Meet our latest guest blogger, Professional Kiteboarder and Gypsea Wanderer Julia Castro from Spain. Julia fills us in on her latest trip to the Philippines where she spent the past few months traveling and competing. Kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing sports across the world amongst girls and it’s so inspiring to see girls Julia pushing the sport, we hope you enjoy!
by Julia Castro
Back in 2015 I couldn’t have imaged that The Philippines would bring me so many good memories.
I wasn’t sure where to go to do a proper winter training. At first, Asia wasn’t a place that was on my radar. There were many other places I would have visited first but when I heard a few kiteboarding competitions where on in the Philippines, it made me re-think that.
Honestly, I thought of Asia (and The Philippines was no exception) as a place where people would be shy, introvert and not talkative. I had the feeling I would feel out of place and a bit lonely but all these thoughts disappeared fast as I arrived in the country.
Traveling to The Philippines from Spain was a true odyssey:
Fuerteventura (yes, I’m an island girl)-Madrid
Hong Kong- Manila
Manila- Puerto Princesa
I had to board six planes to arrive, together with my friend Petra to our final destination. I flew on a cheap flight so I was only allowed 30kg. Which means I flew to the other side of the world in a real gypsy way: My kite equipment itself is already 32kg. For clothing I only took 4 t-shirts, 3 pants, 1 Vivida hoodie and my Gypsea Carbon Smash and Sereia bikinis. That was everything that I could fit in my hand luggage.
As soon as we had arrived we found ourselves in between a lot of Tuk Tuk drivers asking us smiling consistently to take us to our hostel (no shy people at all). First prejudices flew away.
The next days we found ourselves strolling around and having to say hello to almost every person we saw on our way. Every Philippino would say hi and ask for our names and where we were from. All of them with a big smile on their faces.
I forgot what it was to receive smiles from strangers, just because they can, just because you can.
About the competitions, I can say that I had the opportunity to compete in the most amazing places. Yes, that image you have in your mind of a deserted white beach with crystal blue water is true. I was there. When I first went to the Blue Palawan International Kiteboarding Open I was really worried; it was my first comp after my injury. However after the qualifications I realized my level was much better than I thought so I could have actually done quite well. I guess due to a lack of confidence I screwed up and ended up in the 8th position and getting an award for the best “Sliders Attitude”.
Next, I competed in the Philippino Tour, I did 2 tours stops and won both of them, in the 2nd tour stop I competed in Freestyle, Big Air and Race which was completely exhausting! Honestly, I was lucky to have the best bikinis I’ve tried so far so I didn’t have to worry about my bottoms slipping away or the strap of my bra going wild.
I was named Philippines Freestyle Champion! 🙂
While in the Philippines I visited Puerto Princesa, Manila, Honda Bay and Cuyo (in case you want to google it and check it out).
Right after I decided to go to Boracay and organize a Kite Camp only for Girls. We received a huge pack of Gypsea bikinis for all the girls coming to the camp and you should have seen their faces, everyone was so stoked! You would think in an event like this it would be only students wanting to learn, but the truth is that I’ve learned a lot from them as well. I got to meet women from all around the world and all with similar goals but different ways of achieving them. We did belly dance, mermaiding (diving with a mermaid tail), some physical training, cocktails and party nights… It was definitely a great experience!
I also did something I would recommend you to do 100%. I spend a week in Manila. No amazing beaches, no awesome locations. Just the big city with all its contrast. I recommend it in case you need a dose of reality. In Manila you can find a mix between the big buildings and Ferraris and illegal housing with kids, women and older people sleeping on the floor. I decided to go walking around the city and I regret not having more battery on my phone to take more pictures… But everything happens for a reason. I was completely disconnected from the world.
The rest of my time I decided to spend wakeboarding in CWC (they say it’s the best wakepark in the world). I had a lot of fun, I learned lots of new tricks and I met so many great new people. The place is a mix of an amazing location, a great cable system and obstacles and the stoke of the people. You can even kind of smell the happiness in the air!
If I had to name one thing I liked the most from this 3 month trip it would definitely be the smiles. I never received so many honest smiles from so many different people. Mainly people who don’t have much, they live and eat simple but they would always share their smile with you. I think it’s something we should think a bit more about in the richer countries. Sometimes we spend all day just looking at our smart phones, too busy with our jobs and projects to interact and share a smile
Let’s smile more, yes, even to random people.