LONG WEEKEND IN ZAMBALES12:39 AM
This blog post highlights a lot of firsts for this year: first blog update, first beach trip, my first time ever in Zambales and our first attempt to surf without an instructor. (hint: We're first timers.) Lame attempt and a dangerous one. I know.
This has been a long planned trip actually. Right after my Masasa escape with Trixia and Chrizel last year, we couldn't stop talking about our next getaway. We already had a couple of destinations in mind: From Bolinao, Pangasinan - La Union - Baler with surfing as our number one agenda. Our trip was suppose to push through at the end of January but we had to re-sched because my 2 companions got sick. Taking advantage of the first long weekend of the year, we picked out Zambales for our destination instead to save up time travel.
I confess: I'm a bit of a freak when I plan a trip. I make it a point to research, read blogs and travel articles. I would even ask out random people I see throughout the web who had been to this destination that I'm about to go and ask a couple of questions. I do that to make sure our trip will be free of glitches and unexpected delays. Upon researching, I stumbled upon The Circle Hostel, a cheap but very recommendable local hostel chain here in the Philippines. This is a perfect place to stay for wanderers if you ask me. I'm aware they've only got 3 branches all up north: La Union, Baler and Zambales. See they have locations in our dream destinations. How awesome is this right? (You guys should check out their Facebook page)
Anyway, I'll be giving you a couple of hints on how to get to the hostel and our allotted budget as well for the entire trip on the latter part of this post but first allow me to share with you how our trip went:
We were supposedly boarding the 9 a.m. direct trip to Iba, Zambales but missed it because there were a lot of commuters in line ahead of us so we had no choice but to go with the 11 a.m. schedule instead and adjust our travel itinerary last minute. Instead of waiting till 11, we opted to ride a bus bound to Olongapo (which has no specific travel schedule) and will be riding another bus from there going to Iba, Zambales. Hassle? I know. It ate up our travel time actually but budget wise, this route is advisable.
We arrived at the Circle Hostel at around 4 p.m. We got all excited that the moment we put our bags down, we explored the entire hostel on a quick breeze and went directly to the beach.
The weather was very gloomy by that time and the waves were really intense. In spite of how tired I was because of our trip, the sea instantly washed them away when I got a closer glimpse of it.
Right after our quick walkathon to the beach, we went to this shake stand near our hostel for a drink and there I met this little fury mister. I wish I could pocket him home. (half kidding) We spent the rest of the day just lounging around the common area of the hostel, eating and finding signal for mobile internet but zero luck.
Although we have an entire day to explore the beach and stuff, we still opted to wake up at 6 a.m. to prepare and head over to the beach ASAP before it gets packed. We had a quick breakfast of Peanut Butter sandwiches and Bananas at the common area first before heading out.
And the weather's still gloomy.
Trixia and I rented our own surfboards and darn the boards handed down to us was the huge ass ones. Not even a single girl can carry it! Well unfortunately, no MAN bothered to help us carry our boards out no matter how struggled we all look. Hmmm. And this is one of those rare moments wherein my man side truly shows, I CARRIED MY OWN BOARD ALONE! With total straggle and sore back after. My two companions carried the other board together though.
We didn't hire an instructor even though we were first timers because budget-wise, it'll be too much. So we tried to learn how to surf on our own which is insane of course because the boards were so large heavy and the waves just keeps on pushing us back to the shore line before we even attempt to swim our way out. I didn't want to put the day nor our rental to waste so we left the surfboard by the beach hut and went back to the hostel first to rest and come back again by noon time.
I went to the front desk at almost 1 p.m. to ask about our surf board rental since we rented it for half day, I was just gonna ask until what time we can use the boards. Ate told me we've already consumed 2 hours since we got the boards and I got confused so I asked "How many hours is a half day composed anyway for the rental?" and she said 4 hours. Now I got really confused. So there's no way we'll be able to surf by noon time since Ate told me our half day rental is about to end within 2 hours which is insane because we got the board at 10:30 a.m.and from what I know, half day is composed of 6 hours. Right when we were inquiring about the rentals, they didn't mention nor cleared out that half day rental is for 4 hours only. If I had known, I would have rented them for an hour instead. We could have saved 200 bucks if we were informed. But nah.
But anyway, I felt so pissed that my companions and I just slept through it. And by the time we woke up, we went to the beach again to just relax and laze around.
We woke up early again to take advantage of the free breakfast that we still have and for the very last time, we all went together to the beach again to admire it before we all come back to the complicated life in the city, to the normal days. It sucks that Mr. Sun chose to rise beautifully on our last day but I guess that's fine. We sat by the sand, we're able to view the entire beach clearly this time. I can't help but wonder "When will I come back? When will I feel this calmness again?" Well hopefully this summer.
As promised here's a breakdown of our budget and expenses during the trip:
Allotted budget for the entire trip: ₱ 2,500 - 3,000 / person
Duration of stay: 3 days & 2 nights
BUS (Bound to Olongapo) - ₱ 207
BUS (From Olongapo - Iba, Zambales) - ₱ 80
Tricycle (Bound to the Hostel) ₱ 30 / person
* If you'll take a direct bus to Iba, Zambales fee is at ₱ 375
We allotted an amount of ₱ 500 - 1000. Since the food cost are cheap in Zambales, 500 pesos would be enough for you if you don't snack too much. It's advisable to bring goods / snacks as well to save more. There's a nearby Tapsihan and big sari-sari store near the hostel in case you don't have any goods / food with you.
We booked a bunk bed which costs ₱ 450 / person and night. I think it's so much better to bring a tent with you and camp out instead because it's cheaper. There are a lot of camping sites and hostels as well near The Circle so you have other options were to stay or pitch a tent in case you don't like it there. For The Circle Hostel, I think charge for ₱ 350 / night and person if you pitch a tent.
It's not advisable to camp out by the beach because it's really pitch black during night time and there's no comfort room as well. There are times when the waves are just too strong that they tend to reach the farther side of the shore.
Surf Board Rentals
We allotted an amount of ₱ 500 for this one.
₱ 200 - 1 hour
₱ 400 - "half day"
₱ 250 / hour - Instructor
How to get to The Circle Hostel
1. Ride a Victory Liner bus at Cubao Terminal bound to Iba, Zambales (direct trip) schedule is every 2 hours from 5 a.m. - 9 p.m. Tell the conductor to drop you off at SAN FELIPE BAYAN.
* If you missed the direct trip to Iba, Zambales, Don't fret. Ride a bus bound to Olongapo instead and from there, ride another bus bound to Iba, Zambales. Don't forget to tell the conductor to drop you off at San Felipe Bayan.
2. Upon reaching San Felipe Bayan, ride a tricycle and tell them to drop you off at Dating pier or much better if they know The Circle Hostel.
3. The Hostel is at your left side so keep your eyes peeled for the sign of The Circle Hostel. (For other instructions visit The Circle Hostel's Facebook page)
extra hint: There's a market near along the drop off point at San Felipe Bayan so in case you need to buy food before you head off to the hostel, please do so.
This is another first time you guys! I decided to document my trip not just with pictures but with a video as well! I took a couple of short clips during our trip and put them all together. I'm a newbie to this whole thing so I apologize in advance in case you find the video a bit shaky and poorly edited. I'm still learning anyway. I would definitely do this again on my next trips so it's easier to share the moments with you guys. Hope you like my first ever travel video. :) NAKS