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soloflightEd

I always wondered how it is to ride a huge wave like the ones I see on magazines or on tv. I thought it would be so cool to get wiped out, too. Well, I finally had my chance and I almost drowned when I tried surfing without an instructor at Kuta beach in Bali, Indonesia.

Surfing Wipeout at Kuta Beach
Bali, Indonesia

bali surfing
Kuta beach, great for beginners

I was excited to go to the beach just because I haven’t gone for a swim in quite some time. Much more now that I had the opportunity to surf without somebody holding the board and assisting me whenever a wave was fast approaching.

Almost Drowned Learning How to Surf in Bali

soloflighted surfing
preparing for the waves

I only had two past experiences of surfing; one in Cloud 9, Siargao and another in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. So you can say that I’m still a beginner.

I was still hesitant to rent a surfboard because I felt intimidated by the huge waves and I felt that I didn’t know how to surf. But then, that’s actually the point of trying it out; so that I could learn. When I finally went to the sea, the inhibitions were gone and I started paddling.

Note: Cost for the surfboard is 70,000 Indonesian Rupiah (8 USD) per hour. On the second day, I asked for a discount. I was charged 60,000 Rupiah (7 USD). On the last day, I asked for another discount, I was charged 50,000 Rupiah (6 USD).

surfing kuta
heading to the deep

Deeper Water

I swam to the deeper water so I could get the bigger waves. I paddled and waited, got up and fell. This went on a few more times as I was maintaining balance. Every time I fell, I pulled my board back and repeated the same steps until I gained more control. When I finally did, it felt good.

I spent three days surfing for an hour each day. I learned to paddle harder each time. Catching a wave was already a big accomplishment on my part, but I wanted to go farther. So I swam some more.

soloflight surf
going farther

Once I’ve gone farther, I’d catch a wave and then swim back. I only noticed that the water was already deep when I was sitting on the board and my feet couldn’t touch the base anymore.

I waited and waited, but no waves were appearing. I was just floating so I simply enjoyed the sun’s rays. I felt at peace because the water was calm and not much action was going on.

bali surf
sprite!

That Big Wave

I saw a few surfers at the time who seemed to be catching other waves. I didn’t realize that they were the more seasoned ones who were waiting for the bigger swells. I wondered what I was doing there, but I stopped when I saw a big wave approaching fast.

I felt a little confident since all I needed to do was paddle and lift myself up. I did paddle and I was able to lift myself up, but only for a split second. The next few scenes were not so pleasant.


bigger waves from afar

Panic Mode

When I realized that the water was about 8 to 10 feet high, I panicked. My nerves got the better of me that I immediately fell off the board. I got washed out by a wave that was still gaining more momentum.

I was wiped out and I thought that it wouldn’t last long before I’d float to the surface; but I was wrong. The wave ran over me and when I attempted to breathe, the water continued to break. I was gasping for air but I kept rolling around and my head couldn’t reach the surface!

surf water bali
everything was a blur

What’s worse was that the strap snapped and I was left without a board. The board that was supposed to help me float was gone. I screamed for help but no one was around. I felt so small. I felt so alone. I felt so helpless.

I normally just stay afloat and let buoyancy take care of me reaching the surface. This time was different; I had to swim hard because the water was sucking me in.

Washed-Out Thoughts

Thoughts were running through my head while I got washed out:

* How long can I hold my breath till I reach the surface?
* Cover your head, Ed! You might hit another surfer and it’s going to look ugly.
* So this is how it feels to be a human laundry inside a washing machine.
* Shoot, I lost my board! Now I have to pay extra if I can’t find it! How much does a board cost?
* Stop thinking about the stupid board. Stay alive first!

Sheesh, even in the state of drowning, I was still thinking about the surfboard! Another wave broke, but it wasn’t as hard as the first one anymore. I was able to swim to the shallow area afterwards. I coughed because of so much water I swallowed.

surfing in kuta beach
Bali waters

I’m a daredevil and I do a lot of crazy stuff; however, this one wasn’t something I expected. I asked for a huge wave and that’s what I got; but it wasn’t a pretty experience to get wiped out.

