For the past 3 and a half weeks, I have been traveling around the world playing, coaching and starting up pickleball in new locations. It’s been quite the adventure and I met some incredible people along the way.
I began my journey in Hua Hin, Thailand where I taught two pickleball clinics and played with the local club members. Next year, Pickleball Trips will bring a group of Americans to Thailand to play in a tournament and see the country, so I wanted to experience it firsthand. The beaches are pretty, the weather is warm and the food is delicious. What is there not to love about Thailand? After Hua Hin, I traveled to Bangkok, where I visited my friend Greg for a night and saw a band perform. Bangkok is ok but like most big cities, I try to get out as quickly as possible. Next I flew to Chiang Mai, where I played with the club there for a couple of days. Chiang Mai is a great city, loud and noisy but full of delicious food, things to see and just enough chaos. The players here are also among the best in Asia.
From Chinag Mai, it was off to Singapore, where I had never been before, for 5 days of clinics and way too much food. On my list were chili crab, lakhsa, chicken rice and Singapore noodles, all of which lived up to their hype. A huge thank you to Janet and David Lye for hosting me, driving me around, being my tour guides, and organizing the pickleball in Singapore. There is no way I could have done it without them. I feel like I saw a lot of Singapore in the short few days I was there.
Onto India. Wow, my impression and expectations about India changed drastically in the week that I visited. When I went almost 15 years ago, I was overwhelmed by the pollution, the heat, the mass of humanity all around me. Perhaps because I have seen more of the world and lived in other places, now it just seems like a developing country. Traffic is bad and there is poverty but it is growing and changing fast.
Speaking of growing, that’s what pickleball is doing rapidly in India and it’s exciting to see. Thanks to the dedication of Manish Rao, India has the largest population of pickleball players in all of Asia. I played with them in Mumbai and Jaipur, and their excitement about pickleball is obvious. Manish and Niraj (pictured below) showed me around some beautiful places in Rajastan in the Northwest including Uddaipur and Jaipur. We are also considering a pickleball trip to India sometime, please stay tuned.
Finally to Kenya. I lived in Kenya for 2 years, where a majority of my posts on this blog were written. It had been 4 years since my last visit though. It was great to be back and meet with some of my best friends in the world. I also met new friends through pickleball, which tends to happen a lot. We played at Amani Gardens Inn and JD Tennis Academy, the latter of which is going to continue playing on a regular basis. I was also visiting potential locations for the Safari Pickleball Trip to Kenya, where we will play pickleball in Nairobi and go on Safaris around Kenya. It’s going to be an awesome trip, please check it out on pickleballtrips.com in the near future!
That’s all for now! I’m back in Japan and exhausted, looking forward for a couple of weeks at home to rest, hike and get some work done before the Fall tour season starts again.