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Monday, September 26, 2016

Ride Along Motorcycle Tour to Baler - a new extreme travel adventure tour from Travel Concierge Philippines

A friend asked me if I can join a trip to some destination in Luzon, I told him, "yeah I'm good and I want to go to Baler, because I haven't been there yet", then he said that the only way I can join in their trip is to hop and back ride on a big bike going to Baler. I was hesitant at first because I have this fear of riding a motorcycle because of a bad crash experience during my teens.

But I guess I still have some courage left in me and I think of riding a tricycle in our village, which is safe, or riding a habal habal from EDSA-BGC, that's dangerous because riders are reckless, or conquering a downhill riding a skateboard, yeah that's one dangerous stunt.... in the end, I told him "Okay! Im in! let me ask Enzo and Ted from #EATgetaway blogger team if they are willing to join.

After several chat with Ted and Enzo, I got green light from them and then I went back to my friend to give the go signal. I was transferred to some folks who are running this motorcycle tour, and we receive some short briefing via email on what's going to happen and the details and our requirements to submit.

Me and Enzo got some discussions, because he told me that the trip  will be a day after his birthday, and instead of taking that trip, he wants to go to Baguio for another leg of the motorcycle tour. I told him,  "Dude! staying in Baguio overnight is boring!, let's go to Baler,  its a beach and let's do surfing!", I'm glad Enzo got convinced, Ted too, and all of us are going to Baler for the first time.

Days before the trip, Ted got sick and was hospitalized due to a typhoid fever. Team #EATgetaway wont be complete, but we need to continue our trip to Baler with or without Ted, because we can't cancel everything and the trip is already finalized -- the ride, the hotel, the trip -- everything. Ted went online to find a blogger replacement for him, and to write for his blog, many of his invited people and co bloggers are not available and some of them are not OK to ride a motorcycle, but one brave blogger join with us after accepting Ted's invite. Team #EATgetaway is complete, and thanks to Athena for joining for our crazy adventure to Baler.

The Ride Along Motorcycle is a new extreme travel adventure offered by Travel Concierge Philippines, their CEO and Founder, Pat Favoreal told us that this adventure ride is not for everyone, meaning that you need to be physically and mentally fit if you are going to take this challenge on riding a 1700cc plus big bikes on a highway, mountains and rocky roads.

The Ride Along Motorcycle Tour will transport you on a motorcycle, you have two options:
1. Ride as a back rider
2. Ride and drive a motorcycle

I don't have a license to drive and I don't have the experience driving a long trip, I told them that I can be a back rider.

I learned that their Ride Along team are a member of big bike group and they are an experienced, well trained, and expert riders or drivers of big bikes. I was nervous at first but when you hop on their bikes and join the ride - you'll feel safe and comfy riding the big bikes, because you trusted the rider, the rider will trust you too, you ride as one, as a team, as a partner.


I'm a late bloomer to say, haler Baler! haha. I really reserved that word when I reached Baler.
The town of Baler, Aurora is famous for its long stretch Sabang beach and spot for surfing. They say that the best month to go here is on October, because that's the peak season for the Amihan  or North East Monsoon wind that affects the waves of Sabang beach , perfect for surfing and water sports.

Here's our driving route on a motorcycle. Our first pick up point is at NLEX Petron, there's a van that pick us at different location. I was pick up near Dusit Hotel in Makati, Athena was pick  up near SM Jazz, then Enzo was pick up in  gas station in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

We all met up in NLEX and we met all the Ride Along team and we got our 1st actual briefing for the trip to Baler.

Initial calculation of our ride is 8 hours, from Manila to Baler. But over all, after arriving in Baler, our final calculation of travel time is just 6 hours!!! ride + gas station visit + stop over.


Here we met founders of Travel Concierge Philippines, Mr. Pat Favoreal and his wife Lala. Pat told us that his wife got the revolutionary concept of offering a motorcycle tour. Its the 1st ever in our country to have it as an official ride along tour on a big bike, and it is one of the extreme travel adventure tour that are available under their company.

