I has the opportunity to go Kayaking a few times on my various trips. When I got a choice between going on a bamboo boat or kayaking at the Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, I picked the latter!
However, in my group there were only three takers for the activity and I was without a partner. Neither my group members nor the activity in-charge thought I was a good candidate for kayaking alone!
I was this close to ending up on the bamboo boat but then came Alex who was also without a partner. He was guiding a couple from Slovakia and they went kayaking together. I gathered all this after we got on the Kayak!
After interacting for a minute we agreed to go Kayaking together.We were getting the introductions done as we got into the Kayak! Alex quickly declared me the captain of the Kayak, whatever that means.
We were an odd kayaking couple for many reasons. He is young and white, me middle aged and brown! We caught the attention of almost every boat on the water that day! I realized it when random people started clicking our picture! We were a minor sensation or so I think.
Alex was comfortable with it, I would try to ignore it all and hide in a bubble. There was a boat full of men from the Indian sub-continent and I could sense their disapproval! Alex on the other hand told them to smile as they were on vacation!
After a while I started enjoying myself. And then I am prone to giggling a lot! I had my GoPro with me on the Kayak. We bashed other boats only twice and it happened while I was happily clicking pictures.
Soon it was time to head back to the Kayak shed as our 30 minutes were over. I asked for Alex’s Instagram handle as we clicked a picture to remember the adventure. He told me I would get to see his real name there!
And sure enough I was able to find Ales on Instagram! I hope I will be the captain of the Kayak with him sometime in another part of the world!
I was invited to Vietnam by IndiGo for the launch of their inaugural Kolkata Ho Chi Minh City Flight!
The year feels a little incomplete if I do not visit Thailand at least once. I have been a regular visitor to Thailand since 2013, I have been there nine times already. On this trip to Koh Samui I realized that it doesn’t feel foreign to me any more! I feel at home in Thailand! I had no inkling that it will also result in my first flyboard experience, it was not even remotely on agenda!
I landed at Koh Samui on a fine morning, being on a FAM meant I didn’t have to worry. A gentleman with a placard was waiting for me at the beautiful Samui Airport. I was at my hotel in 15 minutes. Sleep was on my mind. I do not fare well after missing out on sleep for the whole night. I actually crashed and woke up in the late afternoon. Once awake, I went in search of food and coffee.
I found them at the sea side restaurant of the Cove. I ordered Phad Thai and Coffee. I was happy with the world!
I gazed at the beautiful sea and the beach when I noticed someone on the flyboard. At that time I didn’t even known it was called flyboard, I had to Google it. I immediately took out the camera and took pictures.
Then I got busy for two days visiting the beautiful Ang Thong Marine Park and Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan which were on my itinerary. Fast forward to my last day in Koh Samui with a 5.00 pm flight to catch. I had all but forgotten about flyboard!
I had no early morning pick up for a speed boat trip so I woke up late, went for a late, slow breakfast. Then I checked out the shops, after all I had to pick up something for my daughter Chhavi. I thought it was too hot a day and I went into a great looking coffee shop called Zing. I proceeded to have two cups of coffee leisurely. It was a good shop indeed.
Then I decided to walk back to my hotel via the Chaweng Beach! And then I saw it again, the flyboard. And I kicked myself, if I had thought of it in the morning I would have done it by now. I went by the the shop and asked for the rates. I told him with regret that I had no time as I had a flight to catch.
As I kept walking to the room my mind kept calculating the ‘what if’ scenarios. What if I walked fast and ran back to the beach? What if I missed the flight? Nah I would only miss the lunch! Arguing thus with self, I reached my hotel. I dumped everything, donned a swimwear and a dress on top of it, took enough money, my GoPro and mobile and I ran back to the Flyboard spot. That is how ladies and gentleman I ended up on the flyborad!
Since I posted my pictures immediately on Facebook, I was asked again and again about my experience. And I had to repeat again and again that I did more tumbling than flying! In my opinion the ability to drink salt water is the first requirement to try the flyboard!
I paid for the ten minute session. My instructor was Nai, he is a gentleman. We walked off to the sea with me singing the tune, “I have never done it and I wonder why am I doing it!”Nai would reassure me at every such utterance, “You will be fine!”
