Writer/Blogger, aspiring published author
Can usually be found on the floor with my two boys laughing, photographing something or dragging home furniture to up cycle.
Published February 21st 2013
My bali adventure nearly killed me
In 2011, my girlfriends and I were planning a trip to Bali. Being the organised one, I had already paid for my trip upfront and had been roped into going on tours I feared greatly. But thinking I'd have my girlfriends with me on the journey, I would brave it.
Unfortunately one of the girls lost her job and they both had to pull out of the trip. I was devastated as the trip, including tours were non refundable. I managed to convince my boyfriend of three months to come with me instead and paid the airfare as a birthday present.
One of the "adventures" booked was white water rafting along an 8km stretch of river. I had not been keen on this and watched as one group went on the regular rapids and my boyfriend insisted I stopped being a sook and we go on the extreme white water rafting. We were the only tourists on the tour with 7 other guides, so I thought we would be ok.
It was a long walk to the river, and while we were waiting we watched the guides blow up the raft manually meanwhile patching a few holes. My anxiety began to rise. They then brought down a cheap pump to inflate it and I got zapped by the power cord on the grounds as there was water all around us.
Still not listening to my common sense I accepted the hand to help me into the raft and was handed an oar. After a brief rundown of what I needed to do, and absorbing nothing but the words "boom boom", we were off.
Thirty seconds into the ride and the boat got stuck on rocks. My legs were trapped in the front of the raft and my boyfriend tried desperately to pull me out as water flooded the blow up raft. A wave came through and he was thrown from the raft. I screamed and froze waiting for him to surface, but I couldn't see him.
The guides continued to pull me from the raft but they slipped and I fell out. Before I could be washed down the river another guide grabbed me but was unable to pull me away from the force of the water, leaving me to be suspended under the waterfall with the full force of the water pounding on my face making it impossible to breathe. I was drowning. I thought my boyfriend was dead and I wasn't far away.
It felt like I was under water for forever. It was all I could do to point my finger to the sky hoping the guides would pull me up. They did, but we were trapped in a small alcove battling against the force of the river. We were all panicking, even the guides who had gone from broken English in to full blown screaming in Javanese and myself demanding a helicopter to pull me out. (apparently there isn't this service in Bali? Who would have thought!)
I was terrified and sick from swallowing water. After what felt like eternity they got the boat free and held a finger in the hole and I was yanked in and we set off again. All I remember is me screaming and the words "boom boom".
We eventually came to a calmer part of the river where I could see that a raft ahead had found my boyfriend and pulled him into their raft. Apart from a few cuts he was fine, but his mood soon changed when he saw my distress, tears and vomiting over the side of the boat.
The guides explained that there was no way out the canyon river and that we had 7km to go. I had no choice but to continue. We went under fallen trees where I had to lie on my back, down more waterfalls and rapids but eventually made it to our destination. I shakily got off the raft at the end rubbing my bleeding lip, the result of when my oar had connected with my face.
It was the most traumatic experience of my life and I would never try it again. Needless to say it made my relationship solid. As soon as we returned to Australia my boyfriend told me he loved me and asked me to move in! Nine months later we were engaged and expecting our first child, so while I was scared beyond my mind it obviously worked out long term!
(Ladies this is not a white water rafting makes or breaks relationships endorsement although in my case it was as two years on we are still going strong with our eight month old baby boy).
My only advice? Find a vest and helmet that fits and don't skimp on the travel insurance. Bali safety is very relaxed and ill fitting safety equipment does not phase them. If you needed medical attention it's a long way away. Extreme rafting is not something I would recommend for the faint hearted. I would NEVER do it again and would probably have a heart attack if my son wanted to try it!