Monday, September 19, 2005

Wakeboarding Weekends

James & Alexei Catch One Last Dry Moment

For the past three weekends in a row, I have been getting reconnected with wakeboarding; a watersport activity I first tried with my friend Matt in California in 1998 and one that I enjoyed immensely when I lived in Austin, Texas. Back in Austin, because of all the surrounding lakes, my co-workers and I use to hit the water after work and wakeboard until sundown, not to mention all day on the weekends. But that was six long years ago since I last jammed my feet into a pair of wakeboard bindings and jumped into the water. But I have recently rediscovered my passion for wakeboarding on a recent trip with friends to the Indonesian island of Bintan.

Bintan was a wonderful get-a-way from the hussle and bustle of city life. Plus it was so easy to get to as it is only a 45 minute ferry ride from Singapore. My friends and I stayed at a relaxed beach-side resort called Mana-Mana. Simple bungalows set back from the beach became our weekend villas, but the real excitement came down along the water, where we encountered some amazing and colorful sunsets.

It was on this beach and this stretch of water that I rediscovered wakeboarding.

I was able to get up on the board on the first try, which put my earlier fears to rest. Maybe it really was like riding a bike -- that you never forget. I spent the first several minutes just getting comfortable on the board. Slowly, I started moving and cutting back and forth, and then finally made my way outside the boat's wake.

After a while, I started to get more confident and tried a little surfing action.

It was fun to go with a big group of people for the weekend in Bintan. We had meals together, took part in sports together, and even created our own tribute to the famous Burning Man Celebration that is held each year on a stretch of Nevada desert. Our group's Burning Man, although much smaller, was still a fun filled event with plenty of fire, glow sticks, and "Strass-aritas", the now epically famous version of the Margarita, yet more akin to jet fuel, prepared by our Bartender in Chief, Eric Strasser.

After returning home from Bintan, I wondered why we couldn't continue the wave of fun, or should I say wake of fun, that we had in Bintan around wakeboarding. Eric was able to find a wakeboard company that operated at the north end of Singapore Island and would be able to take us out on the weekends in their boat, as well as provide some much needed coaching on techniques and tips.

So I guess you can say that I am now fully addicted to wakeboarding, having gone three weekends in a row. I went out last Saturday with my friends James and Alexei. I was able to talk my Russian friend, Alexei, into joining me the last two weekends and now he is as addicted as I am. He will send me emails and phone text messages in the middle of the day asking if it is time to "JUMP", which is Alexei's short-hand for: Let's hit the water. James on the other hand is a novice, but was chastized into trying wakeboarding with us last Saturday. He had waterskied on the mighty Willamette River back home while growing up in Oregon, but this was his first try at wakeboarding. As you can see from the shots below, everyone did great and we are all marking our calendars for our next trip on the water.

Rediscovering activities with new people has opened the door to fun-filled weekends for me of late. Working long hours and living out of a suitcase during the weekdays can make you live and yearn for the weekends. I have been lucky enough of late to enjoy physically active weekends that have included wakeboarding, mountain biking, salsa dancing, and fun times together getting better acquainted with new and old friends alike. Feel free to check out the upper right hand side of the blog under the section entitled Links and click on "Photo Archive". From there you can click on the photos with file names entitled "Bintan" and "wakeboarding" to see more craziness.

I'll leave you all with a fun multi-media audio and image video clip montage I put together that brings all of our wakeboarding moments from last Saturday together with sight and sound. The video is about 1 megabyte and includes audio, so turn up your speakers if you dare.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

30 Days Never Went So Fast

4 Weeks, 4 Countries, 1 Really Big Wall

The month of August is now safely tucked away into the history books and I, for one, am thankful. The month consisted of the busiest travel of my career as I visited Bangkok, Thailand; Beijing, China; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Seoul, Korea. I slept in my own apartment in Singapore just three days the entire month. Luckily, the month was not all airports, taxis, hotels, and conference rooms. Even in all the hustle and bustle there was still time to re-connect with friends and take in historical wonders who's longevity and scale of achievement makes a busy month seem insignificant.

I will update this section further when time permits, but in the meantime click on the "Photo Archive" section on the the right hand side of the page under Links. Search for photos with the header "China". This should give you a sneak peak at the images I was witnessing and I will fill in the details behind the photos as soon as time permits.