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My First Time: Rafting with Germans In Thailand



Everyone remembers their first time: the slight hint of fear and trepidation deep in the pit of the stomach, the first punch of adrenaline to the face and the overwhelming sensation of accomplishment the minute it's all over. There is even incredible excitement in the planning stage, not matter what the activity. Bungee jumping, sky diving, surfing or racing…the first time is always the best.

The Adrenalist loves talking to regular people about their first time participating in a sport activity they've always dreamed of. In the inaugural edition, we talk to newspaper columnist and Fox News New York contributor Jeff Edelstein about his first time white water rafting. He explains this experience as his first time “really” rafting, not in the rapids in his hometown but thousands of miles away in the unknown waters of Thailand.

Your first time “real” white water rafting. In the mountains of Thailand. How did the idea come about?

My wife wanted to do it. She's a jump in with both feet kind of gal; I'm a dip my pinkie/ toenail in the water kind of guy. But she convinced me, said it would be fun. So we sign up, get in a bus/van thing, and start the drive. Normal, as these things go. Then up the mountain. And around the bend. No guardrails, nothing. One false move, then van goes down 500 feet. One of the other vans got stuck, and our driver stopped our car to help push the other van along. All the while, you can look out the window and see the rapids. From that vantage point, it didn't look so bad.

Had you been rafting before?

As a kid, down the Delaware River. Comparing the two, as it turns out, is like comparing having someone run over your foot with a Tonka truck and having someone run over your foot with a regular truck.

Was anyone experienced in rafting?

Our leader. But no one else in the raft, which held three couples and the leader.
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Explain what happened especially how did someone broke their leg.

We got there — there was about 75 of us — and every single person, male and female, were clearly athletic and 22. I was neither. Then the instructors start telling us how these are “Class 3″ rapids, bordering on “Class 4,” very difficult, very important to listen to the instructors, very important to not screw around, very important to … so I turn to my wife and say “Screw this.” She agreed, but then some English guy — an instructor — he convinced me. He said it wouldn't be that bad. I could handle it, mate. So I said OK. LETS DO THIS!

My boatman instructor was Thai, and spoke English, but not perfect, but the one thing I remember was that when he screamed “ON THE CHOP” (or something that sounded like that) it meant to get the hell down, oars in, and pray to your deity of choice. I hoped to not hear that phrase.

My boat consisted of him, me and my wife, another American couple, and German couple who were jerks. Constantly screwing around, jumping out, not listening to the boatman. I wanted to kill them.

The first half of the trip was uneventful. Some big rapids, but nothing heart stopping. Then …. ON THE CHOP ON THE CHOP ON THE CHOP. I hunkered. I felt my wife grab my life jacket from behind. And then …. air. Had to be an eight-foot drop, from fast rapids to a moment of … nothing. And then … BAM. Hit the water like a … well, like seven humans in a raft. I was jostled. Violently. On my back. And then … laughing. The human mind is stupid.

The rest of it was downhill, mostly. An on the chop there, a stupid German here, and when we got to our destination, a woman who could normally kick my ass screaming in pain and having her leg set with two planks for the van ride back to Chiang Mai. Broken. Clearly.

Where you scared?

SEE: Bear, woods OR Pope, Catholic

When did you realize everything would be fine?

When I was back in my air-conditioned hotel room.

How soon until you went again?

The following year. Of course.

Any advice for the first time rafter?

Listen to your captain and if any Germans want to ride with you, wait for the next boat.


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