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40 minutes on a jetski overrides my memory of the tsunami

Jetskiing in Patong Phuket

A big smile breaks over my face as I got on the jet-propelled vehicle. My orange life-vest screams boldly against the empty colour of space. Seconds later, I am skimming through the water pretending to ride a motorcyle. No, this is funner, Im on a jetski. I need no skills to ride it. I can swerve like a pro and create surges behind my path. I ram through the waves and ride in the air for a quick moment. As soon as I land back on the water, I am ramming through the waves again, totally enjoying the sensation created by the joint elements of water, wind, and sun. There is no other place I would rather be.

A jetski zooms across the distance and I notice the tiny fountain coming up behind the watercraft. I wonder if mine does the same. I look back to check but alas the guide sitting behind me obstructs the view.

Oh to be on the steering wheel! The sound of the revving engine, the wind against my face blowing my hair, the freedom that I feel, they all seem surreal, yet it is real. I am racing against myself. I am speeding on the water and the space is all mine. I can turn sharply to either side to create a massive surge. Excited, my hand pressed tighter on the accelerator which is also the power button and I feel like flying. The momentum is building up and is not about to end. My journey has just begun.

I am soaking up the view around me. A sprawling resort on one side, an open sea on the other. Hotels and houses look as if they are racing up the hill. Below them, yachts and sailboats are moored on the shore.

I cant believe I am jetskiing in Patong totally nonchalant of any thought of danger lurking in a distance. Just a decade and a year ago, the day after Christmas, this place was ravaged by a tsunami. The festive spirit on the day before was matched by the catastrophe on the next day.

For 11 years I thought I would never get over the sad memory of that tragedy. I didnt see how Patong got back on its feet but I heard that it was restored just a few weeks later.

The beach resort behind me shows no trace of the calamity and the people seem to have no recollection of that fateful day. Perhaps they have moved on and so must I.

A big splash breaks my reminiscence as I ram into a wave. I rev the engine up determined to reach the rocky crag but it seems I am not getting nearer it.

Realising, I actually only have 20 minutes to go and another 20 to go back, I ask the guide how many minutes I have left. Its time to go back, he says and I am quick to oblige but not before he takes a photo of me. He dives into the deep blue water holding my phone up with one hand while the other is flipping to keep him afloat.

Kalim District Patong BeachThe ride back is not as enjoyable as I anticipates. I am driving against the wind and the waves are a bit too hard to tackle. My untrained arms are getting sore but I dont want to slow down.

Just like this place, they probably had a bit of difficulty getting back up but they persisted. With financial aid all over the world, they eventually restored the former glory of the resort.

Acquiescing tiredness, I ask my guide to take over until the water is calm again.

With a few more minutes left, I ride leisurely now, avoiding an enclosure where swimmers are kept safe from the jetski riders. They too have the right to enjoy the water, I know.

As I get ready to alight the jetski the guide motions to carry on. I ram on to the sand bringing the vehicle to a sudden halt almost catapulting me but leaving a huge grin on my face.

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{ 13 comments add one }
  • Hannah February 9, 2016, 2:42 pm

    People do seem to forget these things so quickly. I was in Phi Phi just a few months after the tsunami and the tourists were carrying on as if nothing had happened there was still devastation all around us. It was so surreal. Thanks for your account.

  • Nina January 25, 2016, 3:24 pm

    Your travel guide for Phuket looks like it has everything a visitor would need! Ive heard amazingly beautiful things about Phuket so I really should try to get there someday and the jet-skiing looks like so much fun!

    • Jemina Sentina January 25, 2016, 6:54 pm

      Thank you, Nina. Phuket is really nice. Its a place of contrasts. Whether you are a party animal, a recreation lover or you prefer solitude its a place to be. I wish you would get a chance to visit it. I love jet-skiing. Its my most favorite sport.

  • Elizabeth @ Compass & Fork January 24, 2016, 9:29 pm

    Good onya for going back to create new memories. I have been on a jetski and while I find it enjoyable to ride, I find them really annoying when you are laying on the beach! Too loud! It is very similar to snowmobiling.

    • Jemina Sentina January 25, 2016, 10:52 am

      Oh sorry for the annoyance they create. I rode away from the beach so if you were basking on the beach that day you would not have been annoyed by me.

  • Natasha Amar January 24, 2016, 8:20 pm

    You make it sound so easy but Ive always been nervous about controlling a jet ski and have yet to try it. But Im happy to hear that this happy memory is now what remains of the place- it always saddens me when people think of places in terms of their tragedies.

    • Jemina Sentina January 25, 2016, 11:19 am

      It is really easy. I started as a passenger until I was confident enough to be on the rein.
      Regarding my sad memory of Phuket, unfortunately thats how my first trip to the island ended and didnt get a chance to revisit until 11 years later. Im glad Im over with it now.

  • sara January 22, 2016, 9:29 am

    the memory of the tsunami is something really hard to erase from your memory 🙁 Beautiful post though! I would love to visit one day 🙂

    • Jemina Sentina January 24, 2016, 7:52 pm

      Yes, it was. For 11 years, I was haunted by the memory of that tragic day. Im glad I went back and confronted that bad memory and now there is smile on my face.

  • Eloise January 21, 2016, 11:38 am

    Jetski sounds exciting from your story! But I still dont know if Id be up for it! Witnessing the destruction by the tsunami must have been shocking, its a good idea to go back to build better memories.

    • Jemina Sentina January 24, 2016, 7:55 pm

      Hi Eloise, yes, jetski is really exciting. I dont even ride a bike because I cant balance. But jetski is a totally different one. Its just like a bumper car. So easy to ride. Im really thankful that I had a chance to revisit Phuket after all these years and see it back in its former glory.

  • Svet Dimitrov January 21, 2016, 7:48 am

    I vividly remember the disastrous tsunami. I was still in high school and I was quite shocked. It is astonishing how they have recovered so well.

    Is it that easy to ride a jet? It seems so by your story. I have never tried. Admittedly, I am little bit afraid (just a tiny bit) 🙂

    Great shots!

    • Jemina Sentina January 24, 2016, 8:00 pm

      So many people were affected by that tsunami. Now in Patong there are sign posts telling people where to head for evacuation.
      Yes, its very easy to ride a jetski! No need to fear even a tiny bit. I strongly suggest you try it.

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