Monday, February 15, 2016

Dinadiawan and Baler, Aurora - January 15-18, 2015 - Part 2 (Super Late Post)

Dinadiawan and Baler, Aurora - January 15-18, 2015 - Part 1 (Super Late Post)

Hello there! It's been so long since I last wrote a post here. I have been caught up with a lot of different things such as out of town trips, change of work and a series of basketball games. I have been longing to write posts here since there has been many things I wanted to share, but I wasn't able to find time to do so. Right now, the urge to write is just too strong I couldn't resist. So I'm grabbing my to-write-list, my notes and I felt like having this as my first entry for 2016.

January 14, 2015. Yeah, the year is right. It has been a year and a month to be more precise. It was a Wednesday and there was declared a holiday starting the next day up until the 19th which is a Monday, because of the Paypal Visit. That is a total of 5 day long weekend. So Judy, my girlfriend and I decided to go out of town. It was unconventional of her to give a go, given that she is so religious and active in church. But we were on the same page thinking that we should grab the opportunity. So this would be our very first out of town trip with Getzy. This would also be my first long drive ever.

We've planned on this trip for quite some time already, so we are really prepared. We reserved a place to stay in Dinadiawan. We choose Dinadiawan, thinking that Baler would be swamped by tourists due to the long holiday and also for our love of exploring places we've never heard of. Given also the promise of Boracay sand of the North in some of the advertisements we've read. Why not eh? We stacked Getzy compartment with food. We have sandwiches, chips, canned goods, candies, different drinks, etc. We decided to leave at around 10 in the evening. Because we have read from a blog that it is best to reach Aurora during the sunrise. I tried to nap from around 6 pm up until 10 pm but due to the excitement, I barely did. However, I still felt well enough to drive. After all, it was all planned up and there is no turning back.

A selfie just before we leave
First, we gas up at Shell in Mindanao Avenue near St. James. There I also recorded my current odometer reading to keep track of the distance and be fuel consumption of Getzy. I also had last minute checks on Getzy. I learned from my brother-in-law this acronym: BLOW BAG which stands for Batteries, Lights, Oil, Water, Brakes, Air, Gas. Keep in mind to check on these before going on a trip, better do it also from time to time.

So that's it, we went on our trip. It would be my first ever long drive and my first time to drive in NLEX. Although before this, I had a number of trips in SLEX, since my girlfriend lives in ParaƱaque and we also had a couple of visits in Cavite. Anywho, thanks to Waze for leading our way towards our destination. I don't know if we will be able to reach our destination if it we don't have Waze. According to Waze and the blogs that we read beforehand, there are two possible routes to reach Baler and Dinadiawan, one is through, Pantabangan which is the longer but route and another is through Bongabon shorter but with unpaved roads and full of curves. We choose Pantabangan as our route going there.

Unfortunately, while we were somewhere in the middle of NLEX, Waze asked us to exit the highway and reenter at the next entrance due to traffic building up ahead us. But we were hard headed and pursued traversing NLEX only to find out that there is really a heavy traffic due to an accident. The traffic took us more than an hour, if I remember it right. Lesson learned the hard way. But it was a blessing in disguise as we grab the opportunity to stuff our tummies. After NLEX, SCTEx had been a breeze.

Toll Fees Alert (Rates as of the said date of travel)
Mindanao Avenue to NLEX - 45 php
Mindanao Avenue Toll Plaza to SCTEx  Exit - 173 php
SCTEx to Tarlac Exit - 104 php

After SCTEx, I then filled up Getzy. Based from my odometer reading, we traveled 180 km and consumed 12.91 liters of gas, which sums up to about 13.947 km/l. Not bad I think, considering the heavy traffic we had in NLEX. We continued driving through Tarlac going to Pantabangan and it was near sunrise already, the road was not that bad, although there were some unpaved roads.

