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Monday, December 15

All the Way from Baguio to Baler—A Winding Story

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You will find this view similar to another one enroute Baguio to Baler.

It was our treat for making it up that summer, for completing our school requirements just in time for the next semester. Summer class is fun, other than spending time with friends; we also get to explore other places when we plan trips outside Baguio. It was a dream come true indeed and it was our longest trip from Baguio. Baguio to Baler is story of memories—from the zigzag pavements of Benguet, rice fields of Central Luzon up to the winding roads of Aurora.


Part 2 of Baler-Aurora Trip: An Exotic Adventure

Baler, Aurora was our first choice for our summer end trip. However, when some other friends knew that Baler was an exotic 8-hour ride from the City of Pines, some of them backed out. Their parents did not allow them to travel that far maybe for some reasons like (1) they haven’t heard of Baler, or if ever they did, what they know is that Baler is in Quezon, (2) they have tight budget or (3) the road is way, way beyond the mountains and safety is their concern. We understood it and so we made plans B and C. The second plan is to camp at Anawangin Cove in Zambales (near Subic) or stay one night in Potipot Island near Candelaria, Zambales. Neither of the succeeding plans materialized because there is one thing common to them that some of my friends find it to be ‘unsafe’—riding an outrigger boat.
Central plains of Nueva Ecija
 So from eight people, we were down to five, and luckily these five people were adventurous enough to explore the unexplored. So we decided to go for Baler, Aurora. The idea of not knowing Baler, although we researched about it heavily, feels like an adrenalin danger ahead, but that same thing makes us more excited to pursue our dream to visit the east coast. Baler, here we come.

There is a direct trip Baguio-Baler bus in Slaughter Compound terminal in Baguio City. If you want to go for this one, check out Lizardo Trans and do not forget to take note of their schedule. The schedule goes as follows (as of May 2013):

4:00 (earliest trip from Baguio to Baler)
5:30
8:30
10:30
14:30 (last trip)

From Baler to Baguio, last trip is scheduled usually at 17:30 so be sure to catch this up, otherwise you need to wait until the next morning to go for direct Baler to Baguio bus trip.

As early as 6:00 AM, we were already at van terminal along Shanum Street in Baguio. This terminal serves route Baguio to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and Baguio to San Jose, Nueva Ecija. You can also actually hire their vans to tour you up to Baler, however, it is only advisable if and only if the driver knows the road well to Baler, knows the different locations of the tourist spots and if probably you are a group of minimum 10 people. If not, just like us who were only five when we had our trip, we commuted via Baguio-Cabanatuan route. I am not sure if there are trips San Jose-Baler route. If there is none, then you have to reach Cabanatuan as there are buses and vans there plying the roads to Baler. We did not go for the direct Baguio-Baler bus trip because we find it to be uncomfortably hot (it’s a non-aircon bus) which we would have suffered for the next eight hours. The only advantage of that is well, the fact that you don’t need to transfer from one bus to another.

From Manila, you can ride Genesis Bus which has direct trips to Baler, Aurora. Otherwise you also need to reach Cabanatuan and from there ride bus/van going to Baler.
 
Cabanatuan Bus Terminal
We were packed up for a two-day trip in one of our country’s hidden gems. We brought foods so we won’t have to buy our snacks along the road. Moreover, we saved some few bucks by doing it and had more for the trip. The van went off at 6:30 AM. The trip from Baguio to Cabanatuan (P225.00) via van is not so exciting. The van went down through Kennon Road, and through the endless rice and corn fields of Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija. We passed by the towns of Cuyapo and Guimba until we reached the capital of the province.

When we reached Cabanatuan Bus Terminal (some of the major bus lines go here too), it was an old one. Different buses are there plying different routes. We reached the terminal at almost 10:40 AM. It was a long trip, but we were just halfway to our destination.
 
Non-aircon bus to Baler from Cabanatuan
We had our lunch (P45 ulam + rice) in a nearby arcade-like compound inside the terminal. After which, we were supposed to ride the non-aircon bus (Papin Bus Line) going to Baler, Aurora. However, we were tired enough not to ride a non-aircon bus to Baler, so we opted to go for the UV Express Van going to Baler. The only problem, the van needed to be completely filled up with passengers or we wait. We don’t know what to do as the two choices are not appealing for our exhausted bodies! Fortunately, a few minutes later, there was a pink bus which arrived. We checked it out and yes, that bus is bound for Baler!
 
Papin Bus (Cabanatuan to Baler)
Funny pandesal store in Nueva Ecija
Aurora Bus Line last trip was at 1:00 PM as informed by a vendor. However, when we rode the bus (student fare @ P200.00, regular around P230.00), the bus already went off at 12:30 PM. If you are planning to ride this bus from Cabanatuan, better be early or you’re too late.

From Cabanatuan, we passed by the towns of Muñoz and City of San Jose. From San Jose, the road goes right to the town of Pantabangan (where Pantabangan Lake is located) and a few road drives lead to a bus stop somewhere near the mountain ranges. The trip continues to the scenic views and winding roads of the boundaries of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Aurora Provinces—from Pantabangan to Alfonso Castañeda to Maria Aurora to Baler.
Pantabangan Town Hall
Alfonso Castaneda Town Hall

Baler rice plains

*There are scenic ravine and mountain view to the right and lake to the left somewhere in Maria Aurora that look pretty the same. Two different views and locations but look exactly the same! When we had our trip, we passed by an area with a lake on the other side. There was a cow standing off the overhang. I and my friends looked at it because we were so curious how come the cow doesn’t fall off the steep ravine. That picturesque view has been stamped in our minds and we laughed it off. The bus continued to move. After a few minutes, my travel buddy told us that the view outside was exactly the same as the one we saw a few minutes ago. I gazed at the view outside. I examined the details—the tree, the mountains from afar, the forest and when I turned my head to the other side, there was also a lake. It was the same. I asked my friend if the bus did some u-turn or diverted to another road but he answered no. The bus only moved in a straight (or almost straight) road path! Muntik na naming baliktarin yung mga damit namin, kaso di namin ginawa kasi ang daming tao sa bus haha. We were struck by that mystery. The passenger in front of us heard us and smiled. He could have probably known about this part of the road. Amazing.

**When we were already done with our trip and went back home, we checked out the road again and see if we were just dreaming when we saw the two views. We were right, there are really two views going to Baler that look exactly the same. It’s for you to find it out too.

Baler-Aurora Trip: An Exotic Adventure Travel Series:
Part 2: All the Way from Baguio to Baler—A Winding Story


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7 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article, please keep writing about your trips / adventures.
    thanks !
    Robert

    ReplyDelete
  2. Van for Hire to Baler contact 09062859000, just text complete name and date of travel. thanks.

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  3. also available van to sagada or banaue. thanks

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  4. hello do you still have the same schedule going to baler from baguio?

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  5. Not sure if they still follow the sched posted above, but you can always double check the sched in Slaughterhouse compound. :)

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  6. hi. i would like to ask if there is a van or bus from baler going to manaoag and time of trips. thanks.

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