Friday, November 26, 2010

The Baler Essentials: Trip, Resort, Food Finds and Surfing

I made a teaser blog about our recent getaway. And if you guys guessed Baler, the capital of Aurora, then you are all RIGHT! :D

We've had this trip planned waaaay back. And after many cancellations and changes in plans, we finally pushed through last November 19 until the 22nd. My high school friends, Aimee and Kathleen, have both been there last May so I've heard wonderful stories about the place (which so did not help tone down my excitement!). Although I wasn't going to be with Amanda and Trency, I had a feeling it was going to be as great as our summer trip earlier this year!

On the day of the trip we all decided to just meet up at 4am at the Genesis bus terminal in Cubao. Mind you guys, Genesis Transport is the ONLY bus liner that ply the Baler-Manila route. There are other ways however like taking a bus to get to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija, and from there take another bus or a van that'll take you up to Baler.

And another thing about Genesis is that it is strictly a first-come first-served basis. So get there before 4am and you'll be just fine. There are ample trips that go to Baler, so if you miss the first trip, don't feel too bad about it.

So that being said, I was sorta scared we'd run out of seats on the first trip, I was there way ahead of the others and was able to secure a seat. Luckily we got the DE LUXE bus with La-Z-Boy seats! I knew right then, we'd be having a great trip!! SO great in fact my seatmate Aimee and I slept throughout the ride! :)

The trip was a smooth one, kudos to the drivers of Genesis we had a safe trip both going to Baler and back to Manila. It takes an 8 hour journey, but the scenic drive makes it all worth it. I have never seen so much rolling hills on one trip! It was simply stunning! :)

We got to Baler a little before noon, we hired a tricycle (the only mode of transportation in the valley) to get to our home for the next 3 days, ALIYA RESORT. Still under heavy construction, Aliya Resort is owned by Roy Angara, nephew of Senator Edgardo Angara, and also a surfing aficionado. For the foreigners who happen to chance upon my blog, the Angaras are just one of the original families in the province, and also a household name in Philippine politics. I'd go into that in my next blog, the tour of Baler.

For those not familiar with how a tricycle looks, here's a pic:

Aliya Resort is about 10 minutes away from the terminal which is in the center of town. It's in Brgy. Sabang, along with many other resorts along the coastline. When we got there, the restaurant and the additional 3rd floor is being constructed. Despite the construction, it was such a cozy place to stay in. They have these cute wooden seats outside, the place we stayed in to drink and share stories. And at night, it just looks like it glows.

We stayed in room number 3 at the ground floor. It's a room good enough for 4 people, although person #4 would have to get an extra bed. It's P1200 per night (about US$25), really cheap I must say. They have cable, one twin bed and one single bed, and a cool blue bathroom. For the internet freaks, they also have free WIFI.

For a more detailed price list for the rooms in Aliya Resort just click on the image below.

Baler is such a rustic town which means the big food establishments have not yet invaded it and that in itself makes the experience even more fun. But finding food isn't a problem, for lunch and dinner on our first day, we walked to Bay's Inn, one of the nearby resorts. The food servings is kinda small so that makes it a bit expensive. But it was good nonetheless. I found myself ordering spaghetti twice that day.

Bay's Inn's restaurant offers other foods such as pizza, appetizers, and other viands. We saw groups of families having a good time with their food, so I'm guessing their food was good.

But since we were working on a tight budget, we opted for the cheap, but GOOD food. They call it the rolling store, although it's more of a carinderia type and it doesn't really roll (hahaha!). From Aliya you'd have to take a trike, trike drivers know where that is so you don't have to worry about directions. There are several stores all lined up at the side of the street, so you can just take your pick.

The store we always ate in was the first store right beside a small drugstore. It's so small it doesn't even have a name. But despite their being nameless, their food was DELICIOUS! They have adobo (which we ate EVERYTIME!!! Yes it's THAT GOOD!), giniling, beef steak, and fruits and vegetables. And don't worry it's 100% CLEAN!

The food is always 50 million times better when you're famished. And one thing that made all of us super hungry, besides the tour, is the swimming and of course SURFING!

Baler is fast becoming known for those who want to get stoked big time. The waves are HUGE, and according to surfing instructor turned drinking buddy and friend Jonnel, they sometimes have "overhead" and "double overhead" waves. I'm sure it would get surfing enthusiasts out there giddy with excitement!

Aliya's surfing lessons and surfboard rentals are at P350 per hour. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't really into the surfing thing, I just asked NFF Mars to push me through the waves. It was fun nonetheless! :p

We only stayed there for 3 days, but when we left I felt like I left a huge chunk of myself there. It's just so beautiful and peaceful there, the hustle and bustle and the stresses of the city feels a gazillion light years away! The wind, cool and fresh. It's perfect for just finding yourself. And it was extra fun because I met new friends, Mars and Kaye.

Taking a trip to Baler is just so worth it. Plus I only spent P2500 in this whole trip, with all the food we ate and the tour, it was really that cheap! So if you guys are thinking of a CHEAP yet FUN and beautiful place to go to, Baler is one of the places to go to.

