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Wave-ing my surfing dreams away for a day

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A brief stint at Wave House Sentosa made me take back everything I've said about being sporty and adventurous.

I have always enjoyed sports. I have been in badminton, volleyball and gymnastics, and I have always thought of myself as someone sporty and adventurous .

When I was sent to Wave House Sentosa to shadow a FlowRider instructor for a day, I was absolutely elated. It was the sort of activity I would expect myself to enjoy and pick up quickly.

I was also asked to complete two challenges: to stay on the flow board for at least 30 seconds, and to move the flow board from left to right. Tsk, it barely sounded like a challenge to me.

Having skated on penny boards and roller blades previously, I felt that I could easily ace the basics of flowboarding. (I was so wrong.)

I reported to FlowRider instructor Goh Jun Jie, 21, for my shadowing shift last Tuesday. What surprised me was his age, and his dark tan. 


THE BUBBLY INSTRUCTOR OFTEN TALKED ANIMATEDLY ABOUT HOW MUCH HE LOVED HIS JOB.

Despite the merciless sun beating on our backs, Jun Jie was all smiles as he shared about his experience as an instructor with me. While the sun barely bothered him, I slowly melted into a puddle of sweat on the floor.

Seeing how their shifts range from five to 10 hours each time, I guess being tanned was pretty much inevitable.

Jun Jie explained that being under the sun all day long was but a part of his job that he had come to embrace, and it barely felt like a sacrifice to him because of how much he enjoys flowboarding.  In fact, he shared that he has been doing this for three months and still enjoys it.

He then left me to observe the other flow riders for about an hour. When it was finally my turn to try flowboarding, I was beyond excited.

Before I stepped onto the board, Jun Jie reminded me again that flowboarding was all about balance and focus. That sounded simple enough.

I couldn't understand why he insisted on holding my hands as I stepped onto the board for the first time. While I was observing the other flow riders, they made it look really easy.


EVEN WITH THE HELP OF THE INSTRUCTOR, I STRUGGLED TO KEEP MY BALANCE.

As soon as I stepped onto the board, I understood why. While holding on to Jun Jie, I barely stayed afloat for five seconds before slipping off the board. I was then swiftly swept to the back, thanks to the FlowRider's aggressive currents.

Falling meant getting swept all the way to the back, picking up both your board and dignity, before walking down the stairs in front of everybody. (I call this the walk of shame.)

The cycle repeated itself several times, before I finally managed to stay on the board by myself… for about five seconds before I dramatically fell on my back again.


I FELT SO PROUD WHEN I FINALLY MANAGED TO LET GO AND STAND TALL.

After plenty of practice and countless of falls, Jun Jie finally felt that I was ready to pick up the next skill: moving the board from left to right.

He explained that it was as simple as putting weight on my heel to move backwards, and leaning onto my toes to move forward.

With a lot of wobbling and flailing of my arms, I managed to do it. It was difficult because the currents made the board unstable and shaky. As though staying on the board wasn't already painful and difficult, steering the board was worse.

Sadly, I did not manage to complete the two self-imposed challenges. And I only managed to stay on the board for a measly 19 seconds. Tiring as it was, it was still the most fun I'd had in a while.

WATCH MY FULL EXPERIENCE (OF FAILING…) HERE.

What surprised me most was that Jun Jie was still cheery and energetic, despite running after me thousands of times to help me up. I was starting to feel cranky and drained after spending an entire day under the merciless sun, but the jovial instructor was the complete opposite.

He even volunteered to stay back after his working shift to teach us more tricks.

"Like every other service line, we do have to deal with slightly more difficult customers occasionally. I love flowriding, and it is this love I have that keeps me coming back again and again.

"Being able to interact with new visitors that eventually become regulars, and to share my love for flow riding is the most satisfying thing to me. That's why I do what I do," he said.

The shadowing experience was not only memorable, it also left me with muscle aches and a handful of bruises that reminded me of the fun I had.

Perhaps after a couple of visits, I might be able to stay on the board for a full 30 seconds eventually.

This is part three of 'For A Day', a new series that features underrated jobs in Singapore. In this series:

Working as a "shampoo girl" for a day

Indian boy turns Chinese wanton noodle hawker for a day