We arrive in the Baler area at around 7 am. At first we thought of passing by Baler for a while, but we were too tired to do so, as we drove in the past 9 or so hours already. So we went on directly to the resort, we rented in Dinadiawan. One funny moment, suddenly Waze, informed us that we have arrived at our destination. But there was nothing in that place where we were. There was no houses, not even a visible view of the beach area. There were just forest on both sides. We also couldn't find any people around. A typical setting of "The Hills Have Eyes" or "Wrong Turn". Ahaha... Good thing that the road was really nice, so we just decided to continue driving. After a few minutes we found a few people and we ask where our resort is. They were so amazed of Getzy, that they seem not to focus on our question so they just told us that it is a few minutes away. It seems that they have not seen one in their entire life, so we just continued driving. After a while, we then saw a view of the sea and then later on a little town with a few people, so we again asked where the resort is. Again, they said it was a few minutes away, and again they were so amazed of Getzy. I don't know if they are just happy people, but they keep on smiling while looking at Getzy and seeming to like to touch the car. Well, after a "few more minutes" of driving (around 2 hours of drive from the first person we asked), we then saw about 3 or four resorts which are a few blocks from each other. Finally, we then arrived at the resort that we reserved. If I remember it right, it was past 9 am already.

A glimpse of goodness

I wouldn't name the resort, so as not to be unfair to the owner, because we did not pursue with our reservation. The place was really nice. It was spacious, the sand was powdery white and I wouldn't argue that you couldn't compare it to that of Boracay's. However, the beach doesn't seem to be swim-able as the waves were so strong. The care taker informed us that during that season the wind is strong so the waves were strong. But what made us think twice on the place is that, there were no other tourist aside from us, unlike the ones that we see along the way. Which has a few guests. We asked, if there would be other tourist arriving and they told us the in the next day there would be. We were really hesitant about the place and Judy really didn't want to be alone. So Judy and I told the caretakers that we will just visit the market, which is a little more further, to buy some stuff, but at the back of our heads, we are thinking of finding a better place to stay.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Misadventure #2 - Please Don't Touch My Getzy

August 23, 2014. My girlfriend and I are celebrating our 4 years and 9 months today. We were planning to spend the rest of the day like the usual. It's a Saturday, so I was supposed to have a basketball game and she is supposed to come with me. But today was different.

My father just got home last night from Saudi, for the 1st death anniversary of my grandfather tomorrow. They called me this morning to go swim with them in a nearby resort.

We waited for my elder sister as she was on her way home. It was the first time she'll meet Getzy formally.

_nicoleness photography

We then went to the resort where our dad and our siblings were. We had lunch there. The food was great. Afterwards, we went swimming. My girlfriend couldn't take a dip, so she became the official photographer.

kuyajudy photography
grabbed from _nicoleness

It was a great day nonetheless. We decided to leave the resort at 5pm. We were planning to drop by the cemetery to visit our grandfather. But on our way out, traffic was stalled due to a truck that flipped on its side hours ago.

So we decided to take another route going home. While pushing through the slow traffic, Getzy was on a full stop when a motorcycle bumped into her right tire and bumper. Fortunately, Getzy was not hurt that much. She just had a few light scratches.

What made me lose my temper was that the motorcycle driver doesn't seem to be concerned in any way. He was actually about to hit and run without even saying sorry, had I not stepped out of the car immediately. My elder sister also stepped out and took a picture of the motor vehicle's plate number.

There was no traffic enforcer around that's why I asked for the motorcycle driver's license so we could report him. But he refused to show it to us. I got really angry, as I was thinking that he doesn't have any. Later on, my sister convinced the guy to show it to us, and took a photo of it. I opt not to show the image of the motorcycle's plate number and the driver's license in this blog.

I admit, I was too angry that time. But that's because I really hate people like him. They don't care much about the things they do wrong, and worse, they are not sincere when asking for apology.

Good thing that my elder sister was there, and she really handled the situation well. I guess she's right that I need to be a lot nicer next time because those are the things that could not be prevented. And that there are a lot of worse drivers out there.

Oh well, I guess I couldn't prevent Getzy from getting hurt. The least I could is to be careful and cautious every time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adventure #1.1 - Parking Safety

(Part 2 of Adventure #1: Getzy is Mine)

After 'getting' Getzy, my girlfriend and I felt the need to eat, so we headed to one of my most favorite restaurants located at the Pioneer Center, Tokyu. It's one of the most affordable Japanese restaurants that serves legit tuna sashimi.

Of course, I need to park Getzy, but I was worried that the available parking slot is too far from the restaurant. I wouldn't be able to see her as we eat. As we walk away from Getzy, I felt nervous and a bit doubtful if I was able to lock the doors, would the alarm work, or did I accidentally click unlock, or did I leave the lights on? And above everything else, would Getzy be fine there?!

I had to set all those thoughts aside because we also have needs. So we had to eat at the expense of leaving Getzy at the parking lot.

