SKJ1SKY JOURNEY

By Kamila Delart

See also Powered Paragliding in the Adventure Guide

Every time I’m approaching Pantai Cenang and see the colorful paraglider wings in the sky, I wonder how it must feel like floating among the candy-floss cloudlets and looking at the island from the bird’s eye perspective. I tend to slow down my car when passing the paramotor runway, but having a healthy respect from heights, I usually end up stepping on the gas again.

I’m not really sure what got into me this time, but despite having left my home with no plans to embark on a sky adventure, I pull over. And once I learn how safety-oriented the providers are - verifying that I don’t exceed the weight limit and questioning whether I have any history of high blood pressure - I put on a helmet and take a seat in the paramotor quad, a cart on four wheels with an attached airscrew. Not necessarily an act of bravery considering that in the seat behind me is Mr. Pak Soh, a pilot with more than 3.000 flight hours under his belt. And yet, having overcome my fears, I feel as though I have the world at my feet even before it becomes a reality…

SKJ2With my seatbelt fastened, the propeller begins to spin, bringing the quad into motion. And before I know it, we are in the air. I’m surprised how fast and seamless the take-off was. But enchanted by the view below me, I quickly discard any further analysis of the technology, and enjoy the magnificent vista!

Everything looks so different from above. The winding paths flanked by coconut trees, the red roofs of sleepy kampongs, the graceful minarets of a mosque… It’s as if I saw my island for the very first time…

My thoughts are briefly interrupted by the warm voice of Mr. Pak Soh who is reminding me via head phones that there is no need for me to cling to the metallic handles. And he is right. The paramotor is peacefully gliding through the air, without the slightest turbulence…

And so I lean back in my seat, take out my camera, and indulge in the changing scenery. I admire the tiny mirrors of lakes reflecting bushy treetops. There is a horde of buffalos below us, relishing a mud bath, barely moved by the sight of a giant man-made ‘bird’ soaring above their heads… The White Egrets seem a little more alarmed. Spreading their wings, they take off, as if to reclaim their territory. It’s such a mesmerizing sight as their flock passes only some twenty meters away.

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Crossing the Pantai Cenang road, in front of us opens up an enchanting view of the Andaman Sea. The vibrant beach below is full of life: people playing ball, families enjoying banana-rides, teenagers challenging the sea on jet skis…

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Snapshots of happiness, quickly replaced by the tranquility of the Pantai Tengah beach. The waves of the sea break against the rocky coast, the long stretch of sandy beach is laced by pearl-white foam, the horizon is sprinkled with picturesque silhouettes of tiny deserted islands… What a dreamlike vista!

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Our paraglider turns around and we fly towards a golden sunset before getting ready to land where our sky adventure began. I see a few sea eagles in the distance. And although envy is a sentiment one should suppress, I cannot help but feeling a little jealous that they are free to enjoy this magnificent experience whenever they feel like it…

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