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Jamaican Air Macau pilot flies me to Da Nang, Vietnam!

After spending 28 days in Macau, the next stop on my “Jamaican in China….and Beyond” adventure is Da Nang, Vietnam. Why? Oh, I dunno.  Because that’s where the Vietnamese are? Because it’s a country in Asia that begins with a letter of the alphabet? Because it’s Monday? Pick a reason or make up your own.

So, I made my reservations, and I was all set! (I’ll give details on how little it all costs in an upcoming post!) On the morning of the departure, I left home at 5:15am, got to the Macau airport by 5:30am, checked in, went through the security check, and then waited for my 7:15am flight!

Last few moments in Macau waiting for the boarding call

Now, a few days earlier, when my friend and Macau host, Ron, found out I was heading to Vietnam, he suggested that Air Macau would be a good choice of airlines. Why? Oh, I dunno. Because he gets a commission for every passenger he refers? Because the upright position of the tray tables and seat backs offers more leg room than other airlines? Because he’s a captain with the airline and can arrange to be my pilot for any flight I choose? Pick a reason, or—um, actually, I think it was that last one.

So, after I made the reservations, Ron took care of things on his end.

As I boarded the plane on the morning of the flight,  somehow, mysteriously, I was upgraded to a Business Class seat. (That’s like “First Class” for those who keep track of such things!) It’s so amazing what good karma can bring, isn’t it?

Me in Business Class. Hey look! In the background, in coach! It’s one of the common folk! How quaint! Um, excuse me, stewardess, could you close the curtain please?

Then, I discovered that another surprise was waiting for me, when, shortly before takeoff, one of the flight attendants came to my seat and informed me that the captain had invited me up to the cockpit! I got to meet the other pilots and ask questions. And, most importantly, I offered my services should they require it. After all, I’ve seen enough movies where a hapless passenger is successfully talked through an emergency landing by the guys in the control tower! Just sayin’…

Once I returned to my seat, I couldn’t help thinking: It’s pretty cool being flown on an international flight to Vietnam for the first time, aboard an Airbus 321 jet airliner, knowing that my best buddy–Ron McFarlane–is the captain in charge, and “dread at the controls!” It makes it a unique personal experience imagining my friend in the cockpit doing what he’s always wanted to do since he was five years old.

Here’s a video recap of the whole experience featuring an in-flight interview with the captain himself with some words of advice for aspiring pilots and anyone pursuing a dream! Too bad I wasn’t in the economy/coach section so that the common fo–I mean– the other passengers could see and benefit from what he shared! (Share this blog post and Youtube video with anyone–young or experienced–who can relate to Ron’s reality!)

View this on Youtube

I was well taken care of throughout the one hour and 28 minute flight thanks to the gracious and friendly cabin crew! Thanks, everyone!

Once we touched down (a smooth landing thanks to Captain Ron and crew), we all posed for photos while the Vietnam cleaning crew waited patiently on the ramp.

The cabin crew aboard Flight NX870
Captain Ron and flight crew! (Sorry for delaying the cleaning crew!)

In pilot parlance, this would be a “turnaround” flight. So, after cleaning and boarding of a new set of passengers, Captain Ron and crew would be heading back right to Macau! Thanks, Ron, for kicking off my first visit to Vietnam and making it such a memorable experience!

Note to self: I need to do similar interviews with Caribbean travelers in Asia and post to Youtube…With that said…

Don’t miss my Jamaican in China videos on Youtube!

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Walk About #1-Macau!

You’ve thrilled to my “Drive through Saipan” series You’ve marveled at my “Scooter stylee through Laos.” Well, now you can enjoy my upcoming new “Walk About…” series! Starting with this Walk About Macau test video!

Overcoming my shyness, my self-consciousness, my naturally introverted personality, and the selfie-stick-stigma, I bravely step out into the streets of Macau to practice using a selfie stick, walking and talking at the same time! (I’ve had practice walking and chewing bubble gum, so this shouldn’t be much more difficult!)

REMEMBER: I created this for my personal use to practice my technique, to get comfortable in public, and to assess the quality of the finished product. So, I’ve simply inserted the raw footage without any fancy editing. I’m not really discussing anything profound, so you probably won’t learn much, but feel free to comment or make constructive suggestions. I’ll start:

“Do some neck muscle exercises, pencil neck!”

Check it out!

 

Jamaican Jumps off Macau Tower!

