‘Fun on the Beach Day’ with Charlie’s Children’s Charities (Khanom)

Group photo at Charlie's Beach Day

Five minutes until the buses arrive.  Everyone make your way to the road to welcome the children” shouts Holly over the microphone.  We join the group of volunteers and walk about two hundred metres from beach to the roadside, together with Holly the event organiser.

In the distance we can see the flashing lights on a police car leading the procession, and we can hear the rumble created by the Asian Nomads Motorcycle Club. These guys have assembled in the small coastal town of Khanom for the weekend to escort the children as they travel by bus from the orphanage in Nakhon Si Thammarat up to Khanom, a distance of one hundred kilometres.  The buses pull up and the children are madly waving at us from their seats inside the bus. They’ve had a long bus ride to get excited about the day ahead.

Asian Nomads Motorcycle Club escorting the bus
Photo credit: Charlie’s Children’s Charities / Cathy and Gary’s South East Asia Travel Pages.

It’s our first time helping out at Charlie’s annual “Fun on the Beach & Beach BBQ Day” for the children of the Nakhon Orphanage, and I’m not sure what to expect.  Charlie lives in Khanom and owns CC Beach Bar & Restaurant, overlooking Nadam Beach. He has generously hosted this event for several years, supported with kind donations of local businesses and assistance from many volunteers, giving the children one day a year where they can be thoroughly spoiled.

Around one hundred kids descend from the two buses in a very orderly manner and they form lines in their age groups.   Some of the younger children are a little unsure of their surroundings and there’s a couple of tears, but within minutes all of the children are smiling as they make their way down to the beach.

Children coming off the bus
Photo credit: Charlie’s Children’s Charities

The Thai kitchen staff at Charlie’s restaurant have been cooking throughout the night, preparing for this moment.  The children are being treated to a royal feast, and they tuck into platters of fried chicken drumsticks, grilled sausages and chicken skewers, burgers, french fries, pizza and fruit.  I’m sure they eat much simpler Thai meals back at the orphanage, so this must really feel like a festival.

There’s a bouncy castle taking prime position on the beach, and the football pitch and volleyball court have been setup. The first thing the kids want to do is swim in the sea.  A very generous donation from Similan Dive Centre means that there’s a life jacket available for every child.  The children are quickly fitted with lifejackets, and just a few minutes later we have around fifty children heading towards the shoreline.

We offered to help with water safety at the event and were assisted by a small team of professional lifeguards, who have travelled up from Nakhon Si Thammarat. The lifeguards are wearing full wetsuits (we’d call them ‘steamers’ back in Australia), along with bright yellow rash vests and neoprene booties. I guess the water seems cold to them at this time of year. In comparison, we are wearing t-shirts and board shorts, mostly for sun protection but also out of respect for Thai people who consider western swimwear too skimpy to be worn at public beaches.

It’s only one day of the year that these kids get to swim in the sea, so it’s humbling to see the boys having so much fun.  Although there’s an onshore wind, and the usual calm water has been replaced by regular sets of white fluffy water coming into shore.

Group of boys swimming at the beach
Photo credit: Charlie’s Children’s Charities

My Thai language skills are still very basic, and I didn’t expect that I’d need to have Thai phrases ready to control the children in the water. But the conditions were rougher than we expected and there’s a current sweeping the children towards the northern end of the beach.

“Bpai thee nan! Bpai thee nan!”

I started telling the kids to ‘go over there’ and pointing to a large blow up Coca Cola bottle anchored to the beach, which was where the flags were marking our supervised swimming area. This had limited success, so a few minutes later a few more Thai words came to mind.

“Wai nam thee nee maai daai! Bpai glais glais khuuat Coca Cola!”

At the time I was feeling confident with my extended vocabulary and the children seemed to get the gist of what I was saying, although I’m not sure that the words were in the right order. I was telling the kids that they couldn’t swim here, and that they needed to move further up the beach, towards a big blow-up Coca Cola bottle.

It wasn’t easy getting such a large group of kids to move in the same direction, and fortunately the professional lifeguards stepped in with their whistles and we got all of the kids out of the water and walking back up to the sandy area in front of the restaurant. The life jackets were packed away, and we moved onto the organised activities. The younger children were happy making sand castles, getting their faces painted and taking turns in the bouncy castle. Whilst the older children started rotating between beach football, volleyball and video games.

Having fun on the beach
Photo credit: Charlie’s Children’s Charities

In the afternoon, a variety of flying machines made an appearance, including a group of paramotors circling over the beach. Imagine guys dangling on parachutes with small hovercraft motors on their backs that they use to propel themselves forward, and you have a visual of the paramotors. There was also a jetpack demonstration and a helicopter fly by.

