When my cousin first asked me if I was interested in going parasailing, I was a little hesitant. It sounded fun but how legitimate are those guys selling water sports adventures? I decided to throw caution to the wind (YOLO or something like that, right?) and we headed down to the beach to find a guy. Since we were with Anna’s friend Amar, a Malaysian local, he said he could work out a deal for us. Our only problem? The sun was setting. Fast.
We collectively decided the best solution would be to come back the next day so we could actually see the views from above. My mom and I woke up early the next morning and took a walk on the beach while Anna and Amar did an island hopping tour. It was low tide on our side of the island and the water was so low we had to walk way out before it was even a few inches deep.
We could see everything beneath the water. Hundreds of living shells and hermit crabs! And they were big! We took each step cautiously, giving them time to scurry out from beneath our feet.
After lunch we met Anna and Amar back on the beach for parasailing. Amar was able to get a deal and we each paid 50 Ringgit (about $13) to fly. That’s less than half what they charge tourists.
After paying, a truck pulled up and we all hopped in the back. They drove us off to a more secluded beach where we were outfitted with life jackets and told to climb into a little, brightly colored boat.
The boat sped quickly across the water and we were dropped off at the tiniest, most desolate little beach I’ve ever seen. Right as we climbed out of the boat, another parasailer swooped in and landed with a clumsy thud in the sand (exactly what I suspected I would look like). She was shuttled off in our boat and we were lined up and tightened into our gear. I’m really not sure if any of them spoke proper English because I kept mumbling nervously, “Will they show me how to do this?” and in response I would get a blink and a shove to step into the harness or turn around.
Amar spoke to them and roughly translated instructions with his own additions. But he seemed like a pro, totally relaxed and ready for what was to come while Anna and I were completely lost.
Amar volunteered to go first and watching his seamless experience really helped calm me down. But then they clipped Anna and me up to the boat and started rattling off landing instructions in short commands. “You hear whistle, pull. Arms like this, let go!” I was so concerned with how take off would work that I struggled to pay attention to the landing commands.
As the guy gave the thumbs up and our boat slowly pulled away, Anna and I both started asking, “Do we run?” and despite his repeated confirmation that no, we did not need to run, we kept asking over and over until one second we were there and the next we were whipped up away from the beach and into the sky.
With the views, none of it mattered. We weren’t up for long but it was so quiet except for our occasional giggles that time felt suspended. I was surprised how tiny everything looked.
When we came back around I realized I was up. Landing was my responsibility. Anna and I agreed we would probably not land gracefully like Amar, and instead crash land into a pile of hot mess.
The guy blew his whistle and I tugged on the ropes labeled with a neon orange ribbon with all my weight. We shifted far over the trees (who wants to land in trees?!) so the guy put his arms out and I let go. We slowly got pulled back over the ocean. One more whistle, another tug from me and we were coming in fast towards the beach.
Anna looks clearly terrified. I guess I externalize terror as excitement. Here’s a look at how the landing went.
This served for many laughs over the rest of our trip. We brushed off the sand, collected ourselves and got back on the boat.
After all that action, there’s only one thing to do. Relax on the beach and enjoy the sunset.
We spent the last hour of light drifting in the water (much deeper than it was in the morning at low tide) and then biked, danced and cartwheeled across the beach until the last of the sun dropped beneath the horizon.
*Video of our crash landing and photo of me laughing in the boat by Anna Pineapple.