Its new...many will be afraid to try it, many will raise eye brows and rant about it, but hey! if people can afford and pay for a daring adventure like -- hiking the crater of Mt. Pinatubo, cliff diving, rock climbing, free diving, sky diving and bungee jumping, they too can experience massive adrenaline rush riding a motorcycle transporting them to the best and awesome destination in our country. Pwedeng pwede di ba?

Also, we learned that Travel Concierge Philippines wants you to enjoy and experience the ride of a lifetime, and secondary -- the destination.

The Ride Along team has a formation to follow, they are very strict and every rider and guest rider should follow the formation leaded by the ride master.  (same thing as a dive master).

Rider Ratski - is our spear or lead, always riding in front, he leads the group on the road, spotting the hazards and weather condition. Its up to him if we cancel the ride if ever the weather starts to get worse. Rider Ratski is also the resident motorcycle doctor of the team. Athena back rides behind the wheels with Rider Ratski.

Rider Pat and Lala Favoreal -  Pat is the rider and Lala is the back rider, founders of Travel Concierge, they are the sweeper team. They ride from the back and front, informing the other riders if there are any problems, need to stop, need to drive faster or need to slow down. Pat uses his hand to communicate and show hand signal to our riders if need to stop or slow down.

Rider Ros - my partner rider for two days. Also a first timer to Baler, we rode as one with his Kawasaki Vulcan big bike from NLEX to Baler and back.

Rider Borgs - Enzo's riding partner. Rider Borgs do the hospitality for the rider guest and Ride Along riders. He manages everything from toll gate up to the end of the trip.

Rider joiner Sweetie and Noel - husband and wife rider joiner for our trip. Also Ros' brother. Noel is a master in airbrush art on motorcycle, he owns Marfori customs.

Mang Leo - our convoy van that carries all our things, also carries our refreshments and a stand by vehicle just in case one of us decided not to ride the big bikes and ride the van instead. In the future, they are planning to have a carrier for extra big bikes, not sure if it will be carried by a van or a truck.


Henshin!!! or Rider change!!
geeks can relate, because its the pose for changing a person to a Mask Rider Black.  Btw, I used my GoPro Hero 3+ camera mounted on a wrist band with rotating mount. There are times that I capture some moments using my OPPO F1 camera phone. Other shots for timelapse video, are captured by SJCAM M20, while other photos are from Enzo's Samsung S7 and Pat's GoPro Hero 4.

Gear up! the tour also provided a protective helmet, body suit and knee pads, its a must wear at all times when riding a motorcycle. I noticed that the pro riders only wear helmets, vest, jacket and jeans, I no longer question them why they dont need the armor gear haha, because it can tell that they are pro riders and they are riding in their safety zone.

Btw, for our trip to Baler, the company also provided travel insurance with PHP100,000 coverage, we learned that they are in partner with Pioneer Insurance's Travel Buddy Accident Insurance, me and the #EATgetaway team are using the same insurance program ever since we started traveling as a group, and we learned that we are still covered by the insurance, for that day Athena got her own insurance, for me and Enzo still covered til the end of September.

No worries because we are insured!


All gear up and ready to ride.
Thanks to Borgs for helping us to suit up.


Here's my ride. A Kawasaki Vulcan, so awesome with saddle bag and got my fave color.. Blue!
This ride is destined for me hahaha.


Meet my rider partner. Ros Marfori.
There are many incidents that I bump my front helmet at his back helmet due to crossing a bumpy rides of a bridge or pot holes along the road. Ros always checks me out to see if Im sleeping, he taps my leg if there's something he need to say. We communicate in hand signal too and also shout at each other, we do that because while riding, all you can hear is the flow of the wind and the ROAR of the big bikes.


Our 1st baptismal ride is here at the NLEX highway. OMFGGG we ride the road like an eagle. With up to speed of 140 kmph, I can say that I felt the freedom and also got a chance to appreciate the beauty outside the road. Fresh air, green fields and the warmth of the sun.


Checking out if Athena is okay, and here she waved her hand and means that she's okay.
Btw, her sunglasses fell off on the highway. We're glad that it was just a cheapo sunglasses.


