Thursday, June 04, 2009


Travelling around Asia I've had plenty of opportunities to try different sports that I otherwise probably wouldn't have tried back home.

In Thailand I got to go kayaking through caves and mangrove swamps, as well as rock climbing and snorkelling when I visited some of the countries beautiful islands. Amazing experiences that I'll never forget and hopefully one day, when I return, I'll get to explore the ocean depths by trying diving as well.

In Japan I got to go snowboarding for the first time, something I enjoyed greatly, although I have to admit I was rather unsuccesful in my efforts.

Hopefully when winter arrives here in Korea I'll get the chance to go away to the mountains and improve, or at least manage to travel more than ten yards without falling over the next time.

As they say, you should try everything once, so last weekend I went wakeboarding with my friends Brent and Sung-yi.

Wakeboarding is similar to water-skiing, but instead of two skis attached to your feet you have a board, so in many respects it's like snowboarding on water.

With a few tips from Sung-yi and Brent and a bit of practice with a board and a rope attached to a post I was ready to go. After putting my feet into the rubber bindings on the board, a major struggle in itself, I jumped into the water, which I have to admit was quite a bit colder than I was expecting. I'd like to say that I didn't embarass myself by letting out a shrill scream, but this would unfortunately be a complete lie.

Bobbing up and down I waited for the speedboat to come around with the line. It was at this point I realised I had an audience watching from the wakeboarding centre on the shoreline.

The pressure was now on. As the driver revved up the engine a number of thoughts went through my mind. Would I be able to do it? Would I face utter humiliation? Why did I get out of bed this morning?

The boat set off taking up the slack on the line. Holding on for dear life I remembered everything that I'd just practiced on land and I tried standing up, whereupon I immediately lost my balance and fell face first into the water.

After re-surfacing to howls of laughter, I then realised that everyone on the shoreline wasn't actually watching to offer me moral support but was there to witness the entertainment of seeing me fall in.

Unperturbed, I waited for the boat to come around again with the line. Clutching onto the handle the boat sped off once again. I managed to stay up a bit longer this time but unfortunately fell straight back in.

After a few more tries I managed to maintain some sort of balance and I was off. The sense of accomplishment was terrific and it was great to have the feeling of gliding across the water, rather than being dragged through it.

Having finally mastered standing up on the board without falling over I was faced with my first wake. Now the aim of wakeboarding is to jump the wake or wave that is created from the boat as it passes through the water. The board allows lift off the wake, allowing all multitude of tricks for the seasoned professional.

Unfortunately I'm no seasoned professional and once again I fell headfirst into the water, which managed to completely wipe the smile off my face from finally managing to stay up. Fortunately, when faced with further wakes I managed to jump them and by the end of the day, although not the fully accomplished wakeboarder, I was falling in far less than previously.

I had a great day out, despite the pain that I still feel days later and I'll definitely be trying it again sometime.

For all the photos click here.