When we were in waist deep water Nai asked me to get inside the boots. That was done without much difficulty. He also told me how to change directions while floating with the flyboard which was once again easy to follow. Then he explained how to stand with the heavy boots, that was not so easy to follow!
What was not easy at all was to fly, not for me at least! Most of my attempts to stand resulted in immediate tumble in the sea! While swimming is not a must for flyboard, it helps if you know, as you would automatically keep your mouth shut when falling in water!
The one time due to some trick of fate I did take off, the tumble was from a greater height! I caught it on my arm, luckily it resulted only in a mild bruise which has completely faded by now.
Thus went my 10 minutes of flyboard experience my dear readers! And I pay money to inflict this on me. I paid 1400 Baht for the experience! Will I do it again? I am not so sure, but will I do something that I have not tried before, for sure I will do it in a flash! Who knows I might even go on the flyboard again!
PS. I was in Koh Samui on a trip with the Getaway Goddess but I did the flyboard on my own.
Meet Chandravati from Sai Vishram Beach Resort- the water baby, the talk of the town! My first interaction with Chandravati happened at Sai Vishram Beach Resort, Byndoor. She was driving the Jet Ski that took us to the sea on our banana boat ride. After a small bump in the beginning, it was a thrilling ride. It was a riot when she flipped us gently in the shallow end of the sea. I shared the banana boat ride with fellow blogger Prashanth and his family.
I decided to go on the Jet Ski next. She was the driver again. It was such fun to have a female driver with me while we zipped to the sea. Let me correct myself, while she drove the Jet Ski at what felt like jet speed and not we, I was a mere pillion rider, completely at her mercy! She would confidently attach the ‘kill switch’ to her wrist and zoom through in the water. She is the true water baby, supremely confident, always in control.
She must have done at least 5 rides before she had a moment of calm. That is when I tried to talk to her. I was intrigued about her unconventional choice of career, I was curious to discover her story of rebellion, for I was sure it would involve some rebellion. It was then I realized she spoke only the local language, Kannada which unfortunately I do not speak! Her fellow water sports instructors and life guards pointed out her home to me, which was a short walk away from the resort!
With help from Prashanth and the Adarsha, the manager of the resort, I pieced together her story! Prashanth also told me that Chandravati is a local girl who lives a short distance away on the same beach where the resort is. She belongs to a family of fishermen. She could study only till class 10th as she had to work when she lost her father early on in life. Her family consisted of her uncle, aunt, two male cousins and her mother all living together. However, another calamity stuck when her uncle too passed away. Her cousins went to the sea for fishing. She too helped them. Her mother would sell the fish locally. The aunt takes care of the home as she is the oldest.
Adarsha told me that he was impressed when he saw her swimming in the sea without any life jacket. I was told by many people that Chandravati is a strong swimmer. Sai Vishram then offered to sponsor her licensing as a water sports instructor if she was willing to complete it and work with them.
And there she was driving the Jet Ski at a speed that scared me completely! When I saw her I could not have imagined that she was simply a girl next door. She is as local as it could be! I told her to pick up another language! The motive was selfish, I wanted to talk to her! Her rebellion, for I am sure it still involved some of it was of such a different type from what I imagined!
I can only guess how many stereotypes she broke when she became a trained instructor! It is such a comfort to have a lady instructor on that ride to the sea, an affinity to another woman! I was told that most of the life guards and other people working at the resort are locals too. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with Sai Visharm Beach Resort for this, particularly for giving Chandravati a chance.
Adarsha said he told her to tell her future husband that she would continue working after marriage but he said only time will tell. He added that the village people were not at all happy by her unconventional career choice. I said, “But then I am sure there is a little girl somewhere in the village who looks up to Chandravati and will step in and demand that she be trained too.” It was truly heartwarming to find Chandravati at the resort, going about her business of driving the Jet Ski, being a life guard and giving a hand in tugging that boat back to the shore, going about business as usual!
In the evenings she can be seen asking guests to have another coffee. Chandravati along with other life guards double as hosts at tea time! I am truly impressed my Sai Vishram Bech Resort for making locals the focus of their recruitment strategy.
PS. I was invited by Sai Vishram Group on this trip.