Enzo raises his fist and it means that he is enjoying the ride with Borgs. Enzo deserves to receive an award for the best back rider of the day, this guy shoots photo and video while back riding. That's a dangerous feat. Don't be like him hahaha. Also Enzo successfully edited a video series and uploaded it on Facebook while riding back to Manila...damnnnnn!


Welcome sunrise.....
I talked to the sun and sky and told them to guide us and let there be a perfect weather for our trip to Baler.


Thanks to my GoPro Hero 3+ on a wrist mount. I captured all action and scenes on photo and video.
Btw, I posted video blog series about our trip. Feel free to watch it and take a closer look of how our ride along motorcycle tour to Baler transpires.



First stop over at the end of NLEX tollgate, we're on our way to Cabanatuan City and take a long route to Nueva Ecija. Here's the part that riders and back riders get to know each other. Here I've learned about the road hazards that are encountered by riders.

1. Animals on road
2. Roads under repair
3. Weather
4. Flying goup of insects
5. Motorist
6. People crossing
7. Road debris, trash and animal poops
8. Stones and debris from landslides
9. Other motorcycle riders tries to race you (not part of the team)
10. Fog


We reached Nueva Ecija, my trivia here is: Its my first time in Nueva Ecija! hahaa
Its mid morning maybe around 9am when we reached this town.


The fun part of riding a big bike and with a group riders is that people appreciate our arrival, where ever we are, people look at us, wave us hi and hello and some of them take pictures of us crossing the road. Some motorist too gave way when we arrive in a busy town, I noticed that motorist respect the big bikers, I don't know why, maybe because they saw that we are on a convoy and we have rider leaders that direct us where to go, and where to cross to escape a traffic in the middle of the town.


There are some "pasaway" motorist along the way, Im glad that our sweeper rider is always there to confront them to stop and not do anything stupid that can break our convoy formation. Just to make sure that everyone are safe.


Low camera angle captured my back riding adventure along the highway. I always hold the back rest metal back behind me because my weight keeps on shifting forward, I use that to anchor myself and also glue me while I film the entire journey. But holding the metal bar for hours (6 hours) gave me some hand sprain.


My partner rider Ros points at me the beautiful green rice field in Nueva Ecija. I got amazed on the vast range of the rice field, its the biggest land ever that I saw filled with rice plants.


Arriving in Maria, Aurora.
Our stop over made us do lots of photo ops to document our trip. Behind me is the mighty Sierra Madre mountains.


We're already on a high altitude, and I can feel the cold air already. The other side of Sierra Madre is Sagada and Baguio.


At first I thought it was a lake, when I looked at the other side of the road, I saw a deep ravine. We're in the highest part of the mountain and above is the Canili and Diayo Dams and Reservoirs. Wow!! what a view! if ever I will come back to Baler, I will stop here and try to explore the dam via canoe.


Riding smoothly conquering the twisties of Maria, Aurora, the gateway to Baler, Aurora. Its the fastest route going to Baler and the zig zag and sharp curves gave us an exciting ride. You have to focus and watch the road, you need to shift your body weight when the bike starts to follow the curve, you follow the body movement of your partner rider for safety ride.


"Gas stations are like our shangri la, we say woohohoho if we saw a gas station", according to sir Pat Favoreal. It means that they chose to do the stop over here because its a friendly place for them and for the their bikes. They can gas up here, do repairs, re-group, do CR break, eat snacks and relax.


Carinderia or fast food on street is also a shangri-la. They offer home cooked food with a cheap price. Here at Baler, we ate in a carinderia, and wow! I super loved that "Sinigang na tuna" and "Giniling". My energy depleted after the 6 hours ride, but thanks to a carinderia stop over for lunch, my energy is back and all charged up.

Naka dalawa kanin ako, dalawa ulam, dalawa softdrinks and isang cup of ice cream. hahaha Thanks to sir Borgs for the treat!


Finally...finish line!!
We are in Baler.


Sabang beach, one of the beauty nature wonders of Baler. Not yet crowded, for me the best month to visit it is on August and September. hahah! I felt like that we own the entire beach.


