June 28, 2015

The Real Deal

Let's talk Real.

People may doubt the existence of a place that would rival those at least an hour's flight away. When we think of beautiful scenic beaches, we imagine having to drive for hours or booking a ticket but let me tell you a secret: Anyone who loves the beach and who loves getting away as much as I do, would know of the hidden gem, that’s only a 3 hour drive from Manila -- that's right. We're talking about Real, Quezon.

Amidst the lush greenery and the cascading roads of Rizal are quiet little secret spots for the tiny adventurer in you and me. It wasn't my first time. I had gone there a couple of times but I never spent the night. One - it's roughly a 2 and a half hour drive so it's fairly near and convenient for a day trip. And two -- there aren't a lot of decent accommodations (Well, according to my standards). After kidding around with a couple of friends, what started as an idea pushed into one of the best spontaneous trips I had ever gone to. 

In Real, the most popular go-to place is the Pacific Recreation Kamp (The Park). It's an open space with a few Nipa huts and common grilling areas and bathrooms. It's private, fenced, and completely secure. It's the perfect option for the first-time camper: A cross between roughing it and the slight comforts of most resorts. Though it was not my first time camping, ever, we got by easily even though mostly unprepared. The market is just five minutes away and if you have a great cook in your group like we did, you're all set. 

I used to come here mainly for the surf. It's convenient for the rookie surfer: Budget friendly, accessible, and friendly waves. From The Park, a few hundred meters on foot, crossing the river mouth would lead you to a surf spot along Magra Surf Resort. The time that we arrived, there were perfect baby waves to play around in. 

But what I really want to talk about is the 2 hours dedicated to the exploration of the Balagbag Falls, 8th on my list. The drive itself was a treat. It was a 20 min journey with a refreshing view of the Quezon coastline. The trek to the falls was a short mossy 3 minutes. Upon arriving, I noticed the landing (excuse me for the construction term) between the two drops. I immediately assumed the possibility of climbing up and I did. And upon reaching the second level, I witnessed two brave souls who jumped. Oh my god. My heart pounded like crazy. I was to make the decision between saving my ass and being labeled as the sole pussy in the group. Let me just tell you that I have an intense fear of heights, plus the fact that jumping would mean being as close as you can to the foot of the falls and there's the extra risk of drowning to life. It was one of the hardest decisions I had ever had to make but after noticing that people were getting impatient, I just did it. 

Lesson learned: There's no better feeling that conquering your fears.