sentosa.com.sg/ en/attractions/beaches/the-flying- trapeze/

iFLY

Ever wanted to try skydiving but are not interested in jumping out of an airplane? Try iFly. Each 45-second flight is like free-falling from 3,657m to about 900m.

You do it in one of the world's largest indoor wind tunnels designed for indoor skydiving. The tunnel is about 5m wide and 17m tall, with a 5m-tall glass window that lets you look out on the South China Sea while two large fans generate enough wind power to keep your body afloat in mid-air.

The entire facility is themed like an airport terminal and skydivers must go through training to learn how to position their bodies before they enter the tunnel for the first time. Slight turns of the wrist and fingers cause you to turn to the left, right or in circles so you need to know what you are doing.

My first two times going into the tunnel were an exhilarating experience and unlike anything I have ever done before.

The thrill of floating in the air is extraordinary but the pressure of the wind is a lot to take. To stay afloat, you have to arch your back quite a lot, which, with the force of the wind, was a little stressful on my lower back.

Typically, the instructor leads you through some basic exercises on your first time in the tunnel. If he thinks you are ready, he will lead you higher up.

On my third attempt, my instructor must have thought I was a lot more gutsy than I really am and took me, spinning, into the upper reach of the tunnel, about 4m above the mesh floor.

We started spinning at what felt like 60kmh because of the wind speed, though video footage reveals it to be much slower than that.

Between the spinning, the wind speed and the height at which we were flying, I thought my heart was going to fall right out of my chest. Absolutely petrified of making a movement that would cause us to fall, I had no choice but to close my eyes, swear under my breath and wait to get back down to the ground.

Otherwise, it was fantastic fun.

Rush rate: 6/10

Where: 43 Siloso Beach Walk, 01-01

Open: Mondays to Sundays, 9am to 10pm (first flight at 10.30am), except Wednesdays, 10.30am to 10pm (first flight at noon)

Cost: Rates are broken down into normal, off-peak and super off-peak hours and child (seven to 12), student and adult prices. Visitors can choose between The Challenge (two rides) or The Adventure (four rides).

During normal hours, for example, The Challenge costs $89 for adults, $85 for students and $79 for children.

Info: You must be seven years old or more to fly. For more details and to pre-book your flight time, go to www.iflysingapore.com

MEGAZIP ADVENTURE PARK

The Park has a number of activities but these three gave the most adrenaline rush.

ClimbMax

The heights and precarious tasks you must conquer on this 13m-high rope adventure course keep your heart pounding and also give you a full body workout.

Participants walk across narrow beams (right), tightrope wires, through rope nets and across swinging planks to make it through the three-level course, which gets more difficult with every level. It starts at 5m high.

I found the tasks which required me to walk across a thin wire the most difficult due to my fear of heights. Stepping off the comfort of the plank at each level was stressful. But this is quickly forgotten in the struggle to make it across the ropes.

The strength and endurance it took to make it across some of the challenges were exhausting, which make this activity as strenuous as it is invigorating.

Rush rate: 5/10

Cost: $35

Info: You must be at least 1.2m tall.

MegaZip

At 75m high, 450m long and with top speeds of about 50kmh, a breezy ride on the MegaZip is great after a sweaty day on the beach or tackling the ClimbMax course.

Once my harness was strapped to the zip line, I felt nervous hanging there for a few seconds before they suddenly released me down the line.

After that, though, it was hard to feel afraid as I sailed over Sentosa tree tops with the wind in my hair. The ride is so smooth, I could really relax.

It is a fun activity for the whole family, too. Kids can ride tandem with their parents once they are 90cm tall, and unaccompanied if they are above 1.2m.

You will probably want to go on the MegaZip again. Repeat rides are $20 during peak hours.

Rush rate: 5/10

Cost: $35 for single ride

ParaJump

Above the rope course is a platform for people addicted to the adrenaline rush. It involves jumping straight from the platform to the ground 15m below.

You are supported by a safety harness which slows you down as you get closer to the ground, to ensure a safe landing.