My 1st walk in Sabang beach, this is the moment where I absorb the beautiful beach, and I just let the beach also absorb away the stress. I just can't believed that we made it  and we survived the Ride Along Motorcycle Tour to Baler.

Naysayers, said its dangerous to travel on a bike, yes it is dangerous, it will be dangerous if a rider is a not experienced rider, or not in a condition to ride. But thanks to God that all are safe and we are here safe and sound.


For first timers, all we did for the 1st hour at the beach is do some photo ops haha


ME, Enzo and Athena


We stayed here in Old Parola Seaside Cottages, its a partnered hotel resort for the Ride Along Motorcycle Tour.

Old Parola is our home for 2 days here in Baler. I can say is that its the affordable and comfy place to stay near the beach of Baler.


Our home...a bahay kubo or hut complete with beds, CR and airconditioning.


Old Parola is located at the beach area, one step out of your room, and another step to the back gate, will bring you at this exact spot!


Me inside my room at Old Parola. I took a bath after we arrive, took some CR breaks, charge my phones and gadgets and wait for our call time for a merienda.


After a one hour rest, I went out and I saw our gang already enjoying some merienda.
An iced cold Coke just made my day haha.


Before sunset --- we got a chance to try surfing. Thanks to our mentors from the Freedom Surf School Baler, for teaching us the right way how to ride a surf board.

I do skateboard for years, and I've flowriding too. But surfing is on my bucket list and I must try this and see if surfing is really for me.


Here's my 1st ever surf..... that's me wearing a black rash guard. I just kneeled on the board and didn't got a chance to stood up hahaha. My upper body has no strength to pull me up, and this is a sign that I need to work out first, work on my upper body, that requires a lot of push ups, pull ups and a series of squad trust.

I failed on my 1st surf...but that's okay, I can go back next time, but I need to work out first.


I quit trying to surf after a series of failed attempts. I told my instructor that I need to stop because I can feel body aches already. So me and Enzo went back to the sandy beach and watched the two riders and Athena do a successful surf ---- kainggit!


Athena surfing all the way....she's the only one who manages to stand up and enjoy the ride of the waves.  Later on, she got invited to compete for a beginner's cup for October. ayon!!! i career mo na yan Athena!


I went back to our room and clean up myself after the surfing activity. If you saw my VLOG series, you know what happened here hahahah.


After our dinner, I booked a one hour spa massage at Old Parola,  there I experienced an awesome oily rub and massage that helped me in removing a lot of stress and body aches that I got from the surfing activity. Im glad that I booked a spa, because I can tell that those body aches will be present the next day and its not comfy riding back to Manila with some pains on my arms.


The next morning, I received a briefing that we are scheduled to ride back to Manila at 10am, so we woke up early to eat our breakfast and also do a short and fast tour around Baler.

Btw, the sunrise here at Baler is awesome!!! too bad that I woke up late at 6:30am


I went back to the beach to say some good byes and then went back to our hotel for the regrouping.


Breakfast time!!! c/o The Shack restaurant, a partner of Old Parola. They offer food that are fused with Indian cuisine. Panalo ang food dito!!!! I tasted the best caldereta with Indian curry spice.


Thanks to Bryan for touring us around Baler. Bryan works at The Shack as a waiter and also as a helper at Old Parola. Hope to see you soon!


At the tour, Bryan brought us here at the site where the biggest and oldest Balete tree stood still for 600 years. It is the biggest Balete tree in Asia and this can only be found here in Baler.

Entrance fee to this site is PHP 5 only.


There's a narrow space in the middle of the roots and stem of the giant Balete tree, people are allowed to enter and climb up the branches. But they limit it only to 3 meter for the height of the climb. Also we noticed that there's a CCTV camera inside hahahah, just to let you know that MOMOL is not allowed inside the Balete Tree.


Our time is limited so we skipped the visit at Baler Museum, then we went here to Baler Food Terminal to shop for some pasalubong. My wife sent me a list and she told me to visit Aling Pacing store to buy her some pasalubong. Unfortunately, the store is closed due to replenishing schedule of their items, Bryan told me that Aling Pacing's products are the best seller in town. We went here at the food terminal as our last resort to take home some pasalubong.

