Pattaya, Thailand is known as the Eastern
Hawaii, where tropical fruits drop daily from their
succulence, where beaches line with banana boats and jet
skis, where beautiful foreigners can be seen strolling hand
in hand sizzling in love, where tanned locals frequent its
footprint shores, and also, where I learned how to fly.
When I first stepped off the tour bus, I
was greeted by an enormous sign: Pattaya city. Written on
the sunny green hills in big white blocks besides the shore
like I’ve arrived in Hollywood, California. With a quick
sweep of the eye, I could see an infinite horizon of orange
and white striped beach chairs and big curling umbrellas.
Though it was before noon, there were already some people
lazing around eyes closed, fingers wrapped languidly around
some fruity neon concoction complete with spiraling straw.
We waded (half our bodies wet) to reach
the motor boat and off we went, boat bouncing relentlessly
towards one of Pattaya’s islands. There were many things to
try, like jet skiing and scuba diving and taking five
friends out on a banana boat, but I was most eager to try
the flying parachute.
I was brought to this house on stilts in
the middle of the water where all the parachuting took
place. This guy strapped and buckled and pulled me up so
tightly that with each breath, the straps dug equally into
my thighs, shoulders, and belly, leaving complimentary
Then, while strapped to the colorful
patchwork of a parachute, I was told to run (like an
airplane does) for takeoff. The other end of the long strap
was attached to a motor boat, so this way, I would be
flying. Well, assisted flying anyway.
So with a deep breath(owwww), I ran off
the little house deck, running into nothing as I reached the
end of the wood below my feet and panicked for a millisecond
as to why I still wasn’t in the air.
Then, I felt this great powerful pull,
driving me forward and upward as my feet lifted
involuntarily from the ground. I spread my arms out wide,
hugging the wind, and with feet dangling further and further
away from the ground, I was flying!
Wow! What a feeling! To have the salty
sea air blowing through your hair, your cloth, and hearing
it roar with gusto past your ears. To gingerly, but later
boldly mimic an eagle, flapping, Superman, soaring, athlete,
running, swimming. In air!
To see the strap diagonally tense
connecting me to the motor boat, whose propellers were
making blooming splashes of patterns in the water to be
dissolved into a calming wake.
To see Pattaya below me, the tiny color
dots of peoples’ outfits, the yellow happiness of smiling
banana boats, the sharp cut wake made by jet skis, the water
bubbling from jumping fish, the shore below, the sun above,
me in between.
The motor guy suddenly went slower, so my
parachute began to lower into the water. Lost in the
breathtaking bird eye’s view of the shore, I totally forgot
that I signed up for some water dipping too!
The more the boat slowed, the closer I
came to the water. Then, with a plop, I was dunked into the
ocean completely with my parachute fanning out behind me.
But just when I was about to worry, I felt this tug again as
the boat started and I was brought out like a caught fish
above the water, springing into the sky.
The guy dunked me about three times,
sometimes only halfway, sometimes up to the neck, but each
time out of the water, I was greeted with a burst of
refreshing wind as I went soaring like a sunflower towards
the sun again.
Finally, when I landed back at the runway
deck and was unstrapped by several guys pulling me this way
and that, I vehemently wished for wings of my own.