Sunday, December 6, 2009

Surfing at San Juan La Union

After the cancellation of our Cagayan de Oro plan for white water rafting; me and my friends agreed to go to La Union instead and try surfing. To my disappointment, everybody backed out on the very day of our surfing trip, so I was left alone to face my very first solo adventure. With my backpack, camera, a little bit of pride, and a bowl of courage, I headed North to try this new activity.

I reached San Juan, La Union around 9pm, after a seven hour bus ride (Php399). If only I knew that there are flights to San Fernando (the capital of La Union) available in Manila, and it only takes just about an hour to get there; I should had took that instead. Despite the long hour ride; I found San Juan surprisingly accessible even to first- timers like me because the buses are passing through a highway that's just a few meters away from the coast line.

I stayed at Surfer’s Inn conveniently located along the highway, about 3minutes walk to the beach. It caters for backpackers and budget travelers. It’s a two-floor building with three rooms. One in the first floor with a double-deck and two rooms at the second floor, each with three double decks (6beds) and a common CR. All rooms are only provided with electric fans but it’s pretty much comfortable. Rate is fixed to Php300/pax. George Tisoy, the person who manages the Inn is very accommodating that he even became my photographer when I was there. He’ll even help you look for other Inns if you prefer an air-conditioned room.

I woke up 6am and ate at the 'carinderia' along the highway. It’s cheaper than the restaurant inside the resort. By 9am I signed up for a one-hour surf lesson (400 pesos/hour). Before going into the water, my surf instructor Anthony (He won first runner-up in an International Surfing Competition held at Siargao – I forgot the year) taught me all the right ways to lie on the board, paddle out, stand up. The training lasted for less than five minutes and he brought me offshore.

The battle involved learning to conquer the waves, yet I’ve never tried to swim against waves like that in my life, I’m sure the waves that day were absolutely nothing. It is November; the waves are relatively consistent and much bigger than the rest of the year due to the typhoon season in the Philippines. (My instructor said November – February is the surfing season). I tried several times to stand up on the board and for several times I fell. Anthony assured me I’ll be fine and I’m doing okay and my surfboard will keep me afloat.

After several attempts of standing and falling from the surfboard – I then learned. Theoretically speaking, I learned how to surf in ten minutes tops; that’s when I can stand on the surfboard and go along with the waves. The wave just picks you up and takes you for a ride, all you have to do is to keep your balance and try not to fall.

I went home with some bruises yet fulfilled. I will definitely go back there sometime next year… And henceforth, I will write about my travel experiences.

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