Thursday, February 7, 2013

Surf, Sand and Sun - (1 of 3)

Surf's Up: Ready to be stoked
          Back in 2011, my college friends and I were looking for something new to try.  After all, as cliche as it may sound, life is indeed too short for us to waste the moments that we have been given.  With this in mind, one of my friends suggested that we go and try surfing.  All of us were pretty excited by the idea.  So, it was no surprise that coming up with a plan didn't take very long.  We were all looking forward to cross out surfing from our bucket list.

         Thanks to Suzee, who was very diligent in her research of finding the cheapest (only for Php3000 with 2 hours surfing lessons, accommodation, food and transportation) and most accessible surf tour in the Philippines (Istokewa Surf Tours), we found ourselves heading to Baler, Aurora.  The trip was such a success that I couldn't help but go back again and again.  Just this January 25 to 27, 2013, I was back for the fourth time to do what I have come to love.

         For this trip, our group was relatively larger.  Nine of us signed up for some surfing fun: Angel, Charms, Suz, Ron, Jean, Nao, Kaye, Marge and me of course. Our actual meeting time was at 11:30 PM in Caltex Buendia. Except for Angel, Ron, Kaye and Jean, we went to the meeting place altogether, coming from Cucina Andare, which was in front of Glorietta 3 and Makati Shang.  The estimated time of departure was at 12 midnight, but due to heavy traffic, the van arrived later and we were able to leave at around 12:30 AM.

         In my previous trips to Baler, there were usually three to five vans which go in convoy.  But since it's not yet summer season, there was only one van. Knowing how important it is to secure a good seating spot for a six-hour drive, I immediately headed out, with bags in tow, and sat on the left most corner, first row of the van.  I've experienced riding at the back part of the van during my first trip and it was not ideal if you wanted a good rest.    Aside from the limited leg room, you could literally feel every bump in the road, especially on the last hour of the trip that had a lot of rough roads.  So with my seat secured, travel pillow ready and my music on, I was drifting off to dreamland in no time at all.

        By 2:30 AM, we were already at Cabanatuan to stopover for some much needed bathroom break and to stretch our achy joints and muscles.  A chilly January air greeted us upon alighting from the van.  This made me worry a bit since cold sea water may not be that ideal for a comfy surf. After the stopover, I wasn't able to sleep any longer since there were plenty of winding roads and some rough roads as well.  Though I did notice that more roads have been cemented as compared to the first time we passed there in 2011.
Bay's Inn Restaurant at 5:30 AM
At 5:30 in the morning upon arrival
     Darkness was still upon us when we reached Bay's Inn, Sabang Beach, Baler Aurora.  It was just 5:30 AM, equating to a travel time of only five hours, 1 hour shorter from the estimated travel.  I guess it's because there was only one van so we didn't take that long in the stopover and there was no convoy.  Some friends who were not able to sleep that well in the van, opted to head straight to the temporary rooms provided to us since check-in was scheduled at 12.  While those who were still energized like me, decided to wait for the sunrise. Unfortunately, we found out that we were at the wrong side of the island to see the sunrise, and if ever we were at the right side, it may not be as spectacular due to the dark, ominous clouds scattered across the sky.    

            There were a lot of changes with Bay's Inn upon taking a closer look at my surroundings. They now had tiled floors at the center, which I think used to be a pond.  It now serves as additional floor space for their dining customers.  To my regret however, the nice view in front of their restaurant was now blocked by wooden slats (something like a wooden grill or fence) and a cemented flooring was placed to extend the area almost to the shore.  Before, we could easily enjoy the view of the beach and relax as the sound of waves crashes into the shore.  But now, natural beauty of place has diminished.  No reason was provided as to why this particular change was enforced.

Bay's Inn beach front back in May 2012
Breakfast Buffet
       On a positive note, Bay's Inn now provides a buffet breakfast every weekend for only PhP150.  Or, if you're using the stub that is included in the surf tour package, you only have to add PhP100.  Personally, I think it would be better to avail the buffet breakfast without the stub since doing otherwise means that the breakfast stub is just worth PhP50. When in fact, the meals you could avail from it are worth higher.  

        Since we were already pretty hungry, Charms, Nao, Jean, Suz and I, decided to eat already and try out the buffet breakfast.  They had pandesal with a variety of choices for the spread, toast, hotdog, tocino, corned beef, garlic and plain rice, eggs that could be cooked according to your specification, a choice of hot chocolate, coffee or juice, and a couple more that I have forgotten. The breakfast was actually pretty cheap when you think about it.  Though, I was hoping that they included my favorite tapa flakes in the buffet, but sadly, you had to order it separately.  After satisfying our hungry stomachs and checking in at facebook, we decided to head back to our temporary rooms and get some shut-eye.  This way, we'll be more energized  and ready for the activities in the afternoon.


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