by - 12:53 PM

August has been pretty good to me in spite of the many negative vibes I have encountered. I was finally able to give myself a very belated birthday gift: A much needed trip to Baler. I cannot stress enough how badly I wanted to go to the beach ever since my last trip to Zambales last January. LAST JANUARY! Insane how time flies so fast as I'm writing this, it's already the first BER month of the year. 7 long months of waiting (which felt like forever) and finally...BALER!

Baler has always been one of the many beautiful places here in our country that I wanted to visit so badly. It doesn't matter if I burn my butt off for seating 5-6 hours just to get there because I know it'll all be worth it. There were a lot of changes in the plan before I proceeded with Baler btw. Originally, it was me and my boyfriend going together but due to work commitment, he couldn't come with me anymore so the thought of travelling solo triggered. I began researching safe places that female solo travelers can go and felt kind of sad because majority was part of the VisMin region already which left me a few options in the Luzon area: Sagada, Banaue and Pagudpud. Solo travel is something I have never done before. "You going to the beach alone? You're not really that insane yet right?" I remember my former TL telling me when I told her about my plan. Then all of a sudden, in the midst of researching, I found myself half thinking. I felt scared to proceed for my own security. Maybe next time when I feel much more determined and adventurous to go but for now, it's a NO (Oh my god that rhymed!). So I asked a few selected friends whom I think would agree to come with me and found Trixia. 

We encountered a few glitches prior to our arrival in Baler. I left our house at 10 PM because we were trying to catch up the 1st direct trip to Baler at 12 midnight in Cubao. I did not expect how insane the Friday traffic was even at that hour! I arrived 15 minutes before 12 on the terminal and worst, we found out that all trips were already fully booked! My eyes narrowed for a good 3 seconds when I heard the news. I couldn't afford to wait long so we took the Cabanatuan route instead. From Cabanatuan, we had to ride another van bound to Baler which is cheaper. And our journey continued on the most uncomfortable van ride ever. I was mostly crouched on the same position for 3 and a half hours! 

By the way our budget was PHP 3,000 for 3 days and 2 nights, ALL IN. It's very doable, you just have to mind your expenses all throughout the trip. We went a bit beyond the budget because we were eating all the time! Also, find the cheapest accommodation possible to stretch your budget. We stayed at The Circle Hostel. They have pretty cheap rates depending on the season. We were charged the "off season rate" which is PHP 450/night & head for a bunk bed. The main mode of transportation in Aurora is tricycle. Haggle as much as possible to tricycle drivers who can take you around the spots in a budget. Trixia and I spent 350 each for 2 days on 2 different tricycle drivers. PHP 150 for a round trip from the hostel to Diguisit Beach and 200 for a round trip from the hostel to Ditumabo Falls, Hanging bridge and Balete tree (We didn't proceed w/ the hanging bridge and Balete tree anymore). I think the price will all vary depending on what you have agreed upon. 

During this trip, I realized a couple of things:

1. That I am not made for trekking or going up mountains. We trekked to Ditumabo falls and even though the path wasn't totally complicated, I was complaining all the time and kept asking our guide "Kuya, are we there yet?" 

2. First time experiences aren't so bad. I have a knack for places I have never been to and slowly crossing out the many things I have never done. Like trekking and seeing an actual waterfalls and soaking in it. I was in total awe and wonder as to how come the water from the falls doesn't run out and doesn't flood in the entire area??? I mean, I'm curious. God created such beautiful places.

3. That I can live in Baler.

"Travel now, worry later." were the words I made out in my head that I want to leave behind as my track while I looking through the many words past travelers from the hostel has left behind. You get to paint and leave behind your "tracks" on the walls or pretty much anything at The Circle Hostel. I realized it takes some quiet time in a much calmer place to get a regular person's rhythm back again. Baler, you got me. I almost never wanted to go because everything just felt so chill. This is the kind of life I'd choose more than anything: simplicity.

#WHERESTEPHYWENT is a hashtag I made to properly label and document my travels. You may check out the hashtag on Instagram to see the many beautiful places I've visited. I will make it a point to document my experiences and travels (through the hashtag) and improve the way I speak in front of the camera. I still feel and look awkward! Please let me know what you guys think about the vlog! Thank you. x

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