Gone Solo: BALER (Part One)

Given a more relaxed time I have now in this quarantined state, I get to reminisce my love for travel and realize I haven’t gave full justice to my Baler solo trip last February 2019, and now is a high time to look back and give it a full blog. I’ve briefly mentioned the trip on my Gone Solo: LuzViMinda blog last year, you can check it out. The thing with solo trips is that, it can go either daunting or exciting, or something of both. Once there, you can either fully relax without thinking of companions or feel overwhelmed with what to do alone, again, it can be something of both. I’d like to think that I’m an ambivert with introvert as my main trait, so for me I like doing stuff at my own pace, at my own time, while giving off enough energy to explore my surroundings and have fun at the same time. This solo trip to Baler was like my fifth-leg beach getaway and second solo trip during my five-month “sabbatical”, and I’m still glad I did it, doing solo trip may not be for all, but I’d recommend it. It felt bittersweet but it was rewarding to the soul.

It was around midnight of February 9th when I left the house en route to bus terminal going to Baler. I took a Joy Bus, a point-to-point bus straight from Cubao to Baler, since it has a limited seating capacity of around 20 seats per trip, booking and securing a seat needs to be done in advance. The price was around Php 700 for the single trip if I remember correctly, it comes with a free snack(bread and juice pack) and a bottle of water and a blanket to use. We left at two o’ clock with the trip expected to be smooth and fast as it is wee hours of the morning. The travel was smooth until we reached the curvy Sierra Madre mountainside roads around two hours away from Baler, the straight curves every now and then which lasted for more than an hour combined felt like a nauseous torture, I’m not gonna lie. So if you have motion sickness too, better double or triple your dosage.

We arrived past seven in the morning on a magnificent sunrise, it was a fast five hour bus ride given we have traveled 244 kilometers from Manila, compared to the last time I was in Baler around a decade ago, the travel took eight hours. I remember having minor chills even after getting off the bus, which I dunno if it was a result of the nausea or if it was really that cold in Baler, I had to sit it out on some souvenir store for several minutes in direct sunlight and with what’s left of my snack(bought some souvenirs too since I’m already there!). Since it is way too early to go straight to the place I am to stay, I planned on visiting Museo de Baler first. Doing some research prior the trip has always been helpful, thanks to Google Map, same thing I did on my solo trip to Siargao, studying the roads and estimating the travel distance is a big help in planning a day’s agenda. Once I’m all good, I took a tricycle ride to the museum, but it is still too early and the museum opens at eight in the morning so coincidentally, that gave me a perfect excuse to get a proper breakfast.

I found myself at King’s Kitchen just a few steps away from Museo de Baler, thanks goodness they were open that early. I ordered a good old tapsilog and a cup of coffee, it’s a morning must-have. Museo de Baler has a leisure and garden park within its compound, it is an old museum building displaying historical artifacts, paintings, ethnic exhibits from the region such as Dumagat and Ilongot, and photos and memorabilia of native son Manuel L. Quezon, the second Philippine president. One exciting piece for me was a visual art of colors and black installed on the ceiling that depicts the modern and old cultural significance of Baler.

Once done on the museum, I can’t wait to go to the beach and explore Nalu Surf Camp where I booked my accommodation for three days and two days. I took a tricycle and went straight to Nalu Surf Camp, checked-in and was assisted well. Nalu Surf Camp is such an amazing resort, it has security, the garden and plants are well kept, it’s clean and cozy, it has a pool alongside the snack bar which is located in front of the beach therefore it boasts a great view of the beach itself. The beach is waving at me and I can’t help but get lost and take in its beauty. It was a beautiful morning and the sun hits the beach perfectly, the waves were alive, the sea breeze was welcoming – it was breathtaking. I always love the feeling the view brings, I mean each beach experience is special in its own way, and it is always a feast for the senses. You just want to take everything in. I took a walk around the resort and by the beach, and took some photos too of course. The resort is temporarily closed right now because of the pandemic and I hope the business would still able to recover after.

Before I go to the accommodation, I’d like to highlight Nalu Surf Camp’s Snack Bar or Café which pretty much have delicious and for me, affordable dishes for lunch and dinner, in addition to the all-day breakfast they have. I was pleasantly surprised with the taste and they were presented well, that made me decide to don’t go far and look for a place to eat, I was already at the right place to dine for the rest of my stay. I’m not much of foodie, I don’t blog food but because I had an unforgettable delectable experience, here I am, posting food photos and I’m gonna talk about what I had during my stay. The lunch I had was a Fried Chicken rice meal and I ordered Dynamite on the side, the chicken was fried perfectly to golden brown with the meat still tender. For the dinner that night, I ordered Kare-Kare rice meal which is a dry version from usual saucy one we get, and then I also got a watermelon shake. The next day, my lunch was a Binagoongan dish, which is also a dry version of the common one, as the meat is fried along with the vegetables. For my dinner it was my fave Beef Caldereta, loaded with bell pepper, potatoes and carrots. And finally on my last day, for breakfast I got Tocino and egg fried rice meal.

They all exceeded my expectations, they must have a really good chef and recipes, and they are dedicated to deliver great-tasting food whatever time of the day, or whoever’s ordering. I didn’t plan to eat that much on this trip but it was worth it and it added a really awesome experience with Nalu Surf Camp. This should be just the first of two parts of my Gone Solo Baler blog, on the second part I’ll be sharing more of my experience with the accommodation, finding spots for a self-portrait, and of course beach surfing!

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