Deciding to go to Baler was not planned by us originally. Me and my girlfriend were just invited by her friends to go there, so we got psyched and told my friends about it. Unfortunately, their trip was cancelled.
Our New Year’s Resolution was to travel the Philippines, so them cancelling their trip cannot change our minds going there.
TIP NUMBER 1: Book your accommodations early, especially when a long weekend is just around the corner.
We decided to go there during the long weekend when Pope Francis visited the Philippines. Knowing a lot of people would do the same, I contacted my Aunt that lived in Baler and asked her to book a lodge for us. She told me it was a good thing I called her because all of the good lodges were already fully-booked.
The lodge she booked for us was beachfront, so being early really pays off.
After a week of excitedly waiting, it was time to go and have fun!
Me and my friend, Gelo, decided we would switch between the roadtrip so neither of us would feel that tired.
TIP NUMBER TWO: Bring an SUV or a car that can carry a lot of passengers, so that everybody’s comfortable during the roadtrip.
There were six of us and the car we brought was a Hyundai Accent. Surprisingly, we all fit in the car (with our luggages) but had to take turns who will lay back for a while.
We were anticipating traffic because of the Pope’s arrival and all the roads being closed. Thankfully, no heavy traffic was experienced.
TIP NUMBER THREE: Fill up your tank to brim, you’ll never know if there’s traffic or you might get stranded.
We continued the drive for another 3 hours, stopping when someone needed to pee, smoke, or buy water. Then it was my time to drive.
When I drove, the sun was already setting and the next part of the roadtrip is the mountain zig-zaggy part.
TIP NUMBER FOUR: Don’t overtake at curved roads and be wary of blind curves.
At first it was easy, turning sharply there, a little steep road here, but then things got a little bit harder on the way.
TIP NUMBER FIVE: Driving isn’t a race. Go slow if you can to avoid accidents.
There were roads that are steep with blind curves so I had to be very slow and careful in driving. The key to driving steep and zig-zag roads with blind curved and sharp turns? Go slowly but carefully.
Works like a charm.
Two hours passed and the drive was okay because all the roads were still concrete…
Until we saw the rocky road…
Again, we slowed down because rocks would hit the bottom of the car if I go fast. After that, I thought the problems were over… Then we had to face huge friggin’ humps.
TIP NUMBER SIX: When your car is overloaded, go slow and sideways on humps
It was on a one-way road and I thought the car could handle our weight. I was wrong, I had to learn the hard way though. The first hump hit the middle bottom of the car loudly, so the next humps we encountered, I slowed down and went sideways (to avoid the bottom of the car hitting the humps).
After all the rocky roads there were passable roads again but steeper than usual!
TIP NUMBER SEVEN: If possible, travel at night. Though it’s harder, it’ll be worth it.
After passing the mountains, you’ll come up upon a bridge and there’s something magical about that bridge. The sides are filled with fireflies!
The bridge was just after the dam, and we stopped because we saw flicker of tiny lights. We found out about the fireflies and stressed the F out of them (That’s how they’ll emit light).
It was awesome.
TIP NUMBER EIGHT: For drivers, when going super steep roads, take a spurt (buwelo); And balance your clutch and gas well with your first gear.
It was hard going up so I had to gain spurt from far before the steep roads and balance the clutch and gas carefully. After the hardship, we drove an hour or two easily and on our way to our destination.
TIP NUMBER NINE: Eat at Yaya’s Tapsilog.
It was a seven-hour drive, but the roadtrip was fun (though hard). My aunt met us and showed us to the best Tapsilog in Baler… At Yaya’s Tapsilog.
We were all starving since our last meal was lunchtime and it was already 8 PM. After we ate the juiciest and softest Tapa I’ve ever tasted, we, along with my aunt and uncle, headed to our lodge.
I was expecting something like Manila Hotel, but it looked like a villa which was cool too. The room we got had a bunk bed that can fit six (three on each bunk), TV, Cabinets, and a safe (good for putting valuable items if you’re not always in the room).
All in all, the room was very convenient for our tight budget.
Now it was time to go to the beach.
The beach was a few steps from our room. We drank Red Horse, ate chips, sound-tripped with guitar and exchanged stories.
When my aunt and uncle decided to go home, we went down the beach and decided to enjoy the breeze (without pollution), waves of the beautiful ocean, and look at the starry skies (too many clouds though).
When we were talking about past travels, we came upon our trip to Burot Beach and how we made tables and chairs out of the sand, 9gag style.
We decided to do it too.
Since the sand here was fine and semi-wet, it was easier to build (unlike before, which it took us 2-3 hours to do).
After an hour of building the sand tables and chairs, we sat on it victoriously. It wasn’t difficult and it was better than last time (since the sand is easier to mold). Then I thought to myself…
This would be our tradition.
When we go to beaches, we must do this!
It was a bummer thought though that maybe tomorrow, it’ll be gone or somebody else is going to use it.
Then it drizzled, so we headed back to the lodge, only to find out we’ve been locked out. After going a longer way, we got to our room, dusted sand off our body (which is sticky btw), then we decided to go to sleep at 1 AM.