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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Yes Virginia, There is Surf in Vietnam!

VIETNAM | Friday, 13 July 2007 | Views [1204]

I couldn't believe my ears... the sound of surf pounding the beach had woken me up.  As I so often do, I wake up, not completely remembering where we are - what country, what city, and oh, we're in a hotel?  I could have sworn I was waking up in the camper-van alongside the beach in Australia.  Flash forward six month... nope, we're now in Vietnam, and I need to get out to the beach and see what my ears are hearing.  The sun is just rising above the ocean... it sparks a flame that lights the horizon ablaze with oranges and reds.  Just a few steps away and I'm on the sand, staring out at waves rolling in, sets of 4-5 waves, waist to shoulder high.  Not big, but surfable none the less.  So I hustle down to the local sporting shop and rent out the smallest board I could find... a 7'2", and paddled out with another local Vietnamese boy, and we surfed small, but consistent rights all to ourselves.  The water here is warm... like an unusually warm summer day in San Diego on a good year - maybe 74 degrees.

While I spend my morning surfing and then recovering my spaghetti like arms with a mango shake and pancakes at a little local restaurant overlooking the surf spot, Darrin starts his kite boarding lessons.  For those of you not familiar with kite boarding, it's a relatively new sport to gain popularity, and it requires consistent good wind conditions to get out.  The large kite that Darrin was learning on (7, 12 and 14M wide) is connected to the surfer by a harness that goes around the waist, attached with four or five main lines.  The board is similar to a snowboard that floats, with tiny fins on both ends, and straps to secure your feet onto the board.  Darrin's instructor is a local Vietnamese guy - Mr. Lee.  He started up his business here and has been teaching for 3 years.  Mr. Lee; Mr. Lee Kite School:  your [email protected]  There were several big companies to choose from run more like dive training where you get a certification card.  Those were also nearly double the cost, and run by non-local Vietnamese.  Mr. Lee ran a small operation, just he and a beach boy to assist lessons were one-on-one and he had an incredibly compassionate, engaging and uplifting coaching style.  Mr. Lee never stops smiling, even when the wind goes bad.  He puts his heart and soul into every aspect of the lessons, continually checking with Darrin to ensure he's understanding, retaining the knowledge and having fun.

We had both wanted to take lessons, however, with only 3 days remaining, and the wind hit or miss at this time of year, it was only realistic to assume one of us could get through the class in our remaining time.  And after taking a look at the technical manual for the kite board... one look at that, and I knew it would be much more appealing for Darrin.  So he took the lessons, and I'll expect him to feed it all to me in lessons later at home so I don't have to struggle through a boring, technical manual.  Mr. Lee kept telling Darrin that while it was natural to be "scary" out in the water, that he would provide him with the skills to take action when he felt "scary."  Darrin learned how to set up the kite, strings, and harness, how to fly the mammoth bird, and how to then drag his body through the surf while flying and directing the kite with the changing wind direction.  He also learned how to do special release rescues when he's out in the middle of the ocean and the wind shirts and his kite crashes down- always a valuable skill to have!  The wind didn't last long enough for Darrin to get on the board, but he's got a great taste of what it feels like to fly through the water with the kite, and is looking forward to future chances to get out onto the water with a kite and board.  Who knows... maybe there will be good wind in Egypt on the Red Sea.

We also had a great time for three days, hanging out with Mr. Lee, even the times when the wind was not good, we'd listen to his many stories that helped us better understand the history, culture and social lifestyles of Vietnamese people.  Learning from a local has been one of the best treats we have had when in each country, and Mr. Lee has been extremely generous with his time and so interested in teaching us about Vietnam through his experiences.

Tags: The Great Outdoors

 

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