This weekend I cheated. I swear it was no big deal! My girlfriend watched me the whole time and it was amazing. I cheated on Seoul Hiking Group. There I said it okay. Ronda and I joined The Hunter’s Experience and learned to surf in Yang Yang, South Korea.
The Hunter’s Experience is a laid back, fun loving group of South Africans who put on regular adventures around South Korea. Ronda loved their yoga retreat in the mountains of Jirisan National Park a few weeks ago and I knew it would be a nice change of pace to just go on a trip instead of helping run it so I jumped at the chance when Ronda suggested this surf trip. She had two friends (Crissy & Liz) visiting from America who were able to join in spite of being across the ocean during registration.
After arriving at the pension we hopped down to the beach and promptly began a surf lesson. The Hunter’s Experience had a ton of surf instructors; Luke and Dev led a quick stretch and on-land instruction. Moments later we were jumping into the waves ready for a thrill.
We all tried it on our own and I was able to ride a few waves in but couldn’t pop up. After a few mediocre attempts Dev spotted me and called me over. He adjusted my positioning on the board, insisted that I wait 2 seconds after “catching the wave” and even gave me a starting push into the rolling white crest.
Suddenly the surge took me. I was out of control, no I was balanced and heading towards shore. Faster and faster the momentum carried me, threatening to topple me nose first. Open your eyes Mike! You’re surfing. Holy shit, I got it. I caught the wave. (or maybe Dev did but who cares)
Quickly pushing with all of my might I popped up first to my knees as my grin grew. I jumped up, one foot up balancing carefully with my other knee as the wind ripped through my hair. I let out a cry of joy as I tried to balance with both feet. I had it! I was actually surfing. I lost it. I toppled sideways and rolled under the waves giggling with excitement before remembering that i was underwater and should probably stop laughing.
With that one push I was hooked and spent the next hour trying to recreate that moment. The hardest part was getting up to speed to actually catch the wave; Dev helped a few more times as I got the hang of it and by the end I managed to catch a few more waves without his help. I never quite solved my balance issue and was only able to stand for a few seconds but that didn’t take any of the bliss out of this amazing adventure. I certainly wasn’t a pro but I was confident enough that I could rent a long board on vacation and ride a few swells.
Now you may think that’s all this weekend was about but The Hunter’s Experience knows the truth about surfing. Its more than just time in the water, its about the whole package. They set up beach volleyball and had a DJ as Ronda and I joined a few other yogis for some acroyoga. We climbed around the seaside rocks for a photoshoot and popped back to the pension for a quick rinse before having a full fledged braai (South African for BBQ).
We gorged on chicken, lamb chops, veggie skewers and more. The vegans enjoyed a tofu dish and we all had some jungle juice in between the standard Korean makkeoli, soju & beer. For some the evening went on well into the morning as fireworks entertained those who were brave enough to stay awake.
The Hunter’s Experience proved to be an excellent travel agency and I will definitely be using them again. They provided more than I expected with a wonderful surf trip, great food and altogether amazing people.