I'm going back, definitely, and SOON. I've long since wanted to take a trip by myself, and while I was there with my friends, I knew I'd take my time out in Baler. I'm just hoping that they just leave Baler the way it is, despite foreigners starting to take surfing trips there. No big establishments, no malls, just a plain old provincial town. Mr. Angara, I hope you make sure of that! :)

Up next: The Big Baler Tour! So stay tuned for that! :)

For reservations at Aliya Surf Resort you may call:
Roy Rollin Angara 0999-5831113
Alfred - 09202534814
You may also check their Facebook page just type Aliya Surf Camp in the Search bar.

Manila Genesis Charters and tours, Inc.
G/F Genesis Transport Buidling
704 EDSA corner New York St., Cubao, Quezon City
Call them at 709-0803 or 421-1425
You may also check out their website:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teaser: Valley of Paradise

Just last weekend (November 19-21) my high school friends, and 2 new friends, and I went on a short vacation. The Metro can surely take its toll on you! So what better way to relieve our tired selves than to take a break and escape to this beautiful valley up north. I won't tell you guys first where this is..maybe you guys can take a wild guess! :)

But it's just sooo beautiful, relaxed, and quiet that I have decided to take my ALONE TIME HERE SOON!

So here are some pics I'd like to share. Maybe these pics are a dead giveaway anyway! Hahaha! Will blog about this soon! :D

These pictures are making me miss it sooo much! I have never had so much heartache as the bus slowly took me away from this paradise....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Going Gaga Over Chinese!

Oh yes I love Chinese food. From your next-door Chowking to a North Park, I would definitely eat there! I've had my fair share of authentic Chinese food when Mom and I traveled to Hong Kong and Macau oh-so-long-ago..and sometimes your palate just looks for that same authentic taste! Going to Binondo can be quite a hassle, but luckily there are restaurants here in the Metro that offer quality Chinese food, besides North Park and that small restaurant in Shopwise Libis that I raved about!

So we stumbled upon really good Chinese haunts namely: Mongkok and Eat Well Delicious Kitchen. Both restaurants really deserve a blog of their own, but Chinese will be Chinese right?

First stop is Mongkok. This little restaurant is found in Rockwell in Makati. Mom and I have passed by this without really giving it much thought, until Mom started craving for Pata Tim. We were so surprised at how cheap it was, we decided we would definitely come back here!

Then when my BFFs and I were looking for something cheap, I saw myself sitting in a table in Mongkok in Rockwell ordering (YET AGAIN!) my favorite Soya Chicken Noodle Soup.

Here are the other dishes ordered by our over-ordering friend Amanda.
Yang Chow Fried Rice (a Chinese resto must-have)

Braised Beef Brisket Pot

My friend who was on a stringent diet only had Stuffed Tofu

Salt and Pepper Spare Ribs

This dimsum was really good. Sad thing is I've forgotten the name!

And last but not the least, the first time I met and fell in love with Shao Long Pao! I was sooo amazed by the soup inside the dimsum! Love at first sight!

Overall, Mongkok may just be this unnoticeable little restaurant in Rockwell. But their tasty and CHEAP dishes can sure attract hungry yuppies. It's a great food find and right now while writing this, I am missing Mongkok with all my heart!

Next stop after reading a blog entry from one of my favorite food bloggers, TripOrTreats, I decided to treat Mom to a little and belated birthday dinner at Eat Well Delicious Kitchen. There are 2 branches, one in The Fort, and the other where were we ate in was at Greenhills.

The baby of Law Kwok Keung, chef extraordinaire of Shangri-La, this Chinese restaurant boasts of authenticity. It must have been really good, because even if the restaurant was located at the liblib part of the huge Greenhills arcade, families kept coming in even at 9.30pm! And when Mom and I were here it was right smack in the middle of the Undas long weekend and Greenhills was almost deserted! They must be doing really good Chinese food!

Learning from past mistakes, Mom and I decided to just order dishes we could share. So here's what we ordered! First is my love, Xiao Long Pao. Boy was this dimsum the bomb! You can just have this with Yang Chow and it's over! :) By the way, for the Xiao Long Pao addicts out there, you could order the 8-pieces!

Mom wanted to try this because it sounded cool. Three Cup Chicken Hot Pot. It did not disappoint! I loved the spiciness to this dish!

Of course, Yang Chow Fried Rice! I don't eat rice, so Mom had this all to herself!

We ordered a soup dish through the recommendation of ToT in her Eat Well blog, Wonton Noodle Soup. Dear Lord, it was better than I expected. I couldn't get over the wanton floating around! And the soup was really tasty! YUMMY! It was so good I forgot to take a picture of it! But it's something I'll come back to Eat Well for, plus the Xiao Long Pao!

So if craving for something Chinese, I totally recommend these 2 restaurants! You won't be sorry! They're really good and really cheap! You'd spend less than a thousand, and you'd be full to the brim!

Concourse Lvl., Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Drive cor. Estrella St.
Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel. No. 756-5112

Eat Well! Delicious Kitchen
Unit RP2-A Connecticut Carpark cor. Missouri St.
Greenhills Shopping Center, Greenhills, San Juan
Tel. No. 722-8518

The other Eat Well! branch is at
Unit C Ground Floor, Net Quad Building
4th Ave cor. 30th St.
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Tel. No. 856-9408

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