Cynthia had relatives over from the States till the 31st which meant this would be one of those New Year vacations that start late (departing on the 31st instead of the usual 28th or 29th) and would be cut short (she is usually able to file for leave until the 2nd or 3rd only).
31 December, 2011
I spent the morning delivering a few gifts, pretty much just waiting for Cynthia to be ready. She said she needed a few hours after her relatives boarded their flight since she hadn’t packed a thing -which was imaginable considering their hectic schedule on this visit to which Cynthia acted as chauffer and tour guide.
My only goal was to get to Baler before midnight. We loaded a full tank on the way to Balintawak. That’s where I started timing our trip. It was 515pm on my clock. We made only one stop and got to our “hotel”, some 260 kilometers away, in exactly 5.5 hours. Not bad considering we traveled at night and, therefore, with more caution.
On the web, Bay’s Inn appears to be the most decent and popular lodging there is in Baler. I signed up for a room near the shore and settled for a “fan only” room thinking it would be cool enough. Well, the room was miserable and it was not cool (literally and figuratively). To make matters worse, their restau was closed. So I spent midnight with PeeWee and Jorge at the restaurant eating Cookies and drinking Soy Milk that I’d brought along while Cynthia passed out in the room.
The only up side to Bay’s Inn’s restau being closed was that their Guard directed us to the adjacent hotel, Bay-ler View Hotel. Their restau was closed as well but the hotel looked promising.
Both dogs, probably because they were in their crates, would not stop whining. I am able to block that out but I didn’t want Cynthia, who clearly needed sleep, to go through it. So I brought them back to the car, with windows slightly open of course, to spend the night.
1 January, 2012
I woke up at dawn and decided to check up on my babies. I also took that chance to check out Bay-ler View Hotel.
I immediately took Jorge to the beach. Jorge, who generally isn’t afraid of water, was terrified of the waves. I had to keep pulling him away from the shore. Twice I tried to carry him with the intention of bringing him deeper so I could see him actually swim (“langoy aso”) but all that got me were scratches here in there from all his resistance.
Each dish at Bay-lew View was good, inexpensive, and apparently good for two. I wish we’d known the latter before we unintentionally ordered up a storm for late lunch/early dinner.
2 January, 2012
The waves were angry. It was such an experience to watch the local surfers ride the waves over yet another delightful Pinoy breakfast by the shore.
I told Cynthia that I would walk Jorge along the shore. I’m glad she joined us. I had no intention of getting Jorge to swim again but the waves were stronger and Jorge was less terrified (or at least less shocked). It was so much fun!
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the room, on the ‘net and watching cable. For the first time, both dogs actually spent the whole afternoon with us inside the room. When PeeWee started to whine I brought him back to the car. Jorge, on the other hand, clearly exhausted from all that wave-dodging, slept for 10 hours! No activity prior to this experience has ever wiped him out that bad. I love it!
3 January, 2012
And I thought the waves yesterday morning were angry…Today there were probably about seven layers of tall waves. It was cloudy. I just knew it meant rain.
We couldn’t really decide which of the Baler attractions we felt like checking out. On our way to the Market, we happened to drive past the Museo ng Baler -the birthplace of President Manuel Quezon; We bought Baler Suman and Gabi Chips at the Pasalubong Center; We found our way to Ermita Hill, in search of a Cross that Cynthia spotted all the way from our hotel; Turns out, Ermita Hill is also the location of the Tsunami Memorial; The “Largest Balete Tree of Asia” was our next and last destination which happened to be on route to Manila.
They weren’t kidding about the Balete tree! It’s huge! We actually went inside it and came out on the other side. An Avatar experience.
The drive back to Manila was pleasant despite slippery roads. I’m glad we got to see the countryside in daylight. The Philippines truly is beautiful.
By about 4pm we realized we were famished, having eaten only Breakfast. We both craved for McDonald’s. So instead of heading to SCTEX, we cut through Cabanatuan City.
From Cabanatuan City, my GPS led us back to SCTEX using back roads (the kind you know you’re passing for the first -and last- time) which saved us a lot of traffic. Because of this, and because the GPS efficiently guided us during the entire trip to and around Baler, I promise to never bitch at it again.