You are meant to jump on the count of three but it took me at least a count of nine before I closed my eyes and jumped.

Making that jump was one of the hardest and most terrifying activities of this assignment. My advice: Do not look down. The fall is over before you know it. Taking that first step is more terrifying than the fall itself.

Rush rate: 6/10

Cost: $15 a jump

Where: Imbiah Hill Road, Sentosa

Open: 11am to 7pm daily

Info: Go to www.megazip.com.sg

SINGAPORE XD THEATER

Everyone has heard of 3-D, but 6-D? This is the experience being touted at the XD Theater (right), a 3-D movie and simulator in one.

The mini theatre at Singapore Flyer opened about a month ago and consists of 10 individual seats which jerk, jolt and shake in time with the 3-D film on the screen.

There are coordinated wind effects and flashing lights to create what the theatre calls a 6-D motion ride experience.

XD Theater currently has four short movies on rotation. Ravine Racer, Canyon Coaster and Cosmic Coaster are about six minutes long and give the viewer a roller-coaster-like experience in a desert, canyon and outer space.

Jet And Jin is about three minutes long and features a more relaxed ride and storyline for young children.

Each movie has a different 6-D intensity level and the theatre operator will choose a film based on discussions about comfort level with the audience.

But if it does become too much at any point in the ride, riders can unbuckle their seat belt to stop the chair's movements.

My favourite was the Ravine Racer, which sends you on a high-speed aerocraft which races through a boulder-strewn desert, down into deep ravines and caves, while dodging other racers in Star Wars-like aero-craft along the way.

It was an invigorating experience and the wind and lights do actually add to the authenticity of the ride. My hair was whipped into knots by the force of the wind, and the movement of the chair resembled the turns of a plane.

However, my friends preferred the Canyon Coaster, a ride through an abandoned mine. This film has more jolts and vibrations to simulate a rickety, wooden coaster.

The 3-D film makes you feel like you are speeding through a tight tunnel while dodging large wooden crates and beams that might topple down on you.

While my group remained relatively quiet, screams from the next group of riders reverberated throughout the Flyer complex.

The coaster rides are great for people who are too nervous to go on a real roller coaster but want to experience some of the thrill. It cannot substitute the real thing, though.

Rush rate: 3/10

Where: The Singapore Flyer, 30 Raffles Avenue, 02-09

Open: 9am to 11pm daily

Cost: $20 an adult, $18 a child (six to 13 years old). Get $4 off a person until the end of next month as a special introductory offer.

Info: Go to www.singaporeflyer.com

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

I must confess, I love rollercoasters so I experienced nothing but giddy joy on this adrenaline ride.

Reportedly the world's tallest duelling roller coaster - it is 42.5m at its highest point - Battlestar Galactica at Universal Studios Singapore is actually two roller coasters in one.

The Cylon (above) is a blue, suspended roller coaster, which means your feet hang in the open with seats suspended from above, whereas on the Human, the red roller coaster, there are seats which allow you to place your feet on the rollercoaster floor. Both rides spend 90 seconds looping around each other, reaching top speeds of 90kmh.

The Cylon is, in my opinion, the more thrilling of the two. It has a set of corkscrews which spin you around, and two loops which flip you upside down and thrust you down into a mist so thick you cannot see what lies ahead.

It is a terrifying prospect if you have not ridden on it before.

Veteran roller-coaster riders usually have a preference for the very front or the very back of the ride.

I found the back of the Cylon the most enjoyable. When I sat on the back, outer edge, I could see the roller coaster as it twisted, turned and flipped in front of me, the legs of other passengers swinging in and out according to the torque of the ride.

This added to the psychological thrill of the ride, which would have even more loops and drops if I had my way.

Rush rate: 8/10

Where: Universal Studios Singapore, 11 Sentosa East Mall

Open: 10am to 7pm daily

Cost: Day passes during the peak period cost $74 an adult from 13 to 64 years old, $36 for seniors above 65 years old, $54 a child between four and 12 years old.

Info: You must be at least 1.25m tall to ride. Go to www.rwsentosa.com/ Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore

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