Monday, March 11, 2013

Surf, Sand and Sun - (3 of 3)

Beautiful morning
   There's just something in Baler that no matter how tired you are the previous day, you would be excited to rise and start early the next day.  I guess that aptly applied for us, because by 7 in the morning, we were already up and getting ready for our surfing lessons.
      Once we got out of our rooms, we headed straight to Bay's Inn Restaurant and ordered for our breakfast.  After placing our orders, I was distracted by the view that greeted us.  The sun had risen quite beautifully over the horizon that I couldn't help but take quite  a number of pictures to capture the moment.   
My fave breakfast

        Afterwards, I went back to our table and eagerly awaited my all-time favorite breakfast in Bay's Inn, which was the tapa flakes with egg, garlic rice and hot chocolate.  Just thinking about it makes me crave for it again.  I used the breakfast stub this time so there was no need for me to bring out any cash.

An hour after, we immediately changed to our rash guards and did some stretching, as our muscles would definitely be taking a pounding once we are out on the water. We then headed to Mahdox Surf, the surf school partner of Istokewa Surf Tours. The walking distance from Bay's Inn was less than five minutes.  We also discovered that Mahdox moved just a little bit farther because apparently, the owner of the land in which they were previously located, decided to open up his own surf school.

At their old spot
    Mahdox Surf, now with 2 levels

    The surfing lessons at Mahdox only cost PhP350 per hour. This already comes with a personal instructor, who would be there to guide you every step of the way.  Before heading to the water, the basics were taught to us which include the parts of the surf board, the proper stance or form to take to be able to stand on the board, and of course, the safety tips.  We were also made to practice  from being in the prone position to a standing position.  Next thing we know, we were all heading out to the water, with our surf boards in tow.  
      One thing I like about the Sabang Beach is that it is indeed an optimal surfing spot.  First of all, you don't have to worry about hitting your head on any rocks because the sea floor is just purely sand. Next, the water is not that deep no matter how far out from the shore you are already.  So for those who are not very confident swimmers, there would be no need to worry as your feet could still touch the ground in case you have to get off your surf board.  Most important of all, you could definitely catch some good waves that would not seem overwhelming especially for first-timers or beginners. There's a sufficient lag time for the next wave, giving you enough time to recover or get your bearings.

Getting stoked!
       Honestly, before I tried out surfing, I always thought that it would be a difficult sport to learn. I just couldn't imagine myself going against those waves and being able to successfully stand on the surf board, no less.  At most, I thought that I would just be able to manage a kneeling position and not a standing one.  But lo and behold, during my first hour of surfing on my first trip to Baler in 2011, I was already able to stand on the surf board for a couple of times.  All you need are some guts, a good balance, and to follow the tips of your instructor.  I found that you really don't need to rush yourself into standing on the board especially during your first time.  For me, it's better to first have a good feel of your balance and then try standing.  

        The feeling of catching your very first wave is so incredible.  It is definitely heart-pounding and exciting as you experience the power of the wave pushing your board from the back, and giving you a sudden burst of speed as you balance on the board.  No perfect word could describe the rush, that you need to experience it yourself to understand the feeling that I'm talking about.  

Catching waves
      The best rides for me are the long rides. This means that you get to ride out your wave almost till you reach the shore.  I love them, because I get to make the most out of the wave I'm riding. But of course, surfing is not all sunshine and rainbows.  Those waves could also be brutal at times, that you need to make sure that you're tightly holding on to your surf boards.  The waves can be very high and so strong that if you're not attentive enough, the surf board might accidentally hit your face upon impact.  Or, the current may also be very strong that you can even do a full 360 degree turn under the water after jumping off your surf board when you get off-balanced.  Also, since there are other people surfing, there may be times wherein you might collide with another surf board that you just have to cut your ride short to avoid crashing to each other.  Swallowing a mouthful of seawater is also a possibility.  Lastly, once the surfing is all done, be prepared to experience body aches and muscle pains all over especially if you're not used to any workouts or if you didn't perform any kind of stretching beforehand.  I don't actually recommend surfing for two straight hours especially for first-timers.  It would be much better if you surf for an hour on a Saturday, and then surf the second hour the next day.  This way, your body gets to recuperate and you can better handle the waves.  But since we didn't get to surf the previous day, most of us decided to take lessons for two hours to make the most of our trip to Baler.

2012 Baler trip with cousins

It's cool how we always have a picture together (Photo from Charms and Bart)
              By 11:30, we started heading back to Bay's Inn to take our showers and to prepare our things.  Since it usually takes some time for the food to be cooked at Bay's Inn Restaurant, we pre-ordered our food.  This way, by the time we're done preparing, the food will be all ready and we would just have to sit and eat.  We all had such an appetite after surfing that we ordered a variety of delicious food to share that includes garlic chicken, inihaw na liempo, calamares, beef with mushrooms, chopsuey, sisig and rice.  Not to forget, I also ordered my favorite chocolate shake.  It's a definite must-have whenever I go to Baler.  Their mango shake and mango-banana with chocolate syrup shake are also highly recommended.  The entire lunch including the shake only cost PhP240 per person.
Perfect for a hot summer day
Now and Then

        After that very satisfying lunch, we just took a few more pictures and also bought some organic suman to bring home as "pasalubong". We then proceeded to the van for our Baler City tour at around 1:30 P.M.

      Our first stop was at the Baler Church, which was also used as the filming location in the movie "Baler". Right across the church is the house of Doña Aurora Quezon. The famous Presidential car could also be found within its premises. In fact, you could even go inside the car and take some pictures.

      Not far from the place is Museo de Baler. The organization and the way things were presented have greatly improved since my last visit.  There was even a photo wall with matching props that avid picture takers can make use of.

     Our last stop before heading back to Manila was the "Pasalubong Center" wherein you could buy various items such as shirts, keychains, gabi chips, and other souvenirs.  At around 3 PM, we were finally done with our tour and proceeded to our travel back to Manila.

            By 7:30 P.M., we had our stopover at the Caltex Station in NLEX and had dinner in KFC. There were actually other fast foods in the vicinity but majority of us wanted KFC.  Once done, we all got back on the van and by the time we reached EDSA, we were bidding farewell to each other as some were already being dropped-off along the way.  At around 9:30 PM, we arrived at Caltex station, Buendia, which was our original meeting point.

              For my blockmates who went to Baler for the first time, all of them said that they would definitely be going back.  I guess it's a common sentiment for anyone who has been to that place...because once you go to Baler, you can't help but just fall in love with place, the food, and of course, the surfing.

            Looking back to my trips to Baler, I can say that the good would surely outweigh the bad when it comes to surfing.  Despite the 5-6 hour travel to reach Baler and the pounding you might get from the waves, the experience itself would all be worth it and is something that you definitely won't regret.  So this summer, why not take the chance and get yourselves ready to be stoked!

Bart of Istokewa Surf Tours

Claiming it!

Paintings housed at Museo de Baler

Photo wall
Till my next trip to Baler

Up next... my 2012 Sydney adventures...


  1. Hi Amil, I'm glad you decided to write about your travel adventures. Looking forward to your Australia series. Since we're on different blog platforms, I've followed your blog by email subscription :)

  2. Thanks Jean! I've been wanting to write about my travels for such a long time but I was just too lazy to do it. Your blog was actually the one that inspired me to finally do it. I hope you win on that contest. :D thanks for following. ;)


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