I sometimes worry that I am dragging Tom around the world on my whims, when all he really wants to do is stay in one place with good pizza and wifi. Don’t get me wrong, I know he often enjoys the new places, foods, people and things that we experience but I am unquestionably the travel instigator.
Occasionally, I get a nagging suspicion that I confuse his acceptance of our nomadic lifestyle, with a preference for it. So, when he mentioned that a friend of his was going to be in Vietnam in March to visit one of the best kiteboarding spots in the world and that he would like to go, I was over the moon! I was probably more excited that he was excited about a place, than he was actually that excited to begin with. Does that make sense?
Tom had kited a couple of times with his friend Dave in Costa Rica 4-5 years ago. They actually both strapped on a kite for the first time on that trip. Tom liked it and Dave apparently loved it, since he has gone on to basically become a Kite Master, placing in National races and constantly on the run from paparazzi and pro hoes.
I’m not sure if Tom just had fond memories of kiteboarding or if he envied Dave’s superstar lifestyle, either way he definitely wanted to give it another whirl. By the looks of his face after his first day on the water, we can safely assume he still likes it.
By the end of our time in Mui Ne he may even have started to love it. He was going upwind, turning, and even trying some little hops. Not quite busting out the superhero-looking jumps (like Dave below), or impersonating the Virgin airlines guy (with a lady on his back) yet, but well on his way. I am looking forward to possibly piggy-backing my way on a kite some day in the future.
The conditions in Mui Ne are perfect for kiteboarding (crazy windy) and it has turned into a major windsports destination. It is incredible how many kiteboarders and windsurfers were on the water, somehow managing to negotiate the choppy water without getting tangled up in one other’s lines or sails.
Tom had his refresher lesson, and then rented gear through Windchimes. The owner, Trang is one of the original kiteboarders and has been running windchimes for about 10 years. He is Vietnamese but lived in the bay area for years, which is how Dave knew him. About ten years ago, after recovering from a horrific kiteboarding accident in San Jose, he moved to Mui Ne with four kites and a repair kit. He knew the conditions were perfect there, but at that time he was the only kiteboarder on the beach.
Needless to say, he has seen a lot change in the past ten years. Watching Trang sipping his daily bottle of mountain dew and chatting animatedly with all the thirty-somethings around him, I found it hard to believe he was nearly double their age. Trang is definitely blessed with the gift of gab, I think the most common expression I heard him say was “just one more quick story.”
In our experience it was never a bad idea to stop and listen, because he certainly has some stories to share, and a talent in the telling. His most often-repeated story is the one of his accident and subsequent recovery about 12 years ago. A story that has caused him to call himself the “2 million dollar man” while waving around the hospital bill that proves it.
It’s quite a tale, but I don’t think I could do it justice. You’ll just have to pay Trang a visit to get the gory details.
All of the Windchime’s pricing information for classes and equipment rentals can be found on their site. There are many other kiting schools and rental places in Mui Ne, but Tom really liked Windchimes and felt like their teachers and equipment were all top notch.