Adventure Hijinks: Surf’s Up at Baler!


Sun, sand, sea and SURF! As if we needed more reason to go to the beach!!!

I used to always see photos of my friends surfing in Baler or La Union or whatnot. And as intimidated as I was with their washboard abs, golden tans, humongous boards and suave, devil may care vibes, I still wanted to try it out myself. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to. And last month, I finally did it! And man was it a thrill!

Baler sunset.

A few friends and I took the bus down to Baler, one of the more famous surf spots in the country. It was a grueling 5 hour trip, but leaving in the middle of the night helps with the nausea. (Byahiluhin ako.) Once there, we headed straight to our prearranged accommodations at Darshans Guesthouse. It’s cheap and it’s good enough for people just looking for a place to leave their bags behind and sleep. And it’s super accessible to the beach! Perfect for people like us who are planning on learning how to surf!

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What to do VS. What NOT to do.

Still not doing it right.

If you’re worried you won’t find anyone to teach you, don’t. There are surfing teachers almost anywhere along the shore! The second you step on the beach, I guarantee you, there’s already going to be a guy asking you if you want lessons!

The rates aren’t too shabby; P350 for an hour. For the experience, that’s a bargain. That amount will get you a beginner’s board and an instructor who’s going to be with you the whole time.

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Meet Pao, our surf champ. Seems easy enough...

It starts with the instructor teaching you how to stand up on the board. Yup, that’s right: HOW TO STAND. Something you thought you already knew how to do since you were a toddler. I thought it was simple enough. I mean, how hard is it to stand?? Okay, fine, it’s a particular way of standing: you push your body up with your hands, place your left foot in the front of the board, and then move into an upright position. Still though, that’s just standing.

Turns out, it was tough as hell!

Your instructor will have you lying face down on your board, take you a few meters out into the water, and give you a push whenever a wave comes around. Literally, all I had to do was stand! But for the life of me, I couldn’t! I was either leaning forward too much, or leaning back too much, I don’t know. I kept wiping out so much it got real frustrating. I think it took me ¾ of the hour to be able to finally do it.

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We all got it...eventually.

But when I finally did, god, it was exhilarating. I relaxed, and I stood up, and I wasn’t falling. I felt my body getting comfortable to the shifting surfboard, muscle memory finally kicked in. I was SURFING! I was gliding though the water, riding on that admittedly small wave, with wind on my face, my arms stretched out, and my confidence at an all-time high, AAAHHHH, it was an amazing feeling! I was so cool! For a few seconds, I felt the gusto and poise of all those surfer guys I kept seeing on Facebook. Forget the fact that all I really did was stand up. Screw it! At that moment, when I was finally SURFING, nothing was going to rain on my parade.

The video that perfectly captures how awesome we felt while surfing!
(Thank you Carlos and China for the video and the pics!)

An hour is more than enough. Maybe you can do two in a day, but anything more than that is counter-productive. It’s like bowling. You’re good on the first two games, but the third game is when the fatigue takes its toll. In this beginner’s class, your chest and legs are going to get the bulk of the punishment.

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The pain is so worth it!

But it’d still be so worth it! Surfing in Baler was a wonderful and fun experience! I may not have been in the deep blue sea, riding half pipe waves that can literally devour me, but I can stand. That’s enough for now.:) It’s just another reason to go back. Who knows, maybe I’ll get good enough to be so far out into the sea that I can die from a shark attack! Ahh yes, every surfer’s dream. Ride the waves, outrun a shark.

Definitely going back for another try!

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