Bali is known world wide as a surfing paradise. The beach is lined with surf boards for rent and the water is filled with surfers and body boarders. We were going to stay a week in Bali, and the thing to do is surfing, so we figured we aught to take a surfing lesson! I suggested the idea to George, after reading an article about surf lessons in a travel magazine, and George was all for the idea. I had wanted to learn to surf while in Santa Barbara but never got around to it, so here was our chance.
We found a place offering surf lessons and signed up to each get a 3 hour lesson, for $30 per person. We might have gotten a better deal just finding one of the many instructors on the beach, since the instructors we ended up with were two of the many instructors that hang out at the beach all day. There are also some more expensive companies offering up to week long lessons, but we didn’t want to spend too much, so we went with the luck of the draw. Two guys on motor bikes came to pick us up from the office around 2pm. So after 4 months of managing to avoid riding on a motor bike, which is pretty hard to do in SE Asia, we gave in and hopped on the back of the motor bikes to get to the part of the beach where our lessons would be held.
We thought we would be able to use my niffty waterproof camera to take photos during our surfing lesson, but unfortunately the shutter button decided to break that day, so no photos from our lessons (the photos in this post were actually taken on a different day).
We each got our own instructor and they started out by showing us the basic moves with the surf board on the sand. Then we got our turns to lie down on our surf boards on the beach and “paddle, 1, 2, 3.” The 1, 2, 3 consisted of 1) straighten your arms so your chest is raised off the board, 2) put your right foot onto the board, 3) put your left foot onto the board so that you’re standing up. Sounds easy enough and is…if your surf board is sitting still on the beach! Then we headed out into the water. The waves are much smaller this time of year, so it’s the less popular time to come surfing. The waves still seemed plenty big and powerful to me. After getting smacked in the face by a couple huge waves while trying to get out into the water, I wasn’t having much fun. I was starting to wonder why I was doing this. I don’t like waves, I don’t like being pushed under the salt water, so why am I trying to surf?
George, on the other hand, had beginners luck and stood right up the first three times he tried. I guess I’m just way too cautious. My instructor would order “lay down,” so I’d jump up onto the board and get ready. Then he’d yell, “up, up, up.” [Which was about the extent of the English he spoke.] I’d usually forget to paddle, but I’d get step 1) straighten my arms, then I’d try to get my balance and maybe end up getting my right foot on the board, but usually I’d just end up sitting up on the board. If there was a category of surfing where you sit on the board, I’d be really good at it! After only 1/2 an hour I was ready for a break. That’s when I found out my camera was broken and my instructor had only started surfing 4 months ago! That wasn’t very re-assuring. I went back out a second time and did manage to get standing on the board a couple times for long enough to think, “I’m surfing!” before crashing into the shallow water. We both took a couple breaks and went out three times. Fighting the waves and paddling is really exhausting, especially for beginners. George was much better at springing right up onto his feet and then trying to catch his balance before falling over. By the end of the lesson my eyes were stinging and my nose running from the salt water and my legs were bruised and my knees all scraped up, but hey, at least I tried! On our last day in Bali George rented a surf board and practiced on his own, and I rented a body board, which is much easier. We paid US $5 to rent the surf board and body board for 2 hours. George could get the hang of it with a bit more practice, and we’d probably have both done better with better instructors. For now I don’t think I’ll take up surfing, but maybe I’ll try it again someday…