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Baler, Aurora – Feb 27-28, 2010

This blog post might as well have been called “Baler, the comeback.” In August last year, Patrick and I attempted to make a trip to Baler… by driving in my Civic. On the way up the Sierra Madre Mountain range, I decided to abort. At the end of the trip I decided to attempt the drive again… better equipped in the right vehicle. Last December I got my Lakwatsero Mobile, a second-hand Ford Escape with the sheer intent of conquering Baler. As I told my friends, this wasn’t about being in Baler, it was about getting there. So here we go!

To make the trip interesting, I had just come back from a two week trip to the US the day before. So that meant that I was supper jetlagged! Joining me on my trip are Patrick Mineses, RD Cimafranca, and Jonathan Guevarra. I picked up everyone around 6am from Ortigas (well, Jonathan was late as usual) and we were off.

Map to Baler

So here we go again. This is one of those adventures where its about getting there. We started at 6:04am. We drove leisurely on the NLEX… then to the SCTEX and made our way to Cabanatuan City (getting a little lost along the way despite having a GPS which had a mind of its own).

The hairpin turns en route to Baler

And now… the Sierra Madre mountains… again.

Upon reaching that same dirt road that conquered me the last time… I took the Escape as fast as could (which considering the road was around 60 kph).

Roadtrip to Baler

We went uphill, we went downhill, then we went back up again. And eventually we got a river with a downed bridge. I had attempted to cross a makeshift bridge. But then decided to conquer the river.

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After around 5 hours drive across the majestic though winding roads of the Sierra Madre mountain range… we made it!!! We got to Baler around 1pm.

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Mind you, we had no hotel booked. The idea was pretty much “bahala na.” But I did print out some references for when we got to Baler. I then consulted Ivan Henares’ Travel Blog and noted his mention of a place called Bahia de Baler. So it was there where we ended up. Luckily they did have a room for four.

Bahia de Baler

It was a nice and very clean hotel. They had free WiFi… but alas, we were on the third floor.

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Above is the view from our balcony.

So we were hungry… crossed the road to the resort’s seaside restaurant…

Bahia de Baler Bar and Grill

It was a very nice little place. Good food!

Bahia de Baler

Aaah… Lechon Kawali. WIth taba and laman!

Baler

The famous Baler Bay! The Pacific Ocean!!! There were indeed a lot of surfers on the beach… locals!

After lunch… the others took a swim. I took a nap. Hey, I was tiered from diving. Anyway, the guys had to memories from the swim because Patrick’s camera became victim of Baler’s waves and was lost to the sea.

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Before sun down, we rented some bikes and decided to go around the town. Above is a statue. Behind the statue is the Museo de Baler… which of course was closed by the time we got here. I didn’t stick around, I was still sleepy (and jetlagged remember!) so I went back to the hotel.

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Chile Earthquake! Tsunami Warning!!!

Later that evening we heard on CNN that there was an earthquake in Chile. After dinner, just as we were busy Facebooking and e-mailing, the front desk calls our room. In a very calm voice, the lady on the end tells us that we were at Tsunami Warning Level 1 and just to be ready in case we needed to evacuate. I put down the phone. Thought for a moment. Then told the others.

Of all the luck. The one time that I am on a trip to the Pacific Ocean and I am told that a Tsunami might hit. Wow. As in.

We spent most of the night watching CNN and I surfed the net looking for more details. Pagasa then reported that, if ever there was one, it would hit around 2pm the next day.

Ok. I then decided. Just to be safe, lets leave after breakfast.

 

Catching the sunrise

I got up early to catch the sunrise. I dressed up and went to the beach to take pictures.

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Ok… so I got to the beach around 6am or so. Kinda early in my mind. Here is a scene which amazed me…

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The beach was full of people! Most were locals. Some tourists. Do you know what they were doing. They were waiting for the Tsunami!!! Haha… everyone was talking about it. It was so Sureal!!!

Nonetheless, the was still beautiful!

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After breakfast we made our way back to Manila. We left around 8am.

The alternate route

The trip back was also fascinating. At a particular fork in the road, my friends suggested that we follow this bus that was also coming from Baler. I decided to follow it and overtake it so we knew where it was passing. It was a Genesis Bus. I passed the bus and noted… it was heading for… PASAY CITY. We consulted the GPS and it recalculated an alternate route. This route was mostly paved and this is where all the traffic going to Baler passed. Hahaha! It was of course THE bus route. We probably passed around 4-5 Genesis Buses heading for Baler.

The route was actually longer. But since it was paved, it took us the same length of time. So note. There are more than one route to Baler. A scenic winding dirt road. And a longer paved bus route.

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