I bought some peanut butter, honey, chili garlic oil, a folder made from buli and a Baler ref magnet.


Going back at Old Parola, sir Pat Favoreal greeted us and did some short briefing. Here they gave us our surfing certificate, provided by Freedom School Surf Baler.

hahaha parang graduation lang.


Before suiting up and ride, the entire team lead a prayer, to thank God and also wishes for safe travel again for us going back to Manila.


After suiting up, I asked my rider partner Ros if he is ready.... that thumbs up is a signal that all are ready and engines are ready to ROAR.

All bikes are in good condition thanks to Rider Ratski for checking and do some mechanical examination just making sure all bikes are healthy.


Riding back to the best ever, because we got another chance to appreciate the beautiful landscape and nature of the Aurora mountains. It will be a long ride again, but its okay, we survived the ride to Baler the other day and it means that we can enjoy another going back home.


In the mid afternoon -- I am glad that my wife and family are just chill when I joined the ride along. I know they saw the photos on my FB and I'm happy that there are no questions asked and none of them are upset. Why I mention this?? because my family and wife forbids me in buying my own motorcycle or scooter, because they know its dangerous outside and they dont want me end up dead in a bike accident.


Here's the thing that made me started to rain... but its only drizzles of rain. Our bikes were so fast and we got away from the heavy rain fall in Cabanatuan City.


I pointed to a direction where we saw the heavy rain fall. We're glad that we are going to the opposite way, back to NLEX.


Checking back my blogger mates!


So we're still okay and alive! ahhahaha. We're here at the SCTEX waiting at the back of long line of cars going to the toll gate area.


its so beautiful..I can see the sun's ray occupying a small portion of the sky.


Ride at night....its the most dangerous scene on a highway. Im glad that the Ride Along team are on a formation ride that helps other motorist to keep their distance away from us.

Road hazards are encountered that night -- rain, reckless drivers and a bunch of flying insects


Arriving back at a gas station in NLEX.... its our finish line. The end of our Ride Along Motorcycle Tour to Baler. Whewwww!!! we hug each other and gave high fives right after we hop off the big bikes. WE DID IT!!

We celebrated the success of our mission by having a dinner at Razons.
After the dinner, we thank sir Pat and the team for taking care of us for two days and for organizing a travel adventure that is new here in the Philippines. After the goodbyes, we rode the van going to Manila and then me, Enzo and Athena, didn't stop the chat and kwentuhan about our adventure. Lakas maka hang over hahaha.

If you are looking for the best adventure of your life, then I challenge you to try the Ride Along Motorcycle Tour.


Bloggers Azrael, Enzo and Athena with the riders of Ride Along Motorcycle Tour


Pee Pee time?? NOT!!


Ride Along Motorcycle Tour 
by Travel Concierge Philippines, a Boutique Travel Company that packs a strong punch


tel: (02) 551 8228

HQ: La Huerta Village Center, Aguirre Compound, Multinational Ave., Multinational Village
ParaƱaque 1708


Old Parola Seaside Cottages

Freedom School Surf Baler

The Shack restaurant

Balete Tree in Baler

Azrael Coladilla is the blogger and founder of Azrael's Merryland Blog. This blog started as a personal blog in 2003, and then converted the blog into a lifeblog about his interest and reporting about pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, technology, food, travel, toys, outdoor adventure, internet and social media. Awarded as the 2009 Most Influential Blogger for Luzon, Philippines, awarded by the Philippine Blog Awards. He is the founder of several online communities - Manila Bloggers Network, Philippine Bloggers Network, Oh My Food! community, Cavite Bloggers, Travel and Blog Community, and Philippine ToyCon. Azrael's Merryland Blog is included in a list of top 50 Blogs in the Philippines , ranked 65th in Top 100 Blogs that Matter , 49 must read lifestyle blog in the Philippines. and rank 40th in 100 Top Philippine Blogs by Feedspot.
He loves to travel, explore, discover, eat new food, document and record his life, meet new people, do photography and collect Transformers toys.
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