Archive for May, 2011

Exploring Mindoro Oriental

February 21, 2011

Well, parts of Mindoro Oriental.  ;)

I wanted to go to Tamaraw Falls. We’ll hang out in White Beach afterwards plus there would be some events later in the day there. Tricycle and motorbikes from Sabang were quoted to us for 600-800php to get to Tamaraw falls and back. Too pricey! To get to the falls without it being too heavy on the pocket, we’d get on a jeep for Puerto Galera town. Still, they really tried to persuade us to get on a motorbike instead. Told you they’re pushy. Anyways, we asked other locals about how to get there. A jeep bound for town leaves every 30minutes whether or not it’s full (20php), it’s mandated. From there, we have to catch a jeep for Calapan. It will pass by the falls (35php) which is just by the main road.

Our half-filled jeepney

In town, our first agenda was to look for an ATM so that my friend can withdraw some cash. There’s an Allied bank as well as Western Union but she had some problem with her (international) card. It’s alright, we’ll survive for the day. Next up, lunch or in our case, brunch. Walking around, we came upon another port. I was told that this is the actual Puerto Galera port. There were a number of pubs lining the area. We went to this one place with free wifi. hehe We ordered nilagang baka but it was too sour (sinagang?) and the meat was hard to chew.  :( The servers there confirmed that we can just take a jeepney for Calapan, no problem with that but that we might have some troubles getting  back coz according to them, the jeepneys depart only when full. It was fine with us, we have no problem with doing top load. This they found hard to believe. hehe

Downtown Puerto Galera

From Puerto Galera town, 14kms to go!

The ride took us through the mountains. Also, there was an ongoing road construction that was why traffic had to be controlled. After around a 30minute ride, we got to our destination.

Ongoing road construction

I first saw a number of vehicles parked by the roadside then I had my first glimpse of the falls. The fact that it’s a series of small falls merging into one pool was a sight I liked looking at. Of course we wanted to get closer to it. At the other side of the road is the entrance to falls. There is an entrance fee of 20php for adults and 10php for kids. There are two pools you can bathe in with the water coming from the falls. There’s no direct path to get nearer to the falls so you’ll have to climb the rocks to make your way towards it. The water’s refreshingly cool too. While we were there, turns out that almost everyone knew each other since it was a company outing. Their guide wouldn’t believe that it was just us 2 girls. Come on people! hehe

Tamaraw Falls

Beautiful cascade :)

Refreshingly cool waters :)

We’re lucky we didn’t have to wait long for a ride back to town. An almost empty jeepney bound for town passed by so we got in it. He didn’t drop us off town though, some distance after it (heading towards White Beach) since he was on his way home. We had to pay a bit more though (40php). Then we got on a tricycle that took us to our next destination (20php/pax)

En route to White Beach

It felt too hot to be in White Beach. We were going to lounge by the shore but decided against it. We had snacks first. Then waited for it to cool down a bit. When it felt that we can bear the heat, we took a spot and settled in then we fell asleep. :) We decided to hang around because there were live bands that night. Not long into the other bands’ performances, unfortunately, it started to rain. It was light at first but quickly became a downpour. We wanted to go back to Sabang (home) but the tricycle drivers were exploiting our situation and wouldn’t agree to anything less than 400php. There was this one tricycle driver who wanted to help us out but then, the first we talked to came up to him and told him that there’s a queue they have to observe. They wouldn’t let him drive us to Sabang but then they wouldn’t agree to our price (150-200php). Since the rain’s pouring really hard now, we got in the kind driver’s tricycle. We’ll try to wait it out since the other sheds were filled with people. Kuya Jaime (0908 2045252) just got settled in the island less than 4months back. He used to live in Fairview. He wanted to help us out but there were rules to observe. He came up with a plan though. He’d get a few passengers by the White Beach (they won’t object to drivers fetching their contact passengers) then he’d pick us up along the way. To which we readily agreed since there was even a black out! We got out of the tricycle. Went to a sort of shed. Waited for his go signal. Then started walking. It was fine with me until Len had to bring to my attention that it was very scary to walk in complete darkness (while it’s also raining). She said we should walk slowly so we won’t get too far away from the other people. Len! I scare so easily! Don’t say stuff like that! haha Luckily, we didnt have to wait long. We had to squeeze ourselves (4 pax) into the backride though, . hehe There was just one glitch in this, the passengers he picked up was headed towards the direction of Calapan when we had to make a turn to Sabang. So back in town, he  talked to a friend of his and asked him to get us to Sabang. He told the other guy that we’re his cousins and to please take care of us. Aww, thank you Kuya! He asked for only half of the agreed upon amount (200php) and gave the other half to the other guy. :)

White Beach

Dinner!

Free wifi ;)

Once in Sabang, the rain had stopped falling and there’s electricity. Woot! We decided to check out the local scene. There were a number of discos in the area but it’s more of a PG-rated stuff if you know what I mean. There was this one club, The Venue, that had live bands with a dance floor (50php entrance fee) so we chose to go there. We went in totally wet. Went to the toilet and came out looking fresh in dry clothes! :D We brought a change of clothes for White Beach but we weren’t able to change into them. Had a fun and relaxed night of watching, listening, dancing and singing along with the band. We even got free drinks!

