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Blazing Paddles: Strokin’ in Phuket

Yes, you read correctly, it’s not a typo. This week Blazing Saddles is taking to the water, which as we live on an island surrounded by the stuff, isn’t very difficult to do. 

Blazing-Saddles
By Baz Daniel

Sunday 28 March 2021, 02:00PM


Mixing cycling with other forms of exercise has proven to be the best way to maximise overall health and fitness, plus abundant scientific research supports the notion that exercising in, or near, water is excellent for both mental and physical wellbeing. So, combining a bike ride with activities which take advantage of our island home’s proximity to beautiful maritime environments make a lot of sense.

Phuket’s beaches are now cleaner, emptier and more relaxed than I’ve ever seen them and many local entrepreneurs seem to have set up kayaking, canoeing, snorkelling and paddle-boarding rentals around the island. The particularly beguiling corner of Phuket which, in my opinion, offers the most interesting topography around which to paddle, is from Yanui Beach in the deep south of the island adjacent to Laem Promthep, with Koh Bon Island and Nai Harn Beach closeby.

Reams of research support the fact that training across many different types of exercise is the best way to maintain optimal fitness, fight off the ravages of ageing, and avoid the injuries which come from the overly repetitive use of the same sets of muscles. A convivial bike ride primarily targets the legs and lungs combining aerobic and endurance fitness with the mental health benefits of being outdoors in Phuket’s increasingly clean and regenerated environment, while being bathed in sunshine which promotes production of Vitamin D.

Combine this with a kayak trip through a stunning maritime environment, followed by a sea swim to cool off and stretch out your well-worked body, then a superb breakfast in a lovely beachside location and I think you may well have discovered the “Elixir of Life” which will keep you young, energetic and happy for many moons to come!

Early one morning in March, I cycled from my Chalong home at 6:30 am as the sun’s first light began to enliven the eastern skies. Up and over Promthep Cape I pedalled, then down to charming Yanui Beach where local entrepreneur Khun Wan and his sons, who live right by the sands, set out their morning kayak rentals from about 8am. Just B100 will rent you a kayak, paddle, life-jacket and abundant local advice about prevailing winds and where to paddle. Out you go around the beguiling rocky headlands below the famous viewpoint and windmill, skipping around the abundant moored pleasure craft and sheltering squid boats which populate the bays at this time of year.

You could take a turn around romantic Koh Man island, as long as the wind is favourable, but right now we’re experiencing a lot of offshore monsoonal blows, so venturing out of the lee of the island is inadvisable, so do please follow Khun Wan’s expert advice!

Thanyapura

An enlivening 30-minute paddle will take you around the headland below the Windmill viewpoint and then across Nai Harn Bay to the lovely beachside Rock Salt restaurant just a few steps along the sand from the luxurious Nai Harn Resort. Here you’ll find one of the best breakfasts in Phuket served in one of the island’s most stunning waterside locations.

Pulling my kayak up onto the sands in front of the enticing white walled portals of Rock Salt, I found a lovely beachside table, ordered my breakfast and settled down to watch the happy local swimmers, paddle-boarders, dog-walkers and sun-worshippers who populate Nai Harn Beach at this time in the morning.

The healthy breakfast menu is served from 7am to 10am and includes such favourites as wild Scandinavian salmon and creamy scrambled eggs on granary toast, or their signature Eggs Benedict, or the full Rock Salt breakfast comprising homemade English pork sausages, chargrilled bacon, plum tomato, chestnut mushrooms, granary toast and fresh eggs, poached, scrambled or fried just as you like them.

Sitting at Rock Salt overlooking that wondrous beach and looking south from whence I’d paddled, I rewarded myself with another cup of home-brewed cold drip coffee which Rock Salt bottle themselves and proves to be very refreshing on ice. Then I set off for my leisurely paddle back to Yanui Beach and my trusty mountain bike.

Nibbles, paddles, pedals and saddles had formed a perfect partnership to create an unforgettable start to an unforgettable day!


“Bicycling” Baz Daniel has been penning his Blazing Saddles column, chronicling his cycling adven­tures in Phuket and beyond, since 2013.

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