“Buwis-buhay” (life threatening) is the word that would sum up our second day in Baler. It is by far the most daring thing any of us had ever done in our lives. So much so that it made our first day in Baler seemed painless. In this post, let me share with you two of the most challenging adventures that you could ever experience in Baler, Aurora.
On our second day in Baler, our first destination is the elusive Ditumabo Falls where you can find the Mini-Hydro Power Plant of San Luis, Aurora. Did I say that climbing the PAGASA station is a challenge straight out from Survivor? Forget that! Getting to Ditumabo is the real deal. It involves a pound of patience, great balancing skills, ultimate caution, a ton of determination, and a never-say-die attitude.
Our trike drivers had to brave this very rocky and muddy trail to get us to the drop off point, all the while trying to put up with all those horrendous screaming that we did (in a quality that made us sound like some pigs were being butchered) as we went over bumps along the way.
When we finally reached a clearing, we got all excited to see a river and this mini falls. We soon learned it was just a prelude. We later found out that we had to cross not one, not two, not even three, but four goddamn rivers!
The first challenge is the water current; it is too strong, the kind that says, if you fall and get drifted away, you would be leaving Baler in a casket. Then there were the rocks of different shapes and sizes so you need to practice extreme caution when crossing. There was a moment when I stepped on this one rock that was too slippery I lost my footing. Before I knew it, poof, I fell right on my ass. That hurt!
If we were not risking breaking our necks crossing those streams we were walking; walking in a forever kind of way. It didn’t help that the pathways were rugged, muddy, and narrow.
I’m not good at measuring road length so I’m not giving you that. Let’s just say that it took us about two to three hours, some bruise and scratches, and in my case a painful hip and ass to get to the damn falls. After what seemed like an eternity we reached the last stop and saw the amazing Ditumabo Falls. The mist from the falls was coming too strong that we weren’t able to come up with a clear picture.
I gotta give it to our trike drivers/tourist guides. Thanks to them we were able to get out of the place alive. They braved those rivers like they were walking in the park. While we were whimpering like total losers and trying to keep ourselves from falling, these two were doing it like a boss, damn they must be ninjas! [Read: A Travel Guide in the Surfer’s Paradise – Baler]
We found that going back was a little easier. We stopped in one of those rivers and took a dip. Dip because swimming is virtually impossible with the strength of the current. But it was so nice, the water was cool, the view was great, I loved it!
Surfing Lessons at Sabang Beach
Though it has always been in our plan to go surfing, I changed my mind when we reached Baler. I just didn’t think my body could take any more beating after all those risky adventures we got ourselves into. Also, my hip was still hurting from the fall that I experienced at Ditumabo. But when I watched Rhoda, Alchris, and Gerald during their surfing lessons, I got jealous. Moments later, Athan and I were already listening to our respective surfing instructors from Mahdox Surf (shop and school). One hour of surfing lessons with an instructor is worth PHP 350 but we got a 50-peso discount, thanks to our trike drivers who also happened to be surf instructors.
Prior to surfing lessons, you need to sign a waiver.
No worries first-time surfers, there is a short lesson before you hit the waves. It starts with knowing the parts of a surfboard; the nose, deck, stringers, rails, fins, and tail. Second, you will be taught how to stand on that surfboard.
A surfing instructor explains the different parts of the surfboard
Step 1: Lie flat on your stomach on top of the surfboard.
When you’re ready to stand on the board, the first thing you do is to put your hands on each side of the board, beneath your chest, just like when you do a push-up.
Step 2: When you hear your instructor say, “ready,” bend your left knee.
With your arms, lift yourself up and move your right foot forward.
Step 3: Stand on the board.
Bend your knees a little and keep your hands extended on each side of your body to help your balance.
The surfboard comes with a leg rope, which you have to put around your left ankle. It keeps you and the surfboard at a safe distance and save you the trouble of missing the surfboard if ever you fall in the water.
Looks easy right? Wrong! When we finally went to the water, I seemed to have forgotten everything that I just learned. The waves were forceful and intimidating, to think they weren’t even that big. My surf instructor, Bato (probably a moniker) guided me through the waves as I lie face down on the surfboard. He told me over and over not to be afraid. When we went far enough, he spun the surfboard around and pushed me towards the shore. My first few attempts were, of course, futile. Around the fourth time, we did the routine I finally got myself standing on the surfboard. If memory serves me right, I was able to do it successfully 4 times.
Every time we start over, Bato would give me a few pointers. He told me that I could do it, I just have to work on my stance. He also reminded me to always bend my knees a little. I wasn’t able to use a full hour on my lessons because exhaustion got the better of me. The pain in my hip was also getting worse that riding on the surfboard was getting a lot harder.
The experience was both exciting and frightening, definitely one of the things that I never thought I’d ever do in my life. Needless to say, it gave me a sense of accomplishment and I think my friends felt the same way.
So if you ever get to Baler, never miss these two adventures. Be careful when you trek to Ditumabo Falls and I strongly recommend you give surfing a try. You will certainly pat yourself on the back if you get to do these things.
In conclusion, our Baler trip is one for the books. It had all the elements that make for a good adventure; the beautiful beaches, mountain and river trekking, museums, food trips, swimming, and surfing. We made so much of our little time in Baler and it was all so worth it. I hope that my Baler guide was able to convince you to find the time to visit the place. I’m sure you will love it too.
By the way, if you’re planning a DIY tour to Baler, I highly recommend our drivers, Alnor and Ronald. They are nice, never complain, and they sure know which places to get you. You may contact Ronald at 0919-2212832.