December 31, 2014

Taking it Slow (Baler)

When I was a child, I found days to be slow, but I never wished for it to go faster. Now that I’m older, it seems that the days are always in a hurry to be over. Often I find myself wishing it would go slower – stop even.

The pace of life in Baler reminds me of my life back in the province (and Siquijor for some reason). I like it.

A. Getting There

From Manila, you can ride a Genesis bus to Baler. Regular trips costs 450php while deluxe trips via Joybus costs 700php. Take note that Genesis doesn’t have reservations for regular trips so be at the station earlier than scheduled. Also the road to Baler is bumpy, it is wise to stay away from the back seat of the bus.

B. Places to Visit

1. Oldest Balete Tree in Asia

According to locals, this Balete tree, which is about 600 years old, is the oldest in Asia. In the past, visitors were allowed to climb the tree, but to preserve it better, guests are now prohibited to do so.

2. Ditumabo Falls / Mother fall

Getting to Ditumabo Falls would entail one to take a short trek from the foot of the mountain. During the trek, be prepared to get wet up to waist level. The current can be a bit strong so make sure that your sandals are safely secured and attached to your feet.

3. Baler Museum

Baler museum houses stories of significant events in the province. It is also a nice place to take photos.

4. Dona Aurora House

The house is just on the next corner from Baler museum. It is one of those simple, cozy, and old Filipino houses. The study room is inspiring – makes me want to have a similar house :P

5. Ermita Hill

In December 1735, there was a huge tidal wave that wiped the whole town of Baler. Only 7 families who climbed the top of Ermita hill survived. 

By the way, there is a viewing deck on top of the hill (where I did my vanity shot :P )

6. Lukso lukso islet

It’s a scenic place to walk around and take photos. Reminds me so much of Royal Cliff Resort in Siquijor.

7. Baler church

I don’t buy most of the Catholic teachings, but because my friend was attending the Sunday mass and I had nothing else to do – I went with her. It’s a nice little church I guess. There were also flat screens for those who are outside.

8. Sabang beach!!!

Surfing is the main attraction in Baler. When my friend and I arrived, the cloud was dark and heavy because of the looming low pressure area. The waves were big and scary so we were naturally terrified! Hahaha. Nonetheless, with the help of my instructor, Jun, from Michael Surf Shop & Surf Lesson I was able to ride the waves in no time! It was exhilarating! I got worn out quickly though – I stopped the session in just about 30 minutes because my arms cannot push my body up anymore.

I’ll definitely come back next time, but I’ll be stronger. I should really start on conditioning my body next year! By the way, parts of my arms were itchy and swelling after surfing so perhaps there are jellyfish in the area? Just saying.

C. Getting Around

You can rent a motorbike to go around and tour the province yourself or you can rent a tricycle for 800php. I suggest the following itinerary if you want to make the most out of your time without being in a hurry.

Day 1

Rent a tricycle for the day (800php) since the following places are not in the city itself. It would be nice to start around 8am so you can take your time in each place.

Balete tree
Ditumabo falls
Ermita hill
Lukso- lukso islet
Day 2

You can ride a tricycle to Sabang beach and then commute back to the plaza after lunch. All the places after Sabang beach are just short walking distance from each other. Tricycle fare per head is 12php.

Sabang beach
Baler museum
Dona Aurora house
Baler church
Souvenir shops
You can contact Kuya Edwin if you want a guide. He can also be your game-fac-on and jolly photographer! Look at some of the shots we got with his direction, haha!

Edwin Alino
Tricycle/ Tour guide service
0936 708 1666

D. Sample budget

Manila to Baler – 450php
Baler to Manila – 450php
Accommodation – 700/day/2pax
Tour guide – 800/2pax
Surfing instructor – 350
Tip (optional) - 50
Food – 300 to 500

Your budget can range from 3000 – 4000 including souvenirs and what not depending on your profile as a traveler. I spent around 3500 all in.

Overall I absolutely enjoyed this trip! Baler is such a relaxing place to visit. The people were nice and the food was cheap and good. After trying surfing for the first time, I realized that the outdoors make me feel so alive. It is not just trekking, or swimming, or snorkeling but mostly everything about the outdoors captivate me! Hahaha!

Would you look at that, I just wrote 31 blogs and the year is almost over. The holidays are almost over. Well what can we do? Holidays are really the quickest days of the year. Sadly, we cannot slow it down, but we can take it slow and make it count.

See you around!

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