Sitting on my desk in rainy, cold Germany, booking my tickets for a two-months trip to the ‘land of smile’ I really had no clue, what to expect at all! Usually you have at least some sort of an idea of what will be waiting for you, including all the pros and cons. This time however, the only picture I could make up in my head was based on euphoria of my friends! Literally everyone I have been talking to about Thailand was brimming over with enthusiasm for it: ‘You’ll never forget!’, ‘You better get yourself the longest visa available!’, ‘You’ll not come back!’. I didn’t believe them and was rather critical about it … but I should be wrong, very wrong! 🙂
Two weeks later the trip started and I was happy to leave the cold behind me and finally ride shorts instead of a six mm wetsuit.
I did spend the first three weeks in Hua Hin, which is the ‘capital of wind’ in Thailand due to it’s very reliable thermal winds, that always kick in when the sun is out and the backland / mountains heat up. My first impressions of the country were not really that good and confirmed my critical thoughts. I was living in a huge apartment block together with a few other kiters and about 300 men 65 years+ and their 20 – 25 years old ‘girlfriends’. Also I was very careful with my personal belongings and really afraid of the food making me sick like it does in Egypt for instance.
However the kiting in Hua Hin was a lot of fun! 🙂 It can be quite hectic on the water with all the swimmers, jet skis, kiters, windsurfers … the water is a bit choppy during high tide and the wind get’s gusty after four pm when it turns cross- to cross offshore due to the thermals getting weaker in the end of the day.
Find Hua Hin beach on the following map:
Because of my first impressions and my critical notion, my friends had a hard time convincing me to eat everything and trust the locals more. But then there was this first experience that really made me think it all over again. A friend and me were walking home in Hua Hin after a long night of partying – and we were starving. Usually these little motorbikes with an extension arm and a little kitchen build into it are everywhere, but it was late and we did only find one guy who was about to take-off. We stopped him and asked for food. Communicating more with hands and feet than with words, he explained us that all his food was sold and he had nothing left. Pretty disappointed we wanted to go on and find the next ‘Burger King’ but he shouted after us to come back and gave us his lunchpack with some rice and a currysauce. “Fo you my flieend!” We were waiting for him to ask for a price way too high, but he just turned his bike around and drove away … I couldn’t believe it! That guy that has literally nothing but his little motorbike just gave us his own lunchpack without asking any money for it. 🙂
After a few days in Hua Hin we drove about 25 km down to the south around the tip of the bay to Pran Buri. It did feel so good to ride in another place after such a long time riding the same conditions in Hua Hin. The water was less choppy down there and the beach less crowded. During low tide you have small pools of really flat water, all hip-deep with a sandy ground. Toby Bräuer (Kiteforum) and me had a great session in the small ponds, a break to have some curry and then continued our session until we were exhausted – goodtimes!
Find Pran Buri beach on the following map:
Now, after three weeks in Hua Hin and Pran Buri the actual trip began. Nick de Bruijn arrived from Holland as Flysurfer’s video- and photographer and we started traveling together with Max, the son of the Flysurfer importer and his girlfriend Ina. Starting in Hua Hin we drove 640 km southwest down to Phuket. We stopped at several locations on the way to ride and shoot some footage.
The first place already was increadible – we called it ‘2 Lagoons’. The place is a bit tricky to find but ones you’re there it blows your mind! It only works with the wind coming straight from the east due to a very small entry of the bay between a massive rock and a temple on the other side.
Here’s a little short shot and edited by Nick de Bruijn from our amazing sessions at 2 Lagoons. 🙂
Find ‘2 Lagoons’ beach on the following map:
The next day we didn’t really drive far. Actually we only drove about five km just to find a spot we couldn’t skip! ‘Peer No. 1’! If you’re looking for flat water in Thailand you want to look for river mouths. Usually there’s a harbor connected to them and then there’s always a massive peer in the elongation of the river mouth giving you really nice flat water on the inside. Only thing to watch out for is the usually very frequent traffic of fishing boats. 🙂
As we got away from the big city of Hua Hin now, driving through the real countryside of Thailand, I started realizing what everyone was talking so euphorically about when asked about this country. The Thai locals are so nice and friendly to you, they do not try to rip you off and are simply very attentively and helpful. Once we got stucked with our car in deeper sand and three minutes later there were more than enough people to help us (about 12), pushing the car out. During our journey we mostly stayed in motels and smaller hotels for very, very cheap prices: Around 10€ for a two-person room/night. I can recommend road tripping through Thailand to any kiter, despite the Thais sometimes driving like there is no tomorrow (and on the left hand side on top of that).