I guess this is something we should learn to accept. We should be able to trust ourselves and our beloved cars. They'll be fine at the parking lot as long as were able to check the following things:

1) Turn off the headlights and all other electrical components, including the dome light. Leaving them might discharge the batteries and you'll end up having trouble starting the car. I stated all just to make sure but of course not all electrical components use electricity when the engine is turned off.

2) Make sure you put on the hand breaks, This is to prevent the car from moving unintentionally. Additional security that could be done is by placing your gear opposite the drive way or the low end of the slope with the low end of the slope taking the higher priority.

Say you parked facing the driveway, you have to set your gears in reverse. If the driveway is behind your car, you should set the gear to first gear. If you parked on a slope facing down, set the gear to reverse and set it to first gear when facing up. It also adds additional safety to turn your wheels facing the gutter if you are parking in a slope parallel to a walkway or a gutter. So that when the car moves, say during an earthquake, the car would be stopped by the gutter from further moving, lessening the cause of damage to the car.

Some people even place a big rock or block against the tires. This is okay, as long as you remember to remove it before you leave the parking space and make sure that the thing you are going to stuck there does not have pointed corners which might damage your tires.

3) Remember to set the alarm (if applicable). Double-check all the doors including the trunk. You'll never know, maybe one of the door knobs is left unlocked or broken. Do not lock your car unless you have your keys with you. Don't play with the remote as you leave the parking lot, if you could, do not place it yet to your bag or your pocket until you've reached enough distance from the car. You might accidentally press the unlock and not notice it.

4. Check your car when you can. Especially if you are parking at an open area where there is no security. It wouldn't hurt that much to do it, as they say, "prevention is better than cure."

Parked Getzy for the first time!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Adventure #1 - Getzy is Mine!

August 13, 2014. It was a busy day for me. There were so many defects that I had to fix in the application that we have created for our client.

Oh, by the way, I am a Software Engineer. We create websites and other applications using Java platform. I work at a business district about 6-7km away from my home. And on this day, I chose to commute to work because it was planned that I'll be bringing home my newly purchased car, Getzy.

I took the public transpo early in the morning, and that was the longest 6-7kms I've traveled ever. Well, at least ever since I started driving going to office.

My emotions were mixed-up the whole day: the stress I felt during my commute; the thought that the number of defects our team was fixing are endless; the excitement that I'm about to get my first car; the fear that I might not be able to handle it as I was only able to drive only four cars in my entire life, and so much other more things. I was even thinking about my teammates that we've been teasing to date each other.

At 3pm, I left our office with all of those emotions. I'm off to Mandaluyong to meet the husband of my girlfriend's boss, who owns the car.

Unfortunately, MRT, as usual, had technical problems. And so, again, that was the longest time it took me to go there, at least ever since I started driving to go wherever.

Luckily, I got there just in time. Few minutes later, the car seller arrived. We talked for a while, and even had photo ops by the mural at my girlfriend's office. He handed me the keys and the contract, and I sent him the money online.

We stayed there up until my girlfriend and her boss is ready to go home, probably around an hour. The only problem is that I was already hungry that time. A good thing though, her officemates were funny.

And so, it finally came down to the wire. We went to the parking, accompanied by my girlfriend's boss and her husband to take us to Getzy. We took some photos, and left us some final reminders.

My girlfriend and I stayed at the parking for a few more minutes in awe. This is in spite the fact that we were both hungry. We put on our seat belts, I started the engine, played with the clutch and the stick shift a little bit to feel the car, stepped on the gas while on neutral, then we checked the lights, the doors and even the papers of the car. Although of course we were able to check all of those before we bought the car.

It's a funny thing though that we had trouble turning the air-con on. At first it was blowing warm air. Fortunately we were able to figure things out before we were fried in our own sweat. Of course, we didn't forget to take the obligatory selfies inside the car.

Finally, we decided to go. I stepped on the clutch and the brakes, placed the stick to the first gear, released the handbrake then the brakes and slowly releasing the clutch while stepping on the gas. After the side mirrors of Getzy exceeded the car parked beside us, I slowly turned the wheel. Yatta! We were on the streets, and the next thing we know, we were on the road.

I must say, Getzy is in great shape. It looks good both inside and out. Although it has a few light scratches, but of course that's normal. The engine sounds good as well. Thanks to the previous owner for taking good care of it.

It really felt good driving my first car.

