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Carve the waves off Nha Trang

By Trung Nghia   January 26, 2021 | 12:55 am PT
Apart from the charms of a beautiful beach, visitors to Bai Dai in Nha Trang can learn the age-old art of surfing, as taught by a young local professional.

With surfing as a sport fairly new to Vietnam, Nguyen Thanh Phu, 24, used up his two-year savings some years ago to become a certified surf instructor in Indonesia's Bali island.

Now, his surfing lectures add to the allure of Bai Dai.

Bai Dai is one of Nha Trang's most beautiful beaches, but less crowded than those at the town's center, 20 kilometers distant. Boasting fairly consistent waves all year round, it tempts the adventurous at heart.

Phu's little Bai Dai business consists of a simple cottage with a surfboard that reads "Local Surf" out front. However, starting out proved no smooth sailing at first.

Suntanned Nguyen Thanh Phu and his dog ride the waves. Video courtesy of Phu.

Born and raised in Nha Trang, Phu developed a passion for surfing at age 16. Quitting school due to his family's financial woes, Phu found work at a local school that taught aquatic sports like board surfing, kite surfing and sailing. When it closed down after three years, he had to work in clubs to save up for his dream of opening a surfing class.

To materialize his dream, Phu used his hard earned money to fly to Bali to join an International Surfing Association (ISA) training course and become an ISA certified surf coach. It cost him VND40 million ($1,700), which includes plane tickets, accommodation and one-month course fee.

In 2016, encouraged by his friends and mother, Phu finally managed to open a class of his own, heavily reliant on social media and word-of-mouth to draw patrons.

Although his aquatic adventures came at a price, Phu feels content since surfing has brought him freedom, calm and the ability to face challenges.

"Surfing is life. You don't give in in front of a great wave. If you fall, you swim back to brave another," he said.

Effortlessly riding a wave. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thanh Phu.

Nguyen Thanh Phu has managed to carve out his own path in life. Photo courtesy of Phu.

What Phu loves best about his job is seeing students catch their first waves. The feeling of joy, according to him, is ineffable. He said despite being a new sport in Vietnam, surfing is easy to approach.

"It's not too difficult for first-timers. Even kids can surf. It only takes two hours to get familiarized with and stand on the board," he said.

Phu teaches a group of Korean. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thanh Phu.

Nguyen Thanh Phu teaches a group of South Koreans in Bai Dai. Photo courtesy of Phu.

According to the young instructor, the ideal time for surfing is from the end of September to April, when wave and wind conditions are at their finest.

Via his classes, Phu wants to spread the love of surfing locally and help tourists enjoy the ocean to the fullest. "Surfing will make the journey on the coast more interesting," he said.

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