CS Weekend Escape: Surfing at Zambales

In my desperate attempt for a weekend escape from all the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila, I turned to newly-found and not-yet-met CouchSurfing friends and folks to go surfing at Zambales!

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Unleashing the surfer babe in me!

But of course, backtrack a little bit: most of us got bottomless on tequilas and hit the dance floor first (Payback Friday mode at Agave and 7th High) before hitting the beach! Special thanks to Jen for organizing, Craig for keeping our bags at his pad, and Abby for the magic password for Guest List at 7th high!

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Bottomless margaritas and mojitos at Agave Cantina, Bonifacio High Street


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Where the party people at?

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Getting up in the sky at 7th high

And, as a result, most of us are “dead” on the butt-aching but totally worth it 5-hour bus ride (430-930am) from Pasay City Victory Bus Terminal to San Felipe, Zambales.

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Ending up “dead” at the bus (even Vineet who hosted a party at his home!)
Bus Matt and Anthony
Darkness. Total darkness.
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Good morning baba!

Two ladies though, Ciel and Elizabeth, are all smiles while the rest snoozed–they skipped the party and met us at the terminal. Special thanks to Elizabeth for buying all 10 tickets while we were scrambling to reach the terminal after the party!

Bus Ciel and E
Fresh and all smiles!

Upon arriving at San Felipe, we had to take a tricycle to take us for the 2km dirt, mud and puddle road that leads to the beach area of Liwliwa. This is also one of the famous surf spots in the area. Fare for the trike is P30 per person, 3-4 people in 1 trike. I think if you are alone, you have to pay 100. Driver gets extra 10 for a lighter load. Weird.

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Local auto-rickshaw version

Anyway, the trike brought us to our accommodation of choice, The Circle Hostel! I guess it’s not peak season or more surfers/first-timers decided to hit La Union (where I first experienced The Circle) instead. Anyway, this was good news for us coz we got to choose Hammocks at P250 or bed (above the hammocks) at P350.

Hammocks
I dunno why this photo is so small!

After settling in, the next agenda is food. We had “breakfast/brunch” at the Silog house just in front of The Circle. Food was cheap and ok but it took a while to get served. Probably also coz there’s 9 of us (Kapil is vegetarian so no silog for him) all wanting to have food! Anyway, the waiting time at least gave us the opportunity to get to know each other some more, coz most of the people met each other for the first time at the party or the trip. After this, I took a well-deserved shower, while others headed down to check the beach. Kapil, Matt and Anthony decided they wanted to hit the waves already so they rented a trike which took them to Pundaquit, another popular surf spot, for P150 each, round-trip. It was more than an hour’s ride they said. Most of us, decided to stay back and just chill and attempt to sleep by the vacant cottage near the shore.

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Chilling by the cottage

After some time, we decided to finally go for a swim, play with the waves and be under the current’s controls. Ciel, Patrycja and I actually dared Vineet to be burried in the sand. He actually enjoyed it, saying it was like a spa! We also returned to The Circle area and had lunch at Mommy Phoebe’s. By this time, other joiners (Alex arrived by himself, Mariane arrived with Federico and Daphne) have, well, joined! We returned to the beach for some booze by the beach and more dips. We also played, or attempted to, patintero–a local game of running, tagging and laughing!

playing with the waves
Playing with the waves (our bodies made us regret this after)

After getting tired fighting off the really strong undercurrent (note: if you do not know how to swim, always be conscious to try to stay in the shallower parts where your feet can still touch the seabed), we decided to return to the cottage. And, it’s time to enjoy more booze by the beach! I thought E’s gonna be doing the walk of shame but then the “gentlemen” relieved her of that duty!

The Cottage
The Cottage

While waiting for them to return, we again went for a swim. We just can’t resist the inviting ocean. We never learned. The waves just kept on crashing at us. But we didn’t care. It rained. But then the sun wants to shine again. Just so it can set perfectly over the West Philippine Sea.

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High tide and we don’t care

I’ve always enjoyed sunsets, more so the ones at the north. And this one at Liwliwa was just so beautiful. We practically just laid down on the sand and watched it set. I dunno about the others but seriously, I was just muttering “wow” and “amazing” throughout.

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

When it was already dark, we realized it’s about time to return to the cottage. The last expected member of the CouchSurfers on weekend escapes, Vince and Lyn, has arrived from Crystal Beach too! But by then, the booze search party already got back and we just had to have one last round at the beach. And then E started this “I have never ever…” game with statements ranging from G to R-18. I have quite a selective memory and though it was fun, I think my mind, especially after the alcohol intoxication, just decided not to remember the statements and the responses! More especially for the second round after dinner!

We had dinner again at Mommy Phoebe’s or at the Silog place. More beer kept the food and conversation more interesting. And, for some reason, everyone just shifted to red horse (except Anthony and Ciel!) and yes, had quite a lot. (Me included!). But, it was a good kind of getting tipsy and wobbly as we headed to the beach (all 16 of us) to make a bonfire out of rain-soaked wood! How we managed to do that remains a mystery to me but cheers to lead arsonist Lyn, and her crew: Elizabeth, Alex, Vince, Federico. (others???)

Beach bonfire arsonists
Mission Impossible: beach bonfire
Beach Bonfire Group orig
The “impossible” bonfire just became a reality! (for about 5-10 minues)

After falling asleep twice while sitting on the beach, I finally decided to call it a night and head back to The Circle. I think some people followed 30 minutes after that, while others fell asleep on the beach! Of course, they eventually found their way to the hammocks or beds but as to how, not all of them remembers. Hehe! And, after a cold night’s sleep, I woke up at 530am, to the sound of early risers who wants to catch the waves at Pundaquit. They are more of the pros though. And I wasn’t the only one asleep. I found Alex and Ciel already having coffee and Kyle getting ready to walk around! We had the free breakfast (bread, peanut butter and banana) at the common room where we met Ena, Miki and Nikki!

with Skimboarders
Early risers! Breakfast with Ena, Miki and Nikki

The three are friends, from school and from work. Ena and Miki are primarily skimboarders. I think Nikki is new in skimboarding and surfing. She is, to our surprise, also a CouchSurfer. She also saw my Weekend Escape post at the CS Manila page but then, at the time, we were still not sure whether we were bound for Zambales or Puerto Galera. Do I even have to tell you we made the right choice?! 😉

Anyway, so since most of the CouchSurfers are still sleeping or having breakfast, we decided to go and have an early dip. But, seeing how exciting playing with the skimboard can be, we decided to give it a try. We got free lessons from Ena and Miki too!

Skimboard Gera Miki and Ena
Getting the “level unlocked” advisories

Apparently, falling is part of the lesson. Fall on your backside, level 1 unlocked! Fall and hit your head on the sand, unlock level 2! Fall on your tummy, level 3 unlocked! Fall and get some scratches, unlock level 4!

Skimboard Alex
Yep, all part of the lesson!

So whenever you fall, just always get up. Don’t worry about the wounds or bruises, there’s supposed to be a lot of them. Just, you know, have fun! (safety note: do not attempt to break your fall with your arms. your elbows might pop. seriously.)

After some skimming, it was finally time for surfing! I mean, hello, it’s a surfing weekend! 😀 We had to walk for about 15 minutes from the original beach mainstay the day before reaching the surf area. Waves are better there according to instructors and the current’s not as strong (though it still was pulling/pushing us) as the other break areas.

Getting surfing lessons - a must
Getting surfing lessons – a must for first-timers. Getting instructors to push your board and say “Up”, also a recommended must!
Surf Patrycja and Kyle
Patrycja and Kyle (real surfer) aka private instructor! ;p
Surf Ciel
Ciel, on her third try!
Surf Vineet
Vineet, on the nth try!
Surf's Up
My instructor was so worth it! hehehe
Surf Alex
Alex, also a first-timer
Surf Anthony
I think this is the best surf shot of all

Yes, I purposely did not put the wipe out photos. Coz I want us to look cool. Ha! And we want you to be encouraged to go surfing. Most of us have never ever tried surfing before this trip!

Surf Matt
Matt, the day before. Coz we never got to photograph him on the “surf day”
Ciel board
Just because Ciel looks really cute and cool in this one!

After surfing, we got hungry and headed for lunch. We also decided that we’ll head home by 4pm in order to catch the bus and get to Manila at a decent hour. Once decided, we all figured we can go for another swim, tan or just good ‘ol chatting fun. Others also decided to join in the skimboarding bandwagon. Again, many thanks to Ena and Miki for teaching us!

Skimboard Ena and Craig
Finally, some action for Craig (even though his limbs and joints were sore!)
Skimboard Craig
And yes, he also learned to skimboard, perhaps remembering his Sk8r boy days?!
Skimboard Elizabeth
Elizabeth tried it too! No surf board proof but yey for skim board shots!
Skimboard Alex rides
Alex, getting over the fall and riding the board home
Skimboard Gera
Skimming is fun!

Craig got a toe battle wound which proves he did try. I dunno if E’s big bad bruise was from skimming or surfing. Patrycja ended up with a gash. I guess everybody had some battle wounds somewhere. But we didn’t really mind. (until all adrenaline was gone, reality kicked in, and every inch of our body hurt!)

After a bit more sun and the final, final dip, we had to convince ourselves to leave our temporary paradise. The weekend escape did come to an end but the fun we had, the memories we made, and the new friends we met will [hopefully] sustain us through the next one.

Banana Cue Bonding

So yeah, cheers to a freaking CS Weekend Escape of surfing at Zambales! Get ready for the next CS Weekend Escape, soon!

(Oops, conveniently forgot to give photo credits! Most of the photos used here are not mine. Thanks to Ciel, Kapil, Alex and Anthony for the shots I shamelessly downloaded from their Facebook accounts. Peace and love, people!)

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