Tales of a TraBaler;

This trip marks the most grueling yet satisfying trip I’ve had in a long time. Blame it on the short period of time to prepare, the untimeliness of the trip schedule, and the 3 bottles of San Mig I downed before said trip.

Friday 7PM

I, with a friend, decided to accompany my friend’s friend for some beer before we depart for the night going to Baler. Yes, we were brave enough, you can say we were a shot down stupidity, to ever thought of drinking alcohol prior to traveling.

It was nice though. The place is serene and the tables are far enough from each other for you to talk within your group without hearing the people talking from the other table. And did I mention that their buttered chicken is the bomb? It was.

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The Beech, Tomas Morato, QC       (Photo not mine)

Friday, 10PM

Courtesy of my friend’s friend’s car, we made our way to Genesis Bus terminal in Cubao. Genesis Bus is the lone bus terminal that caters passengers going straight to Baler. When we arrived, there were so many people I knew disaster was looming over us. Still, my friend went and asked the information booth if there are any more vacant seats for the night and no shock, they were fully booked.

We decided to take the longer trip (Manila-Cabanatuan-Baler) except the terminals (ES transport, Baliwag, Five Star), were also brimming of people. It felt like the god was against us and had sent gazillion of people to travel the same day as us. We took a chance and stayed to wait at the Five Star Terminal ’cause it seemed like they are the most popular in the pack.

10 minutes into standing, a guy over the radiophone or some shit I don’t know how to call informed the people going to Cabanatuan to fall in line and I walked as fast as my dress and throbbing head could allow me to beat for the line. To say it was tough is an understatement. It was a long line. Luckily enough, we were able to ride the second bus to arrive. We left Manila at 1AM and arrived at Cabanatuan at 4:30 AM.

The travel took longer than what I expected. People on the internet said it would take around 2-3 hours going to Cabanatuan and it almost took us 4. Regardless, I was glad we were halfway through to Baler.

Then the conductor said that they are not dropping us off in the terminal, “Crossing na po! Dito na lang po kami. Baba na po!” (I also saw in the internet that the drop-off will be at the same terminal as the trips going to Baler.) 

Well, it was nice knowing the devil wasn’t done with us just yet. We asked the tricycle driver to drive us to wherever there are transport vehicles going to Baler. Upon arriving, the lone bus going to Baler had only 2 seats left and there were 2 people before us. Great. Yet another feat to conquer. We asked around if there were another trips going to Baler and voila! A van with 2 seats left and we were just in time. We left at 5AM and arrived in Baler at 7:40 AM.

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on the road

AMEN. We finally arrived. Baler better not disappoint me with everything that I went through.

We rode a tricycle going to Sabang Beach (we reserved a room near the beach) and arrived at Charlie Does with the owner waiting at the café. She was very nice and very welcoming. She sent us to our room and then left. My friend took a bath right after dropping his bag and I wandered outside.

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Room 3, Charlie Does, Baler, Aurora
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Café @ Charlie Does, Baler, Aurora

We took an early lunch at Yellow Fin Bar and Grill. The pork sisig was nice. The Sisig from Ilocos is still the best yet for me.

Yellow Fin Bar and Grill, Baler                           (Photo not mine)

 

We asked Kuya Rommel, the tricycle driver aforementioned, to tour us around Baler. One thing I will probably remember from the place is that people are very nice, and tricycle fares are cheap. They are not taking advantage of tourists.

First stop was at the Hanging Bridge.

I am afraid of height. I always feel like I’m falling to my death whenever I am high above the ground but I braved through the hanging bridge going back and forth. But it isn’t a hard feat for those who do not fear height so no worries there.

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One side of the hanging bridge
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Other side

 

Next stop, Ermita Hill. My lungs are a force to be reckoned with. I almost did not reach the top alive with those 250+ steps. The view though is fantastic. I wished I could have stayed in there for a longer time because it was calm, so peaceful, the wind is so cool against my skin, and I’m with the person I like the most. It was an awesome place to be in.

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Ermita Hill
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View from Ermita Hill, Baler

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Then we went to Diguisit Beach. I’m glad to see the ocean was clean and clear. It is one thing to live in the Philippines with the Pacific Ocean at your west; it is another to feel its cold waters right on your feet.

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Then we made a short side-trip to the Diguisit Falls. The stones going up are quite slippery and I wasn’t wearing trek-friendly shoes so I opt to reach the top but I got quite high enough to see the falls. It was okay. Not overly stunning but nice.

Diquisit Falls, Baler          Photo not mine

Then, we went Ditumabo or more commonly known as Mother Falls. It was a 1-hour drive and we fell asleep in the tricycle. There was a little bit of rain and the wind is so cold against our faces that our eyes just fell to sleep.

The trek took 45 minutes and after reading reviews that it wasn’t safe, I can now safely say that it wasn’t very dangerous. It was fun. I like its kind of trek – large rocks, made-up bridges, and more. Sadly though, I wasn’t able to get a good feel of the falls ’cause I did not bring any spare clothes. My friend was wearing clothes which dry off easily so he got to feel the water and he said it was ice cold and very nice.

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We went back down and drank some well needed water after the 90-minute trek.

Next stop – Millenium Tree (Balete Tree). The tree is huge! The inside is very creepy (haha) but nice, regardless. It is very overwhelming to think how the people got to take care of such tree for long periods of time.

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Balete Tree, Maria, Aurora
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Inside the Balete Tree

We left Maria and arrived at Baler around 5PM. The Dona Aurora House and Museo de Baler were already closed; we could only take a picture of them.

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Dona Aurora House (Replica), Baler

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We arrived back to our room at around 6PM and we took some rest. After taking a bath, we had our dinner and it was at Gerry Shan’s. Their buffet is very affordable at 199 pesos. The food were at par with the price. They were delicious enough, my friend surely did eat a whole lot. I feasted through the calamares! Very yummy and I am craving right now just thinking about it.

Photo not mine

 

After dinner, we went to buy pasalubong. (Why are keychains so damn pricey? Lol) We went back to our room after and took some more rest. We fell asleep but I woke up some time at 10PM and drink 2 beer bottles to pass the night. I fell asleep and we both woke up 7AM the following morning.

We ate our breakfast at a carinderia near the ocean. The food was good.

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Sabang Beach, Baler

At 11AM, we decided to check out from our hotel already so we could have better chances at booking a trip going home. Joy buses were full and we have to take the 2 trips again; but thank heavens, there were vans traveling to Cubao waiting for passengers just outside the Genesis Bus terminal. The fare was quite expensive but it was going to spare us from having to take two trips so we grabbed it.

The van took off at 12:30 and we arrived at Cubao 6:30PM.

It was very much worth it. I got to spend time with the person I would totally waste my time with, the waters were perfect, the food were not so bad, the place was peaceful, the people were good. It was an amazing weekend getaway. If I might add, my friend was as amazing as Baler. Hahak.

 

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