I had to pause to recover from what just happened.

soloflighted
taking a break for now

For a moment, I felt that surfing wasn’t so fun anymore. Good thing it was only for a moment. Maybe I just needed that big one to slap me so I won’t try something when I can’t handle it yet.

I guess that’s the beauty of this sport. It’s how many times you stand up after how many times you fall. It’s the drive to never give up even if you’re already losing breath. I may not have as much control over these waves, but I’m getting there; and one day I will.

I hope this post doesn’t discourage anyone from surfing. It’s really an awesome way to pump up the adrenaline. Just ensure safety as always.

surfing bali
still smiling even after the wipeout

Right after I almost drowned, I thought I’d put surfing out of the things I wanted to master in this lifetime. But the next day, I went back to the sea.

As for the lost surfboard, a surfer was kind enough to give it to me when I reached the shallow area. I’m still glad I didn’t pay for a replacement.

*Photos were taken by my girlfriend. 🙂

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Check out my other blog articles about my trip to Bali, Indonesia here:


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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
For updates, Like his page on Facebook or Follow him on Twitter.
For questions, advertising, and other concerns, shoot an email to ed@soloflighted.com.


18 comments… add one
  • Wow what an experience! Glad to know you're safe! 🙂

  • the important thing is you made out alive and willing to give it another try. 😀
    \m/

  • @Dani: thanks for reading! 🙂
    @whaly adventures*: no pain no gain! 

  • hiaobuffet

    nice! 🙂

  • hiaobuffet

    Thumbs Up for Survival!

  • nice read Ed. I always wanted to surf and tried a bit during a trip in Baler and La Union. Upon reading your post, I think I need to learn how to swim first.hehe

  • hahaha, I gotta try this surfing thing one of these days

  • Ed!.. I can so relate to it!.. haha I had a near death situation as well just barely 3 weeks ago.. I had different things in mind though when I was struggling.. I was like.. "Sh*t!, hindi pa ko nagkakaanak, ayoko pa mamatay".. lol.. and ur correct, for a while I thought I'll give up on surfing and that I'll never do it again.. Yes, it was a frightening moment but it's just a phase that you need to face 🙂 Parang biking lang.. sabi nga nung kalaro ko dati, "hindi ka matuto mag-bike hanggat hindi ka pa nasesemplang".. I guess same thing applies.. 🙂
     
    And… the waves are really big huh!!!??? hmmmm… mapuntahan nga.. lol 🙂

  • Wow, that would be scary to be underwater like that.  It's a great story though and I'm glad to see you're still alive.  It's good that you went back to surfing the next day because I think surfing is an awesome activity.  I went surfing for the first time in Costa Rica.  The water wasn't too deep, but I did get to catch some pretty fun waves.

  • whoa! parehas pod didto sa siargao galukot lukot ko's ilawom! paita! pero go lang nang go!

  • @hiaobufett: thanks!
     
    @killerfillers: took me some time to write this. thanks! yep, swim first before surf!
     
    @thephotoblogger: you should EJ!
     
    @JeffZ: nice way of relating it to biking jeffz! Kuta beach is great for beginners, just don't go deeper unless you want the bigger ones. other areas in Bali have bigger breaks. 🙂
     
    @Steve: Costa Rica! I want to visit that country. Never say die!
     
    @lakbay philippines: hahaha, saon na lang ta dwin. go gyapon ta. haha
  • Once pa lang ako nag-surf sa La Union. Hindi masyadong aggressive waves nun, pero takot pa rin ako haha dapat akong bumalik tapos next time na dyan sa Bali 😀 Glad ur safe though lol

  • @Micamyx: daan ka ng Bali! There's a sunset everyday! 🙂

  • good that you're safe and still confident to try surfing again… just wondering who's taking your pics and braving the same high waves as well…

  • @ian: my girlfriend took the photos. Yep, she's something. updated the post to show credit 🙂

  • JD

    That wasn't kuta beach these pics were taken on. I was there in February this year and it was the filthiest beach I have ever seen. The water was just as polluted and not a welcome sight for dipping ones toes into. Kuta itself was an oversized flea market. 

    • @JD: Thanks for the comment. We were there in July this year. It wasn’t filthy when we were there.

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