Fact: I can’t swim.
I managed to do some floats and strokes back in school to pass PE, but I can’t really swim swim. The life vest is my best friend in any deep water-related activity… which sucks if you live in a country like the Philippines, teeming with marine biodiversity, surf spots and world class beaches from north to south. I enjoy the beach but you can say I’m missing a lot. I know, it’s a must-have life skill that I’m trying to work on.
And so surfing has been on my bucket list since forever but I haven’t mustered enough courage to try it until my recent trip to Bali. The fear of getting wiped out by the waves gets to me every time, but not this time. Bali is famous for surfing so might as well try it while I’m there.On our second day in Kuta, my friends and I went beach hopping (Kuta, Canggu, Echo, Batu Bolong) to inspect the waves. We stayed awhile in Canggu to watch the pro surfers, it was amazing. Kuta beach was perfect for us though, having the most beginner-friendly waves in our opinion. With surf schools lining up the whole stretch, we were able to haggle for a good price.
My instructor Andy was a local, but he spoke understandable English. He picked out a bright orange long board and carried it (because it was too heavy!) for me as we walked to the far side of Kuta beach. I joked that I couldn’t swim and that he should be ready to save me anytime. He let out a laugh but reassured me just the same. He taught the basics on the shore, and I after some practice we headed out into the water. I thought the steps were pretty easy, but being in the water was a challenge on its own.
We walked until the water was above waist deep. I climbed the board and set myself in position, reviewing the steps I just learned in my mind. I was faced towards the shore, anxiously waiting for Andy to call when it was time to stand up. Sometimes he would let a few waves pass before making a call. How does he even know??
I fell a couple of times before I managed to stand up and find my balance. I was so happy when I finally did it! Now I know why surfing is addicting; it’s a natural high especially when you get it right. If you don’t, the thrill of it adds motivation to try and try again. Crashing into the water and finding my way back up to the surface was easier than I thought too, thanks to the ankle strap (and the shallow water). I didn’t need saving, after all. 🙂
Eventually my arms began to hurt and weaken. We headed back to the shore, burnt by the midday sun and bruised from hitting the board and corals / rocks on the sea floor. I had sore muscles, scraped knees, and most importantly a happy heart. It wasn’t hardcore surfing but it was a good start. I promised to be back for another round before leaving for Manila.
I came back and spent my last day here – capped off with some post-surf rounds of Bintang, and a stunning sunset in the company of newfound friends. 🙂