After the sack races, 3-legged races and wheelbarrow races, the children filled their plates one last time and the volunteers were gathering clothes and shoes ready for the bus trip back to the orphanage in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

All credit goes to Charlie Wij, for generously hosting this special event every year at CC Beach Bar, and the amazing Holly Chaitongkam for her amazing organisational skills.  It was a pleasure to meet both Charlie and Holly and to participate in the event.  We’re looking forward to coming back next year.  Hopefully the sea will be flat next time, and we can get some kids out on paddle boards.

Tammy & Ian.

For more information about Charlie’s Children’s Charities click here.  The “Fun on the Beach & Beach BBQ Day” was held on Nadam Beach in Khanom on 19th September 2015.

Photo credits: Charlie’s Children’s Charities.

TRIP NOTES:

  • We took the Seatran Car Ferry from Koh Samui to the port of Donsak on the mainland.  The ferries leave the port of Nathon every hour, and it’s a 1.5 hour crossing across to the mainland. (http://www.seatranferry.com/en/index.php)
  • I’d recommend pre-booking your ferry tickets, so you don’t have to queue for the ferry.  We pre-booked at the Seatran Pier in Bangrak.  A one-way ticket for the car and driver costs 450 Baht, and it’s 120 Baht for each additional adult.
  • Khanom is a small coastal town located on the east coast of Thailand, around 700km south of Bangkok.  It’s just 30km south of the port of Donsak, where the ferry arrives from Samui.
  • We stayed at Bamboo Bungalows, which is really easy to find.  It’s about 6km south of the town of Khanom.  Our bungalow was clean and comfortable, and cost 800 Baht per night.  (http://www.bambookhanom.com/).  Some of the other volunteers stayed in a modern apartment building next door, called Khanom Beach Residence (http://www.khanombeachresident.com/).
  • The event was held at CC Beach Bar, a lovely restaurant and bar located right on the beach.  You could easily spend a few hours here, enjoying great food, cold drinks and overlooking a peaceful beach. (https://www.facebook.com/ccbeachbar)

Paddle Board FUN-day in Samui

Stand Up Paddling (SUP) is a fun and easy to learn water sport that can be enjoyed by all the family and is a great way to improve core fitness.

Come down to Choeng Mon beach on Sunday morning for a free trial on our stand up paddle boards.

When:  Sunday 26th July, between 8-9am

Where:  Choeng Mon beach, in front of Crystal restaurant.

For more information, call Tammy on 092 737 9705.

Paddle Boarding at Choeng Mon beach

You’ve probably seen people paddle boarding at the beach, and wondered what it’s like?  Well, why don’t you come down to Choeng Mon beach next Tuesday morning and join in our weekly iSUPtastic! session.

For just 100 Baht you can have a 15 minute trial on one of our Starboard SUP’s.  If you like it, then we can easily arrange another session.  During our lessons, you will learn paddling techniques from our ASI accredited instructors, take in the view of the coastline, and jump in for a swim too!

When:  Every Tuesday morning from 10am
Where: Choeng Mon beach, we meet in front of Crystal Restaurant
More information: Call 092 737 9705 or email [email protected]

Fabulous morning on the water

The weather forecast indicated that we’d be facing 10-12 knot winds from the west, so we decided to start the iSUPcore! session in Choeng Mon today.  The eastern side of the island being more protected from the breeze meant we had flat water to paddle on.  And the weather was a little overcast, making it quite pleasant to paddle.

We headed out past Koh Fan, a small island just off Choeng Mon beach, and then paddled along the coast line for about 3km. It’s mostly a rocky shoreline and cliffs along the coast, until you turn the corner into Hanuman Bay where there’s a stretch of white sandy beach. Paddling at a cruisy pace, we stopped for a swim, and then headed back to Choeng Mon.

This might become one of our paddling tours for experienced paddlers.  If the conditions are right, and we pack some refreshments, we could paddle into one of the beaches at Hanuman Bay, or even further down to the north end of Chaweng.

 

 

Something new to do at Cheong Mon beach

If you are interested in trying out Stand Up Paddling, we are usually at Choeng Mon beach on Tuesday mornings from 10am for our iSUPtastic! sessions. We will be offering 15 minute “taster” sessions for a small fee to anyone who turns up, it’s a great way to discover just how easy and fun paddling can be.

The weather was a bit overcast on Tuesday, which meant it was a bit cooler than it has been for the previous couple of days – perfect paddling weather! Consequently there were a few more people strolling up and down the beach – including Greg and his wife from Melbourne, Australia. Greg had previously spotted us on the water during last Sunday’s SUP5.0 session, and was keen to give SUP a go.

