The good thing about being a blogger is that you get to experience things you probably never would if you weren’t a blogger.
The bad thing is that, sometimes, you find yourself stuck in very high places.
I was recently invited to put my courage to the test at the Safra Adventure Sports Centre, where all kinds of adventure await the brave and the thrill-seeking.
I was first put on Singapore’s only Canopy Challenge Walk (CCW), a 100m walk through the tree-tops of Yishun Park, suspended on a height of 18 metres.
Eighteen metres is about as tall as a six-storey building!!!!
Looking at the trail from the ground, the CCW looked like a walk in the park.
I will never overestimate myself again!!
Being at that height and not having something firm beneath your feet is about as scary as it can get!
Well, it is literally a walk in the park, except that you have to walk on thin wooden planks which are supported by ropes that sway crazily when you move through them, sometimes having to fight off leaves and branches from the tree-tops that are sharing your space.
The worst part is that the wooden-plank trail is only one quarter of the trek. If you manage to survive the planks, you are rewarded by having to walk on ropes next!
And after you complete that (above), you will have to go through THIS (below) to get to safety.
One look at that and my face turned white.
Can you imagine walking through that with the knowledge that the ground is so freaking far away that you’d need to take a space shuttle to reach it?
Ashamedly, my friends and I only made it through the first section (the planks).
Looking at it from the ground, I really thought I could complete the course even with my fear of heights.
But actually being up there, clinging on to ropes that sway with your every movement, makes you want to just hug something solid and never let go.
Even getting through the planks required the most steely resolve I could muster. I tried to exercise mind over matter by telling myself, “This is fun! I’m enjoying it!” every step of the way.
It did work. It transformed hysterical paranoia to just simple heart-pumping fear.
Admittedly, the CCW is actually very safe. Before being allowed on it, we had to strap ourselves in safety harnesses.
I took Minou and Kerrendor with me for this adventure.
Minou was as scared as I was, if not more. But Kerrendor was very gutsy. He was my photographer that day and even stopped in the middle of the trail several times, one hand holding on to the rope while the other hand held the camera, to take photos.
For girls with long hair, it’s recommendated that you tie your hair up instead of letting it fly around like mine.
After putting on our helmets, Minou said she felt like Super Mario.
Then we were strapped to steel cables by a yellow lifeline which would follow us through the trail to prevent us from falling to the ground in case we missed our footing.
Then it began!
Iskandar, our guide, followed closely behind us to offer us assistance if we needed any.
After what seemed like forever, we finally arrived at the first docking station, which is a tiny wooden island with a pole which I wanted to cling tightly to and cry and vow never to leave it.
Of course, I did nothing of the sort.
We gungho-ly posed for photos even though we were paranoid that the wind was going to blow us off our wooden island.
And then it was time to turn back. (Normally, one would carry on with the tight-rope walking, but we felt that that activity was better left to the experts.)
I was quite brave, if I may say so myself. My yellow lifeline somehow kept brushing my face on my trek back, so I kept having to use one hand to adjust it, while leaving only one hand on the rope while walking!
My heart kept screaming at me, “BOTH HANDS ON THE ROPES YOU IDIOT!!!”
In any case, we all made it back before our hearts imploded on us.
That was quite an adventure. I’m glad Iskandar allowed us to turn back after the first segment, although I’m ashamed that I didn’t complete the course.
Rock climbing next! OMG.
The Adventure Sports Centre in Safra Yishun has five different kinds of climbing facilities, including ice climbing, sport climbing, crack climbing, slab climbing and indoor boulder climbing. You can check them out here.
I got to try the tallest free-standing sport climbing wall in Singapore, which goes as high up as 25 metres.
Again, I overestimated myself. I thought I could maybe make it at least one-third of the way up. But I only made it up like five metres, if even that.
IT’S VERY SCARY LAH!!!
In fact, I wanted to quit the moment I got on the first anchors because this challenge is seriously harder than it looks.
But Dean, my climbing instructor, kept egging me on to go higher and higher, telling me which anchors to grab on, until I got to this part where the rocks above my head began to jut out.
When you’re in that position, it just looks impossible to scale. It feels like you’re going to slip and fall because you can’t see the next anchors and your hands are slimy with cold sweat and your feet simply refuse to move.
