Long way coming for my maiden voyage

P Chang
5 min readMay 14, 2024


Yesterday day I gave myself a big gift for Mother’s Day celebration — I finally put my newly bought Oru Kayak to test for the first time.

Best Mother’s Day gift to myself

It’s been a long way coming to this far, especially for a person came from another continent, another geopolitical time and another generation where swimming and rowing were only reserved for a privileged few or circumstantially lucky ones

I was among the few. I self taught swimming in a half-abandoned no adults supervised swimming pool on my mom’s university campus and the skill got tested and strengthened in a small canal next to my grandparents’ house during childhood summer times. Looking back it is so unthinkable that we were totally left alone while doing these water sports and I used to drift in that canal for thousand meters down and then walking back under the burning sun with my brother and cousin while our grandparents busy at home doing their own things.

As far as I recall, none of the kids got drowned in that canal in my half dozen of summers swimming there. Sometimes I think the modern parenting practices might be too paranoid to say the least.

The canal carries the water from the snowy mountains of the western side of Sichuan adjacent toTibet so it was even ice cold in the summer

Where did I get my rowing experience? Well, back then, Dad was located (not at his own will) in a rural town helping local farmers to modernize their machineries. Whenever he was back in town visiting us, he loved to bring us to the People’ Park in downtown Chengdu to row the boat as one major entertainment event of the day. Dad always sat at the end of the wooden boat and let me and my brother sit at the front and one most thrilling moment was always when we bent our heads to glide through a very low stone bridge with narrow pathway.

Rowing wooden boats in the People’s Park was also one favorite field trips of my primary school years. We usually paid visit to the park at least once or twice per semester and I always would sign up for rowing boats in that small lake.

While I was searching online for any pictures of the Chengdu People’ Park rowing boats for this article, it brought me sweet nostalgia to find a picture as recent as about five years ago that these wooden boats were still put in good use and enjoyed by my fellow Chengdu residents. These boats looked exactly identical to the ones I used to sit down on as a child.

photo credit: https://medium.com/snap-shots/an-afternoon-in-peoples-park-3d60eaeead63

So, through these two major sources of exposures in my childhood years, swimming in a canal, rowing on a small lake in the park, shall I say I built a rare keen fondness and know how for anything related to water activities, in a very oriental light touched way? 😆😆

Time fast forwarded to early March of 2024. After I announced I finally bought the lowest end entry level model of Oru Kayak, most of my closed circle of friends freaked out and my husband included.

“How can you trust a folded paper thin boat? Shouldn’t it start leaking in a few tries?”

“What if a big wave throw you off the boat in the middle of the lake?”

These were among the most raised concerns. One was even urging me to send the whole thing back before it was too late.

Their negativity appalled me firstly because they were deemed by our kids the most adventurous and open minded parents.

Then, I took a deep breath, calmed myself down, analyzed the whole situation deeper, like I used to do in the corporate world when the big bosses said no to my proposals. That was when I realized that negativity was largely based on their subconscious apprehension of water activities, which most of them were never exposed to in their forming years of their young ages.

Maybe they were right that I was holding a romantic illusion of kayaking because of my fond childhood memories of water activities. But I am a bit sad that they were so unenthusiastic about hoping on this journey together with me to explore the beauty of paddling.

Maybe I will eventually convince them.

A perfect maiden voyage finished at the sunset moment 2024 Mother’s Day
These images speak my ultimate inspirations of Oru kayaking

And the above pictures are my inspiration of using my Oru kayak. This was from a guide book I just bought and downloaded online today.

I even got the honor to speak over the phone with the author, a lady with a beautiful voice and kind heart that you instantly could feel its warmth through the phone line.

This book is an encyclopedia for all the lakes and flat water spots in California. It was meticulously written and well arranged before the Google search or ChatGPT days. I simply enjoy its beauty and neatness of an almost bygone publishing era. You could feel author’s passion of the California lakes and flat water path ways that almost matches up John Muir’s passion of the California wilderness.

Over the phone I provided my first time downloading experience so she could keep notes and update her online instructions for future buyers.

I felt a bit surreal about it.

After I sent her the screenshots of my first time downloading experience, she emailed me back with a few links.

First one was her personal FB profile link. Second was her fanbase link. And the third, was an Amazon link for FLEX TAPE “in case you spring a leak”.


Happy paddling!



P Chang

It all started with the 2020 SIP, when suddenly you became very reflective.