10 minutes (and only a couple of “splash downs”) later, Greg was competently paddling and chatting with me on the water… it’s hard to express in words the pleasure we get seeing previously dubious first time paddlers gaining confidence and enjoying themselves on the water – great job Greg!

Whilst relaxing afterwards with Greg at our favourite beachside restaurant (Crystal) we were approached by Kurt, who along with his wife Kerry are experienced paddlers from California. They had never paddled on inflatable Stand Up Paddle boards before, and were pleasantly surprised with the stability and performance of our Starboard Astro’s during their quick trip around the bay.

All in all, a successful start to the iSUPtastic sessions, looking forward to next week – see you on the water!

SUP 5.0 comes to Samui

We’re excited to bring SUP 5.0 to Koh Samui, and today was our inaugural 5km time trial.   We started at Cheong Mon beach, just in front of Crystal Restaurant, and paddled north to Tongson Bay (in the north east of the island).  We weren’t sure of the distance, but found that the beach in front of the Melati Resort was a perfect 2.5km turning point.  The course started out fairly glassy and the wind was forecast to be 8 knots W. It became a little choppy as we turned the corner into Tongson Bay.  The local fisherman was probably surprised to see us at that point.

The return leg was more fun with the breeze behind our shoulder and we caught a few runners around the Tongson Bay southern headland.   It was nice to get back onto the glassy conditions and cruise past the moored yachts back onto Cheong Mon beach.  After a quick swim, we headed over to Crystal, our favourite beach front restaurant, for fresh coconuts and a cooked breakfast.

Today’s results was 44:34 for Ian, and 51:42 for Tammy.  This compares to our last SUP 5.0 in Australia, where our times were around 42 and 49 minutes.  It’s completely different conditions up here, today it was 29C at 8am, and we hit some wind and also some chop at the Tongson Bay headland.

Find out more about the SUP 5.0 Time Trials here.  Or join us next Sunday morning…

Paddle fitness session in Koh Samui

We completed our first iSUPcore! fitness session on our Standup Paddle Boards today!  We set off from the the boat ramp near the Bangrak Seatran ferry pier and headed west into a 5 knot headwind, resulting in great workout conditions with the wind in our faces keeping us cool and invigorated as we powered through the smallish chop and occasional boat wash.

After about about 2.4 kms we reached the headland between Bangrak and Bophut beaches, on the north coast of Koh Samui. There was a yellow marker flag which provided a convenient turning point (We may also use this as part of our SUP 5.0 SUP race on Sunday morning).

As this was our first session we decided that a quick dip was appropriate to cool off before pointing ourselves east and enjoying a light-downwinder back to the boat ramp.

On our way back we were waved at by several of the passengers and crew of the speedboats that were making their way across to Koh Phangnan and day tours to the Angthong Marine Park.  Navigating the wash from speed boats can be a bit daunting for beginners, in our case it definitely tested our core strength as we bounced through the waves (nobody fell in).

Therefore we have decided that going forward we will run the iSUPcore sessions at 7:00am on Thursdays, to avoid the speedboat rush hour and it will also be a bit cooler.

See you on the water next week!

Lovers of inflatables

Paddling on Lamai Beach, Koh Samui

Inflatable SUP’s are super convenient if you don’t have anywhere to store a hard board, and they are fairly light which makes it easy to lift onto your car’s roof racks.  The best part is that they pack into a backpack that’s small enough to be your check-in luggage on a plane, which means you can take your paddle board on every holiday!

We have been paddling on inflatable Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards for a couple of years,  and we love them!  When it came to buying our own boards, we decided to buy the Starboard 12’6 x 30″ Astro Touring boards.  They are great for gliding along flatwater and provide enough balance when you’re the chop.    In the right conditions, you can even catch a few small waves.

We’ve travelled with our inflatable boards on long haul flights to Singapore, Thailand and Tonga; and domestic flights from Sydney to Hamilton Island, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast.  We even took them on a 5 day live-aboard sailing charter around the Angthong Marine Park, Koh Tao and Koh Phangnan in the Gulf of Thailand! FUN!

Bring your family and friends along to one of our iSUPtastic sessions, held at Cheong Mon beach every Tuesday at 10am, and we’ll show you our range of Starboard inflatable paddle boards.

 

 

Sydney Ahoy!

Tammy and Ian paddling on Sydney Harbour.

After seven great years in Sydney, during which we’ve made some fantastic friends and discovered our passion for Stand Up Paddling (SUP), it’s time to embark on a new adventure.  We are excited to be launching our SUP business in Koh Samui, Thailand and we will be hosting one last party before we leave Australia.

Drop in after work for a drink and some tasty Italian finger food on Friday 29th May.  We are selling a limited number of iSUP Samui branded caps and t-shirts on the night.

Hope to see some of you there 🙂

Ian & Tammy x