I was also worried about the descent. The higher you go, the more distance you have to fall when you’re done!!
The safety harness for the climbing is not as elaborate as that for the CCW.
But it’s just as safe. You’re strapped to a belay device, which allows your instructor to keep you in the air even if you were to let go of the anchors (I didn’t know that before, which helped to fan the paranoia).
And when you’re ready to come down, your instructor will belay you down as slowly or as quickly as you want.
It’s all very simple and safe.
BUT NO LESS SCARY.
Dean showed me where to step when I first began.
The first step was quite easy.
It gets exponentially harder!
See the green anchor I have my left hand on (above)? I had to put my left foot on it next.
IT IS FREAKING FAR. You really have to stretch all your limbs to get to the next anchors.
You need strong arms for this, too.
Next step up: Right foot had to travel all the way up to waist level to step on the next anchor.
I don’t know how I did it. I just did, with Dean’s encouragement.
I was, like, “I can’t do this anymore!” *wail*
And he was, like, “Yes you can. Put your right hand on the next anchor.”
“Can I come down now?”
“Argh! I can’t go any higher!”
“Yes you can!”
So I went higher and higher.
See how far my left foot had to travel in one step:
I felt like Spiderman.
Anyway, that was as far as I went. It started drizzling at this point and I didn’t want to be stuck on that wall in the rain.
And it was getting impossible.
So, when Dean told me to stretch my right hand out and grab hold of one particular anchor which looked to me like it belonged in another continent, I put my right foot down, instead.
He finally relented. “Okay you can come down,” he said.
“How do I come down?”
“Just let go.”
“WHAT?!!!! You’re joking, right?”
“No, just let go.”
“Can I climb down the way I climbed up?”
At this point, you’re supposed to hold on to the rope attached to your harness and your instructor will bring you down.
Of course, I didn’t know at that time that the speed of your descent can be controlled. I thought it was all up to gravity, and I let go very unwillingly.
I screamed the entire way down.
In retrospect, it wasn’t all that scary.
But it was definitely fun. I want to do this again!
Minou and Kerrendor didn’t get to try it because the drizzle started to get heavier and heavier.
I took one last photo before dashing off for shelter.
Me and Dean!
I need a Safra Country Club membership!! It can be used at any of the four Safra Clubs (Mount Faber, Yishun, Tampines and Toa Payoh). Each club boasts a different specialty, although all of them also have the regular facilities you’d expect to find in a country club.
Safra Yishun is the most exciting, since it houses the Adventure Sports Centre as well as an indoor air weapons range.
I didn’t get a chance to try the parachute jump and the abseiling, which is fortunate!! Haha.
I also didn’t try this other climbing wall.
It’s a crazy wall lah!! It bends outwards!! How to climb that??!!!
But I saw this dude climbing it expertly.
These people are the real spidermen!!
Anyway, I also did something else in Safra Yishun which is just as fun but minus the fear factor.
This was with Jayden at a separate occasion.
Air rifling in the indoor range! It’s VERY FUN! And, again, harder than it looks.
The target is very small!! But I think we did pretty well, considering it was our first time.
It’s really quite hard to be accurate because the air rifle is very heavy and when you’re looking through the tiny scope, it will keep moving even though you’re trying to keep as still as possible, even if you resort to holding your breath.
After a few shots, we graduated to even smaller targets!!!
That was really hard.
We had a friendly competition after some training. Three rounds of six shots each. But our arms were aching by then and we didn’t do as well as during the practice.
I lost by two points.
Jayden’s cards are the three on top. Mine are the bottom ones marked with a V (for Venus).
By the way, the Safra Yishun Indoor Air Weapon Range is designed to International Sports Shooting Federation (ISSF) standards and is the biggest in Singapore.
There is also a Group Marksmanship Training Simulator where you can shoot at enemy soldiers. Uh, computerised ones, not real ones.
We didn’t get to try that but it looks fun.
I never knew there were so many fun things to do at Safra Country Club! The best thing is that the membership fee is very affordable. It’s available to all NSMen and their spouses/children.
Between all the four clubs, you can enjoy virtually anything and everything. There are also tons of activities planned for members all the time, as well as interest clubs organised for all kinds of hobby groups, from gaming to music and movies to archery, and more.
Click here to find out more about Safra Country Club. No excuses for being bored during weekends or holiday periods!