Related Post:

Sunny Puerto Galera

Bacolod Food Feast (day 1)

January 14, 2011

Whilst everyone was flying to Cebu for the Sinulog Festival, I along with 2 of my closest girl buds flew to stay overnight in the city of Bacolod for some food tripping. Mmmm!

I was able to book really cheap tickets a few months before. Our roundtrip airfare costs 550php and that’s for the 3 of us! To maximize our stay there, I booked the first flight out and the last one in. We were tempted to travel to Cebu for the Sinulog but the thought of spending 6hours to travel from Bacolod to Cebu made us decide against it. And since we were flying into Bacolod, might as well enjoy what the province has to offer. ;)

We got to the airport at quarter to 4am and our breakfast was at the 7-11 store inside the airport. When we got to our gate, the other passengers had already started boarding the plane that was why when we got inside, there was almost no space for our bags in the overhead compartment, well, almost ;)

Negros Occidental’s Silay Airport is new and looked nice. To get to our hotel by not spending much, we first rode a tricycle parked just outside the airport’s premises. If we’d opt to wait for other passengers to reach 6pax, that means we’d only have to shell out 10php each. However, we got a special trip so that’s 60php for us 3. We were dropped off at the main road  wherein we rode a minibus bound for Bacolod, bus fare costs 13php each.

New Bacolod Silay Airport

Getting out of the airport

Tricycles waiting in line

First in our agenda was to check in to our hotel. We stayed at Luxur Place. I wanted to stay at The Suites at Calle Nueva but the former’s pool swayed the majority into its favor. Wifi’s provided for; rooms were quite spacious and their housekeeping’s efficient. Turns out that Luxur Place used to be the convention center in the area but almost half of the place is being rented out to a call center. That was why there were people almost always hanging out by the pool, smoking. And there’s no direct jeepney route to get to the area. :( If you’re heading down to Bacolod,  the most convenient place to be is at Lacson Street. It’s being developed for tourists because this is where their famous restaurants are located as well as where you’ll find  landmarks like their Capitol. After settling in and getting refreshed, it was time to head out. :D

I love sweets! Since Calea is famous for their sweets, this is the perfect place for me to visit! The place is located along the corner of Lacson and 14th St. If  you can’t choose since they all look so good, just ask for their best seller. ;)

Ice cream chocolate cake!

Mmmm!

After satisfying my sweet tooth, the next in the agenda was where to eat proper lunch. hehehe We want some chicken inasal and the place to have it is at Manokan Country which is near SM. But since we’re still full, we decided to walk to get there. Not a bad choice really since we did pass by several landmarks like the city’s Capitol, Cathedral and a museum. Gave us enough time to digest our food. :)

Children running around by the Capitol

With travel buddy, Irene...

...and Abby :)

The Cathedral

It was too hot to walk all the way since we weren’t using any umbrella. We decided to ride a multicab for the last stretch to get to Manokan Country. Probably a hundred meters ride. hehe Manokan Country reminds me of Dampa though you wouldn’t be buying your chicken live. It’s just that there were many eateries selling the same kind of good food side by side and at an affordable price at that (it can cost anywhere from 20-65php). Also, they serve oysters for 30-40php per plate! Nice!

Since it was already late in the afternoon, we went back to our hotel. But passed by SM to buy some drinks and snacks (fruits) to munch on. When we got back to our room, we took a nap. But our nap turned into a sleep for several hours. I was woken up by the sound of the rain pounding our window. I figured, we wouldn’t go out at such a weather and went back to bed. We were planning on going to Mambukal for some spa. They woke up at different hours too. We did get out of room though but only because we were hungry. We bought some foods and ate it by the pool. It would have been a very good place to hang out save for the other people loitering there with cigarettes on hand. Well, we’d just wake up early to compensate for tonight. ;)

Sunny Puerto Galera (day 1)

May 20, 2011

Destination: Puerto Galera

When people say Puerto Galera, they also meant to include Sabang and White Beach, both of which are different albeit smaller towns.

La Laguna Beach

Me and a good friend, Len, went there for a weekend.This is my first trip to this popular municipality in Oriental Mindoro Island. This fact usually surprises my friends who know how much I love to travel since Puerto Galera is pretty accessible from Metro Manila. It took 4 hours to get there from my home. We didn’t make any plans. And we sent only 1 sms to each other the night before, meet up in Batangas pier at 10am. Got that. I’m good to go. ;)

I had 10pm-6am shift at the hospital so as soon as i got home, I had to finish packing, grab a bite or two then head out. Instead of joining my friend in Buendia, I headed to Alabang because I do not want to backtrack. In Alabang, there’s one big terminal for buses and jeepneys. Just ask around for a bus heading to Batangas Pier, don’t forget to ask for the (one-stop) express bus, fare is 137php. Travel time is about an hour and a half.  I’ve been to other ports and piers in the country and it was either small, unorganized or looked old that was why I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s a big, well maintained, organized place. I got to the pier first so to while away the time (and since I was hungry too), I went to a small store and got some chips. When Len got there, we proceeded inside to get our tickets.

