Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stoked in San Juan

     Last May 2008, my bestfriend and I, suddenly became interested in going to San Juan, La Union, where the good waves is.  We left Manila at the ungodly hour of 4AM, and nine hours later, we found ourselves in San Juan.

     We stayed at Normi’s Beachfront Resort, owned by a Filipina and French couple.  Though the resort was just 15 minutes ride to the camp site, it was still for the better because the bungalows were in native style, cool, clean, with comfortable bed, and with swimming pools.  They offer surfing lesson managed by Liquid Body Surf Camp (

     After our lunch, we were so tired from our long bus ride, so we had our two hours sleep first to regain our energy.  At 4PM we headed to the surf camp to learn surfing.

     The beach has dark gray sand, blue clean waters, and waves as high as one meter.  Resorts line up the beach from expensive to the affordable one.  Surfing boards can be rented at the resorts.  Local and foreign surfers were on the beach.

     Both of us had zero experience in surfing.  Aside from the usual snorkeling and kayaking, we were rookies to this new sport.  Wearing just a simple swimwear, we were excited to try it.

     We rented a long board and paid a local surfer to teach us.  The instructor taught us the basics about the surfboards, how to paddle, the proper way of standing and balancing.  After what to be just a couple of minutes, we were ready to hit the water to put the theory into practice.

     I desperately tried to paddle to a point in the sea where the current wouldn’t take us back to the shoreline.  We will then wait for the good waves and when it’s there the instructor will give me a go signal to paddle and stand in my long board.

     After a couple of tries of standing, balancing and drinking lots of sea waters, at last I was on top of a wave riding, alone.

     My instructor was right there to greet me “Good! You did it!” he said.

     I realized that standing on the board was not the most exhausting; it was the paddling out to sea.

     Paddling requires arm and back strength.  The next day, I felt my neck and shoulders muscles were in pain because of an hour of paddling in the sea.  Still, it doesn’t stop me to surf again and practice balancing and riding the waves.

     On the second day, I learned that there is a priority of the wave.  According to them, a local should come first, or if they decided not to ride the wave, then it’s your turn to go.

     After a couple of rides on the waves, worn out and ready to give up, nevertheless I continue until the time of my lesson ended.

     It’s hard to explain that feeling after riding a wave.  Catching a wave gives me fascination and riding just keeps me going.  That sense of accomplishment in riding a wave is a feeling that only a surfer knows and is what they call being ‘stoked.’

     After two days in the surf camp, it’s now time to go back to Manila.  Our arms hurt like crazy and same also with some other parts of our body.  Our skin was burnt and hair was not that shiny anymore.  But the experience was all worth it.

My bestfriend Luriz and I at Normi's Beachfront Resort.

Surfing Tips:
-An hour a day for newbie is enough because you’ll tire from paddling
-Wear rash-guard
-Check out the condition of the sea before heading out
-Learn safety first
-For beginners, use a long board

Getting there:
From Manila – Partas Bus bound for Laoag or Abra

Click this La Union Album for more photos.

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