How I Roll Solo in Baler

One of my favorite go-to places for a solo trip is Baler in Aurora, located 267 km away from Manila.  It’s easy to go there, I know my way around, and the people are ever so nice that I consider them family.  Here’s how a Saturday-Sunday weekend trip  in Baler looks like for me.

Bus Line to Baler
Genesis Transport (Photo from Genesis Page)

Genesis is the most reliable transport service to Baler.  To get seats in the luxury Joy  Bus, it is best to buy them in advance since tickets can get sold out fast.  In addition,  you can buy your return tickets from their Manila office or online.  For let’s-see-how- it-goes kids like me, catching a lucky regular trip can be for you, but take note that  these trips don’t have regular timing, tickets can’t be bought in advance, and there is always a chance you’ll sit on one of those tiny and uncomfortable middle aisle seats.

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The Circle Hostel

Home in Baler is The Circle Hostel.  For P500, I get a bunk bed with shared showers and an awesome common area.  Safety-wise, I have never heard of any bad incidents  happening and none have ever happened to me (the theft or assault kind).  Breakfast  of peanut butter, bread, and bananas are also free, but I always go overboard on my  bill with coffee.  However, at P40 a cup of local brew, coffee is always worth the  splurge.

The hostel’s common area is a good place to chill in the afternoons or at night (they  sell beers), strike a conversation with other travelers or a place to read a good book.  A few weekends ago, a travelling yoga teacher was staying in the hostel, so there  were yoga classes at that time as well (check their social media pages for updates).  I tend to overspend on meals wherever I am, but good affordable meals in Baler  include the Wapang-wapang meals (starting at P99) at Kusina Luntian, which can get  crowded to best to come early.   My personal favorite eating joint is The Good Food,  located at Buton Street.  Their grilled chicken is so soft I compare it to eating  marshmallows (seriously, it’s that good).  The fish tacos and grilled pork chops are  also awesome (from P70 an order).

If you have a lot of extra moolah, head over to Costa Pacifica.  Their pizzas are good  and you have a nice view of the ocean plus some refreshing afternoon breeze at  Beach House, their in-house restaurant.  Coffee is also good here but for your fancy- schmancy coffee needs, head over to Charlie Does (behind Costa).  I was here at night  to spend some time alone and noted that they also serve craft local beers (as well as  international ones).

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With the boys of El Dawn.

Surfing: primarily the reason I come to Baler over and over again.  I usually just end  up hanging out with the boys of El Dawn Surf School, led by Kuya Jayson Iglesia.   Always fun memories with that crew.  They are located between Aliya Surf Camp and  the North Shore (near that big hotel ongoing construction).  The waves that break here  are often bigger than the rest of Sabang beach (waves get bigger as you move up  north), so I’ll end up surfing in front of Aliya Surf Camp.  However, this spot is usually  not as crowded, so it’ll be me, the boys, and a few locals in the lineup.  Surfing is also  best before the wind blows in, so that’s early morning before lunch or late in the  afternoon.  Lunch time before leaving Sunday was fish and grilled eggplant with the crew.  It  always humbles me how these people own so little but give so much.  This is why I  consider them family.

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Leaving Baler is always bitter sweet and 30 or so hours are never enough but hey, there’s always another weekend coming up!

 

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