Side by side Jet Ski
“My friend, you pay 3000 baht. My jet ski not work, ” the man said in broken English. What had seemed like a friendly smile just an hour ago had suddenly transformed into an all-out smirk. The man turned back to his friend with a smug expression, speaking to him in Thai without even bothering to lower his voice. The sun glared fiercely at our bare backs. Around us, the beach was filled with laughter and sunshine as if nothing had changed, driving us further into isolation. It was disturbing to think that the people there did not seem to realize what was happening right before their eyes; did not realize what was hidden behind the mask of hospitable smiles and refreshing speciality cocktails. We had been among the oblivious crowd just minutes ago, and willingly, we would go back if we could. After all, ignorance is bliss.
Earlier that day, a group of eight friends and I had arrived at Patong beach in high spirits. A nation famous for its excellent tourist industry and amicable peoples, Thailand had been one of my top vacations spots from a young age, Phuket a particular favorite. Since we were on a cruise and would only be there for the day, we were looking for a kitschy ‘tropical getaway’ experience, complete with elephant trekking, oil massages and cool jugs of Chang beer. Why not top off the whole experience with some jet-skiing, someone had suggested upon arriving at the crowded beach. Four of us decided to split into pairs and rent two 2-person jet-skis, while the rest of the gang opted for a more chilled out afternoon sunbathing and lounging by the beach.
We rented the jetskis from a group of five men. The men were friendly, giving us a “special discount” for our friend’s birthday. “Just for you, ” grinned a man with dreads and a scorpion tattooed down the entire left side of his back. While two of the men went off to fetch out jet-skis, the other three chatted to us good-naturedly, recommending us things to eat and teaching us how to write our names in Thai using sticks on the sand. When the jet-skis were ready, the instructions were simple. The button on the right handle was for accelerating, the other for braking. To stop the machine entirely, pull the key out of the hole in between the two handles. To get the machine to turn, turn the handles and lean your body in the direction you want it to go.
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