Cliff Threadgold Photography


posted on 2015-07-16 11:00:06 in May 2015

Bus to Baler

Leaving the hotel at 4:45am I was astounded to see how busy the place was, while not as chaotic on the roads compared to the previous evening there was still a continuous stream of traffic and the footpath had lots of pedestrians milling around. Unfortunately due to the one-way system operating on the roads the 800m trip from hotel to terminal took nearly 15 minutes to navigate as it was the opposite direction to the traffic flow and the taxi had to travel down to the next U-Turn place and negotiate the traffic.

The tickets for the bus were bought in advance, which is just as well as there were no spare seats available. All seats were numbered and allocated, I think someone saw me coming, my seat was an aisle seat in the middle of the bus with limited leg room and a view of the toilet door! The long distance buses in the Philippines are quite comfortable with AC, usually a TV, wifi and often with reclining seats in various states of disrepair. This particular bus, called “The Joy Bus” travelled on a 6 hour non-stop trip to Baler, hence the toilet. I wouldn’t fancy being the driver holding on for 6 hours but he did. The luxury didn’t stop at having an onboard toilet, we were all supplied with a blanket, a small bottle of water and a snack bar to keep us going for the journey. One thing I didn’t like was the original plastic wrapping still covering the seats, being a wearer of shorts every time I tried to move I found my legs sticking to the chair.

The bus departed bang on time at 5:30am and the journey was very relaxing. Despite the severe lack of sleep over the previous 48 hours I was to pre-occupied with viewing the scenery passing by and the continual banging of the toilet door. Unfortunately the 2nd person to enter the loo broke the top hinge while trying to close the door, the result of this breakage was that the door would not close properly, unless someone was inside with the door locked it kept flying open and banging closed.

Exiting the bus in Baler the passengers were all confronted with a plethora of tricycle drivers all jostling for the next fare. I had other ideas and went to the ticket office to buy my onward ticket, an old trick learnt many years ago when travelling in China. After only 30 minutes of queuing I had the ticket I wanted on the Wednesday 4:30am bus and more importantly not close to the toilet.

Even after the long wait there were still a couple tricycles about so no problem catching one for the hotel. More was the problem of fitting everything in/on the rig. With my 2 packs plus Sofi and her small suitcase the space in the sidecar designed to hold 2 Filipinos soon filled up. Lucky for me I got the air-conditioned seat sitting on the motorbike behind the driver, sidesaddle. With no foot rest and limited places to hold onto, I was glad it was only 10 minutes to the Surfer Girls Lodge where we were staying. By the time we got there my leg muscles were shaking holding it away from the exhaust pipe and were like jelly when I jumped off the bike.

After dropping bags at the hotel my tummy was telling me it was time for lunch, after all I was up very early. A short way down the promenade from the lodge were some restaurants serving a good variety and styles of food.  Here I also  discovered a Tropical Shake drink, which apart from the brain freeze it caused, was extremely tasty and refreshing.

With an incoming tide, some pretty good waves and the hot temperature a swim in the sea was inevitable to cool off and enjoy being thrown around by the power of the waves. In that throwing around I collected bucketfuls of sand in my togs, ears and up my nose. Even though I showered on the beach it still covered the floor of the shower when I returned later to the hotel.

On the way in earlier in the day I noticed a shop selling BBQ chicken – by now you will know I love my food and I am sure you know what was on the menu for evening meal!