The food in Thailand is the last thing you should worry about. I ate everything after I realized that I wouldn’t get sick from it! From fried grasshoppers and frogs to Sushi on the night market. For the once of you who don’t like these grasshoppers as much as I do (they’re like a better version of crisps) you’ll find one of the best kitchens around the world. The seafood is amazing and apart from the deep fried stuff everything else was just mind-blowing. But be careful with the chili! There’s certain meals like the classic papaya – salad you want to ask for “No spicey!!” because otherwise you’ll burn from the inside. 🙂
Arriving in Phuket the conditions for kiting were disappointing. We did not have a single day with wind during our stay. Luckily there is a good cablepark with some really nice obstacles, which is situated in Kathu, just around the corner. And apart from that there is always a lot of touristic stuff going on to stay entertained. Patong, the party-place of Phuket is always worth a visit and you can also hop on a ferry and cruise over to Phi Phi (the party-island of the westcoast) and Phi Phi Noi (= The Beach).
During our time in Phuket, Nick did shoot and edit a nice little short, check it out. 🙂
Find Phuket Water Ski Cable Way on the following map:
In Phuket we wanted to prepare the catamaran of the Thai Flysurfer importer Sascha. This did take us some time (mostly paintjobs), but once we had it ready to go we also cruised over to Phi Phi Noi or ‘The Beach’. Still, no wind, but the alternative of cruising around on a catamaran was pretty nice. 🙂 We arrived in the main bay of Phi Phi in the dark and after finding a mooring and switching off the engines we could already hear the bass from the beach and see the fireshows. We quickly jumped in the sea before taking the dinghy to get ashore but – WHAT WAS THAT?! When moving our arms and legs in the water, it started to glow!! We just swam in the marine phosphorescence … one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. Well … and the party was crazy too! 🙂
After this easy going time in Phuket we really were in desperate need for some more kiting, so we decided to head back to Hua Hin. It seemed as it was still too early in the year windwise for the west coast around Phuket plus our friends had told us that in Hua Hin it was windy almost everyday since we left. But how should we get back there? Sascha and his pick-up had to stay behind in Phuket and we had so much gear with us. Luckily we met this family, that offered us a good price for the ride. We have never met them before and were excited for our next encounter with the local people of this wonderful country. So the next morning they came to pick us up with seven (!) people (five seats in the car). But that was no problem, five of them just crashed on the loading area together with our large kitebags. 🙂 We had a smooth, 640km long drive. we find that you tend to enter some state of trance after hours and hours and hours of Thai road crazyness…
Of course, the day, we arrived back in Hua Hin, the wind stopped and all we could do was listen to the stories of our friends, how great their sessions of the last few days have been. But luckily it did not take it long to come back and we did have a few more great sessions, mostly around the calmer area of Pran Buri, before we had to go back to Europe.
We really fell in love with the area around this little town, because it has a lot more to offer on top of the good conditions for kiting. There are some temples around the area that are definitely worth to check out. The monks are such amazing people. Once we did walk around a temple there was some sort of water festival happening (Sonkran). At first the monks were quite shy, but all the sudden one of them just poured this bowl of water over my head from behind. I turned around and looked into the face of this young kid smiling impishly. And then the fun began… they did hand each of us a bowl and before we could change our mind, we were part of the action trying to catch the little monks. Luckily no smartphones in our pockets. The Thai people recommend you always pack your phone and carkey into a little plastic bag during Sonkran – for a very good reason! 🙂
During our trip, Nick did shoot and edit this nice short film, where you can really get a good idea of the conditions around Pran Buri and the other spots we have visited:
After two months in this country I have to say that I really love it and that I will have to come back a.s.a.p. It is not mainly the kiting (the conditions are good but you can find better places like Mauritius or Brazil) but the mix of the people, the kiting, the nature, the food … it’s just amazing! I can recommend this place as a destination for every kiter from December until March. That is the best time for the wind and it is not too hot yet. I myself just can’t wait to go again. 🙂