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Minority Report: Kiting

Ever had the feeling of being like imprisoned in Bangkok? Longing for nature, trees, the ocean?

kite1.thumbnail There is a way out: Kitesurfing, or kiting as we call it - or how about flysurfing?

A sport of pure fun, even doable as day trips from Bangkok.

The nearest schools are in Pattaya’s Jomtien and Hua Hin. But more about this further below.

Being out there with the kite, it’s just you and the elements. Pure freedom. You wanna scream while jumping and flying over the waves.

And the wind season just started - with northern winds from mid-November until January in Jomtien and Hua Hin and the cream of all winds from late February till April: Hua Hin’s southern wind we’re all waiting for.

It goes without saying, kiting is not your average sport. On the kites you find the written warning: “This sport can kill.”

Anything can kill.

What this means is:

You can learn other sports by just observing them and giving it a try. But there is no way around lessons when you wanna become a kiter.

Lessons are essential. Period.

You may hear an other kiter brag: “Peanuts! It took me a few hours and there I went!” Liar.

Then there are the “wind snobs” - as a fellow kiter calls those who pretend there’s not enough wind when in reality they prefer an ice cold beer with company at the beach.

There are certain degrees of talent, but every kiter had to go through the same teabagging, frustrations and lots of swallowed water.

Every kiter around the world had to walk that beach again and again with the “walk of shame” (thanks Axel!) until he or she was able to properly surf and jump.

Any other story you hear is a myth. Whereas equipment is much more sophisticated by now than years ago, when the pioneers tried to get going. Give or take 2-3 weeks, and you shall be able to do the basic kiting.

After about two months you should be able to go upwind. But it all depends on the right wind. And the right wind season just started. What are you waiting for!

This sport not known some years ago has become quite popular in Thailand. So popular, there is demand for further schools.

Only last year each beach resort in Thailand basically had one school: In Jomtien kiting was the monopoly of Khun Pop’s Club Loong Chat, being in the biz since 1985!

Hua Hin was the domain of Kite Boarding Asia KBA, run by the two Israelis Eran and Raam, who also got branches in Phuket, Koh Samui, Chumphon and - since this season! - in Jomtien, run by Ozzie Mike.

Whereas Pop is expanding to Hua Hin and building a brand new kite shop right beside KBA.

Then there is Stephen’s Extreme Sports Cafe; the really nice Dutchman Roger’s Kite Thailand and - as the latest kid on the block - One-2-Kite.

Pro rider Khun Yo is behind One-2-Kite, in my eyes probably the best and most enthusiastic kiter in Thailand. Wishing his young business lots of success!

Not to forget the freelancers offering lessons and selling equipment in Hua Hin until the end of the peak wind season in April.

Get the message?

Kitesurfing has become that popular in Thailand that there’s demand for more teachers and more schools.

Not that we gonna see a cut-throat-competition.

KBA’s Eran told “We’re not worried about any competitor. Each year some new guys showed up, but we’re still the only one.”

Says Pop, who’ll soon open his shop beside Eran’s: “I come in peace!”

Pop’s shop seems to include a bar and such. Welcome to Hua Hin Pop!

There’s enough room for everybody.

Only drawback in Hua Hin: At times, with the high tide, that stretch of beach disappears. With two more schools and more and more kiters you may wanna look for alternatives.

For us kiters in turn a healthy competition means better offerings and prices.

Now get on that board. Kick some ass. Make those birds jealous!

Only flying gets you higher.

Or, as Eran of KBA says, a pioneer of kiteboarding in Thailand: “You really feel like you are free. There is no engine, just the sound of the water. You can think of everything or nothing. It is the ultimate way to relax.”

And wanna earn yourself a beer? Tell me a kiting spot even nearer to Bangkok. There’s a long coastline. Anybody tried?

+++ Updated: Hua Hin’s newest kite shop near KBA opened on January 21st. There’s a bar and small restaurant for passers-by and regulars.

28 November 2007

Reprinted without permission from

BangkokDan spends his time in Bangkok and Hua Hin. His blog at the link above provides an interesting take on Bangkok and Thailand in general. We've reprinted a few of his riffs here and if you like them, encourage you to visit his site. BangkokDan also hosts Baht&Sold, Thailand's Premier Buyers Guide & MLS.

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