surfer, traveler, ukrainian

Change the destiny

Photographer:Irina Litvin
Kirill has ditched his job and has decided to become a surfer. He lives on 600 dollars per month from his Kiev apartment lease. His acquaintances called him a loafer behind his back. Kirill dreams to become a surfing instructor and traveler status is rather convenient for him.


Indiana Jones

When I was little and I was asked whom I wanted to be I replied without hesitation “an archeologist”. Adventures attracted me; Indiana Jones and Lara Croft were my idols. I have grown up and my dreams were covered with dust of teenager slovenliness. When I was 17, I had no idea of whom to become and what I was going to pursue. Therefore, I followed my parents’ example – I became an engineer in oil and gas industry, as my father and grandfather were. I was clear of worries to find job – my parents knew people in the right places and fixed me up for a job at “Ukrnafta”.


How I became a loafer

The name of my position sounded ghastly – first rank engineer in major work over and production stimulation department. My work involved analytical calculation on computer – tables, forecasts and reports. No romance. Only everyday gluing to a chair and a monitor. I haven’t even had rough bore experience; sure, I have been there but only as a guest.

I always thought it was not forever and I secretly hoped to leave Ukraine; as a result, I worked there for 4 years. That was a period I needed to summon my courage and drop everything.

The crucial moment came in 2011. I tried to travel a lot, that year I went to Morocco to a surf camp. I was eager to surf. It seemed to me very cool and beautiful when a guy skimmed the waves and I was minded to become a surfer.

traveller, ukrnafta, kiev


For the two weeks spent in Morocco I didn’t learn surfing, this sport is rather difficult. First, I only fell and the waves whirled me like in a washing machine. Bruises and the taste of salt water in my mouth were the result of my first experience. It was far from the first try when I managed to stand up on a board, but when I did it I felt unspeakable euphoria.

I returned home as a different man. However, I hadn’t reached all I wanted, I hadn’t learned and I still needed more time, but that was just a pipe dream because of my work. I resolved that I had had enough. I quitted without any problem, maybe because my decision was unexpected for everyone. My boss didn’t say anything, he only asked me: “Are you sure?”

And I was sure. I didn’t’ know where to go; only 3 days before the departure I bought a cheap one-way ticket. In the middle of January, I said goodbye to my work, and on February 14, I was going to Sri Lanka towards surfing season and waves.

surfer, traveller


Sure, I was afraid of changes. Desire for stability and everyday comfort is stuck in our minds and is undeniably right. I was thinking a lot and arrived at conclusion that the future is somewhere there, and I was here, so I had to do something to be happy.

The parents have took the news rather calmly, but many acquaintances couldn’t understand me. I know that they called me a loafer behind my back.

Surfing as meditation

I don’t know why people love surfing so much. Everyone finds something for himself or herself, and for me it’s a sort of meditation. Even when I sit on the shore and wait for a wave to appear I feel calm and I have time to think over my life. Sometimes I think that this sport is the closest to the nature. Only you, board and the ocean. Surfing is like training. It doesn’t come easy at once. To feel absolute freedom one has to work hard.

Free from money

Finance is a rather important aspect, but not the main one. If you want to travel, the money you have will be enough. My monthly limit is 600 dollars; I get it from people who rent my apartment in Kiev. It’s quite enough.

Eating local food doesn’t hit one’s pocket, in comparison with touristic restaurants. Lodging is cheap too. The average price of a decent and comfortable lodging is 5 dollars per day.

surfer, traveler


I had moneyless adventures. When I went to Bali, my luggage went in another direction, and all the cash I had (not taking into account 10 dollars I had in my pocket) was there. Besides, our Ukrainian banks like it very much to block credit cards upon arrival abroad. I was confused without food, money and clothes… The moment of helplessness and pause.

I was lucky when one boy agreed to give me his laptop and I could unblock my credit card. The day after my luggage returned. It looks like an unpleasant trifle, which was solved quickly and smoothly. However, I will remember that adrenaline burst long.

surfer, traveller

There was also an incident when I exceeded my money limit and to survive till next money transfer I went to live in a monastery. My friend with whom I traveled in Laos told me about this place and advised me to visit it. The monastery is situated in a wood on the mountaintop near the border with Burma. There they hold meditation practices and accept everyone almost free, only for a charitable contribution – give as much as you want or don’t donate at all. No one will say a word to you. In literal and figurative sense – the novices have made a vow of silence.

surfer, traveler

I lived in a hut and ate simple food for monks. I slept on a thin mat and sometimes did some work in monastery. Work is also of one’s free will: someone grows rice, someone cleans, and someone feeds the fish. The most unforgettable and hard work was when the dyke broke because of rainfalls. Altogether, monks and novices reconstructed it. The work was hard indeed – cutting bamboo and building.

Lifelong travel

I haven’t been to many places yet: Turkey, Egypt, Germany, France, Poland, Canada, Sri Lanka, Laos and Indonesia. This is my small tourist map so far.

I haven’t decided yet where to go next. The main criterion to choose a country are waves. It might be Latin America, South Africa or Europe, or I can even go to Hawaii – it is surfers’ mecca. Everyone who can stand on a board would like to come there at least once in his or her life; the most tremendous waves are in Hawaii.

surfer, traveler


I do surfing only. An idea to find some job has never started up – what’s the use to give up working here and to find it somewhere else? The only thing I would like to do is to become a surfing instructor and to open my own small mobile surfing camp. Maybe these are my plans for the future. Now I want to travel, to improve my surfing skills and to find myself. I am not for long in Ukraine, only to settle some document matters.

I am not going to change my citizenship, as I see no sense in it. Maybe only to make official registration easier. I may find a place where I will want to remain. Only then I will think about it. For the present, I am a stateless person with a “traveler” mark in my passport.