First photo inside Getzy

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adventure #2 - A Guide to Car Registration

Car registration is one thing that every car owner should give importance. Wikipedia says, the purpose of car registration is to establish clear ownership and to tax motorist or vehicle owners. Basically, it is the same as paying property tax for your house yearly.

When you buy a brand new car, most likely it is pre-registered for three years. Afterwards, you have to renew your registration yearly. I don't know if the 3-year pre-reg is a standard for brand new cars, but when I used to browse online for cars for sale, I always see that it is always part of the inclusions.

For new car owners, do you know how to determine when should you renew your car registration? Here in the Philippines, you can see it by looking at the last two digits of your car's plate number. The last digit corresponds to the month, while the second digit corresponds to the week you are scheduled.

For example, your plate number is ABC-123. You have to register on March because it's the 3rd month. If it ends with 0, you have to register on October.

To know which week of March you should go, take note of this:
1, 2, or 3 - 1st week
4, 5, or 6 - 2nd week
7or 8 - 3rd week
9 or 0 - 4th week

Therefore, based on the plate number above, you should register on the first week of March.

I also read online that you can renew your registration as early as one month ahead of your actual schedule. If you are always busy, however, you can still register after your schedule but you need to pay for late charges. Just don't let a year pass without registering because you still need to pay for the car's registration for the year you missed. So make sure to be have your car registered on schedule to avoid the hassle and the penalties.

Now that I have Getzy, I need to renew her registration. Here's the requirements for your reference:

First, bring original copies of Certificate of Registration (CR) and it's previous Official Receipt (OR). If you just bought a car, make sure to check these two documents and keep them in a safe place. If you are just applying for renewal, photocopies of the CR and OR will do.

Second, you need to pass an LTO accredited emission test center. My brother-in-law accompanied me to a test center along Mindanao Avenue for Getzy's emission testing. It cost us around Php450.

After the testing, we went to their auto shop to get Getzy's stencil. This step is part of the car registration form.

Finally, we had Getzy registered at LTO. It cost me Php 3800, for a total of Php4250. Thank God we didn't encounter any problems securing her registration. :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Misadventure #1: Blurry Windshields

August 14, 2014. I was excited to ride Getzy on my way home. It rained earlier, so Getzy is soaking wet. I turned on the wiper to remove water from the windshield. Unfortunately, it the water doesn't seem to get off. So I grabbed a piece of cloth, wiped the windshield, and it got better. I also wiped the wiper blades, thinking it could just be dirty.

As I left the parking, it rained. Just enough to make Getzy's windshield wet again. I tried using the wiper, and it just made it worse. It forced me to stop by in a nearby gas station because the windshield was so blurry that I couldn't see anything anymore. I asked a gasoline boy to clean it and gave him a tip. Luckily, the rain did not continue so I was able to go home safely. It also did not rain the following day so I was safe.

I researched online on why it happened on Getzy. Here are some of the things that I found out:
1. The windshield itself is dirty. Chemicals from everyday use already formed build-ups that could not be wash away by water.
2. The wiper blades are dirty.
3. The wiper blades are already worn out.
4. The inside part of the windshield dirty.

Here now are the solutions that I've found:
1. Wash the windshield with mild soap and/or use a chemical which can be found in the market that is specifically formulated to clean the windshield.
2. Clean the wiper blades.
3. Replace the wiper blades.
4. Clean the windshield from the inside of the car.

On the third day, I decided to wash the windshield with soap, in the absence of specifically formulated chemicals. I was thinking that it could solve the problem as I had to bring Getzy to a long drive and it could rain.

I also tried washing the wiper blades. But is seems that the rubber in the wiper blades are already deteriorating. No matter how much I wipe it, there were still black marks left in the cloth. So I just tried my best effort to remove the dirt from the wiper blades.

After cleaning the windshield and the wiper blades, I tried using the wiper to remove the excess water. To my amusement and dismay, Getzy's windshield was still blurry. It seems that the wipers were not able to serve its purpose. That's when I finally decided to go to an auto shop and buy a new set of wiper blades.

I got the wiper blades at around Php 260 for the 14" blade; and Php 320 for the 22" blade. I replaced them as soon as I got back to the car. When I tried it on, they worked really well.

And as if I knew it would happen, rain poured later that day as I was driving with my friends from a wedding we attended in Cavite.

I guess that's one of the things I've learned from scouting: to be prepared always.

Here are Getzy's last words for this post:

"Goodbye, blurry windshields! Hello, happier and safer adventures!"