Are you anticipating hearing I chickened out? Think I’m about to use the old “uncooperative weather” excuse? Do you think that a person would have to be slightly off-kilter to jump off a structurally sound building? Do you expect, therefore, that I’m rescheduling it to some undetermined future date for some unfathomable random reason? Or, do you simply believe that Jamaicans may run, and Jamaicans may bobsled, but they don’t fly? Well….

 

…..YOU’D BE WRONG!!!! ON ALL COUNTS! For today, July 27, 2018, the weather forecast for Macau, China will read “partly sunny, partly cloudy, 28 degrees Celsius, chance of afternoon showers, and a very high likelihood of falling Jamaicans!” IT”S ON!!

WARNING: This blog post is replete with all the obligatory one-liners, song and movie references, puns and superhero references you no doubt expect in a blog post about bungee jumping.

First, thanks to Jeff for his help setting things up! Cool guy!

 

Getting suited up with t-shirt and shoes by Freddie (aka “Not Kruger”). (Red t-shirt and sneakers? Definitely not my style, but….)

 

First class, one-way ticket! 62kg (137lb)?? Glad I had the harness and weights to add about 4-5kg(8-10lb), or I might not make it down on my own!

 

Awaiting my turn and practicing my cool superhero arm moves for the trip down!

 

Getting harnessed 233 meters up! “I’m on the top of the world, looking down on creation and the only explanation I can find…” (The Carpenters)

 

 

The folks who’ll be jumping after me

 

“I believe I can fly!” (R. Kelly)

 

Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre (Chinese: 澳門旅遊塔會展娛樂中心; Portuguese: Centro de Convenções e Entretenimento da Torre de Macau), also known as Macau Tower, is a tower located in Sé, Macau. The tower measures 338 m (1,109 ft) in height from ground level to the highest point. Its observation deck features panoramic views, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim. It offers the best view of Macau and in recent years has been used for a variety of adventurous activities. At 233 metres, the Macau Tower’s tethered “skyjump” and Bungee jump by AJ Hackett from the tower’s outer rim, is the highest commercial skyjump in the world (233 metres), and the second highest commercial decelerator descent facility in the world, after Vegas’ Stratosphere skyjump at 252 metres. The tower was created by the architecture firm of Moller Architects.
The tower is one of the members of the World Federation of Great Towers. Besides being used for observation and entertainment, the tower is also used for telecommunications and broadcasting. It and the Grand Lisboa hotel are the most recognizable landmarks in the Macao skyline. (Source: Wikipedia)

(You say bungy, I say bungee…”tomato,” “tom-ah-to…”)

“Too late to turn back now! I believe, I believe, I believe I’m falling in Macau!” (Cornelius Brothers)

 

Um, excuse me, guys…is it too late to use the restroom first?

 

“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s that skinny Jamaican guy!”

 

Incoming! Incoming! Look out below!!!!

 

“Fly like an eagle!” (Steve Miller Band ’73)

Video of the jump from the waiting area:

 

Now, here’s what you’ve been waiting for: the video from the GoPro camera strapped to my wrist: (Direct link to download video)

Yep, it was waaaay cool! I’m actually thinking about doing it again! I’m sure it will be more fun now that I know what to expect!

I always imagined that the actual sensation of falling would be the uncomfortable, overwhelming part, but for me, it was that single second right before I stepped off the ramp that was the most unnerving. Then, once I was actually airborne it was pretty easy to get into the moment and be fully conscious and aware of what I was doing (i.e. arms extended in front like Superman, etc., the scream, etc.)

And the grand finale: the official AJHackett video created for my jump: (Direct link to download video)

After my jump, Sam from Nepal and Alex let me hang around at the base of the tower to watch the next jump.

A new friend from China, Wuxi who jumped right after I did!

Review: Great, professional, fun crew! Nice atmosphere! Excellently-produced video! Highly recommended! In fact…

Lesson for today: a bungee jump is not something you do just once, so yes, I’ll have to do it again! The next two jumps are discounted, and the FOURTH jump is FREE! I was also told that on subsequent jumps, my feet won’t be tethered together and I can actually walk and dive off. This could get addictive! Hmmm. I know what you’re thinking….Seems there are quite a few songs with the theme of “crazy!”

“Crazy” (Gnarls Barkley; 2006)

“Crazy” (Seal; 1991)

and, my personal favorite, “Crazy” (Patsy Cline; 1961)

Next on the bucket list: Sky Diving, Sensory Deprivation Tank, Zero-gravity/Weightlessness experience!

 

Addendum: A few days after my jump, the folks at AJHackett emailed me my official Bungee Jump Certificate: