May 09, 2006
UPDATE 11/6/13: Check out the latest blog post on Balesin Island Club developed by Alphaland:
BALESIN ISLAND (ALPHALAND): Food Tripping Around the World in 7 Beach Resort Paradise!
This shot was taken 7 hours away (4 hours by land + 3 hours by boat) from Manila. The travel could be as short as 30 minutes by a chartered plane (imagine how expensive that would be). This was in the remote island of Balesin in Pollilio, Quezon Province and my Balesin series will give you a glimpse of this beach island paradise in the East.
The land trip was a 180kms, 4 hours drive from Manila to the Atimonan port. It sounds easy if you know or have been traveling to Bicol because this is 1/3 of the way to Bicol. You travel via South Super Hi-way --> Sto. Tomas, Batangas --> Alaminos, Laguna --> San Pablo, Laguna --> Tiaong, Quezon --> Candelaria, Quezon --> Sariaya, Quezon --> Lucena, Quezon, --> Pagbilao, Quezon --> then finally arriving at Atimonan, Quezon before Gumaca. (whew! that was long) All I can say is that follow the road signs going to Bicol so that you don't get lost in one of the fork roads. If you have been to the Viaje del Sol destinations then you are just 1/2 of the way to Atimonan. In the Balesin Brochures, it would say that this is 3 hours away ( they forgot to put "at night" ) but if you leave manila at 6am, I would guarantee you, it would take you 4 hours at least.
Parking Fee -- P10
Entrance Fee -- P10
Terminal Fee -- P3
53 hours parking -- P125
Total: P143 pesos
I suggest that you bring a car cover to protect your car from the heat and as a deterrent for people who might be tempted to steal your car's contents. Although they say that the port has 24 hours operation so ensure that it is in front of the port office.
I just came from El Nido the week before (this will be a topic in a different series), so the sight of this boat was horrible. But it was huge and able to accommodate 30+ people plus luggages. It was safe and it looked sturdy enough for the 3 hours boat ride.
In El Nido, there is a culture of safety first where you always need to wear a life jacket (which are nice life jackets). Upon seeing these life jackets, I guess they are just conforming to the law to have them in the boat. Not sure though if they are reusable. They didn't even bothered to have us wear those life jackets. Maybe they knew that it would just be a waste of time distributing it since it would not be as useful as its purpose to save lives of the passengers. During our boat trips, I vowed that we will buy our own life jackets to bring with us when we are traveling via sea. Better safe than sorry specially for us who have kids towed and travels a lot locally in the Philippines.
This was the front of the boat and we joined the management group of Safeway who went to Balesin for their teambuilding. You can only see the horizon in front of you after 3 hours of sea travel! Ok, the travel could be shorten to two hours and 30 minutes if you leave early in the port before 12nn. At this point, all of us were wondering where is Balesin? You can only see a glimpse of the white strip in the horizon. We were excited and anxious to arrive in Balesin.
Since it was low tide, we transferred to a smaller banca before finally touching the white sand beach of Balesin! Another comparison between El Nido, this banca was pathetic, but what can you expect. If you can see from the Photo, the Balesin resort does not have any assuming structure or dominating facade. It is just plain simple which is also what I like about this place.
There is no globe or smart signal on the island which means there is no cell site. The only phone working is a 5110 with a Smart sim located inside the structure above connected to an external antenna. You can see the antenna protruding on top of the structure.
It was an old electric fan powered room with wood flooring and old fashioned jalousies with screens. Imagine this, rats playing on top of the roof while resting, birds chirping outside, and insects flying around any light that they could see. Do I need to say more? One good thing though was that the beds smelled and looked clean and an excellente' room and towel service!! No complaints on that area.
The room has windows all around such that the winds pass through the room and give you that cool sleepy effect. Every time we stayed in the room, either we are taking a bath or sleeping :) One problem though was that at night, people can see you inside so you had to bring down the roman shades to give you privacy but blocks the cool wind. Overall, the room was very comfortable and functional specially the toilets. I wonder why!...