Inside Batangas Pier

There are 3 main destination for Puerto Galera: White Beach, the most popular choice; Calapan, the capital city of Oriental Mindoro; and Sabang, a diving destination. She asked me where I wanted to go, I said, anywhere. To help me choose, she quoted room prices. A typical room in White beach would cost anywhere between 1000-1500php while it’s around 600-800php in Sabang. Sabang won. hehehe Tickets for Sabang is 230php/pax and then you have to pay for terminal fee (30php), conservation fee (30php) and environmental fee (50php). Once inside, there weren’t that many passengers (it’s a Friday and it was almost lunchtime). We were told outside that our boat’s about to leave so finding the doors closed wasn’t gonna deter us since we saw our shipping line’s boat was already filled with passengers. We got the attention of one of the guys working there and he let us out then they escorted us to our boat. We could have been left behind if we just sat there (since they weren’t giving last call or whatever)! The boat set sail after we settled in. Travel time was about an hour.

Sailing for Sabang

Even if it was my first trip there, that wasn’t the case for Len so she was sort of my guide. We stayed at Red Coast. Owned and managed by an expat and his wife, George and Helen, we got a beachfront fan room with kitchen for 650php/night. If we’d opt to use the aircon, then it will cost us 800php/night. It’s not perfect but it will do and come on, it’s cheap. And we have yet to haggle at that.  ;)

Red Coast

Our 650php/night room

View from our place

After some unpacking, we walked around the area. We went to La Laguna Beach, some 15-20minutes walk from our place. On the way there, the view brought to mind Santorini since the hostels/ hotels built on the mountainside were whitewashed too. It was a bit crowded in Sabang so La Laguna was a welcome sight. We had our late lunch at Kaye ‘n’ Em’s. We had chicken curry with rice and mango shake (360php). Mmmm! We stayed here for an hour or two. We went back “home” to get some rest, I have yet to sleep on a bed for two days now (tsk tsk tsk). After Manila’s sweltering heat, Puerto Galera’s sunny but not hot weather felt so good! :D

Sabang :)

There were many colorful flowers in the island :)

Lunch with a view :)

Your ride to get to the floating bars

Many boats for the divers

Finally getting some sleep (even if it was only for a couple of hours), I’m ready to go out now. That is after I wake my friend up too. ;) I wanted to check out the scene at White Beach. To get there one has to either ride a tricycle, a motorbike or a jeep (last option available only during daytime). When we got to the main rode, we were swarmed by guys offering their services for us. It would have been alright but there was this one very pushy guy. We told him to back off coz we’ll think about their offer. But he followed us around even when we left the main road. That was why we took another’s offer even if it were for the same price (150php for 2pax, one way). Then he got upset about it and wanted to quarrel with us as to why we chose another over him since he offered first and they’re the same price. We told him our reason and left.  Many locals doing business there were too pushy. Didn’t want it to ruin our night. It took around 20 minutes for us to get to White Beach. Our driver, Kuya Oliver, gave us his number (0928 5963113) so we can send him an sms if we want to go back home.

After dinner where we drowned ourselves off a gallon of iced tea (we were thirsty haha), we tried to walk off the calories. White Beach was very different from Sabang. First off, there’s an actual beach (a long shore line anyways) hehe There were more people too (local tourists mostly) and the craziness that goes with it. I enjoyed watching the fire dancers. There were live bands too and a comedy show. If you want some dancing, you’ll be hard pressed to find one though. It felt like White Beach is for hanging out with a number of your buddies, the people that were there were almost always in at least a group of 4. We planned to go swimming that night but didn’t have the heart to actually do it. Didn’t want to get wet then get cold. I laid my sarong down on the sand and we lay there for a while until Kuya Oliver got there to fetch us. :)

Related Post:

Exploring Mindoro Oriental

Bangkok and Shopping!

February 19, 2011

If you’re a shopaholic, weekends in Bangkok could only mean one thing, Chatuchak weekend market! Since we only had three days there, we had to prioritize. Shopping is definitely in the list of things to do in this city! :D

Our hosts, JJ & Richard were working that day. The girls (Diana, Rahel, Ate Lea and I) along with Ali agreed to meet up in the morning to check Chatuchak’s weekend market out as well as two other malls. We first had breakfast somewhere in KSR. The others ordered a yoghurt meal and it looked so tasty. I got a banana pancake and it’s the worst order I’ve made yet! They gave me a pancake with a banana on the side. Seriously??? huhuhu

Tasty breakfast! Mine was too lousy, I didn't even take a shot hehe

We headed to Chatuchak after. We had to meet Ali at the station there first. Many minutes of waiting later, he finally found our meeting place. hehe The things is, there are about 3 stops that will get you to the weekend market: MRT station’s Suan Chatuchak (Chatuchak Park), BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line’s Mo Chit Station and MRT Bangkok Metro Blue Line’ s Kamphaengphet Station. We didn’t know that so us, girls, were waiting at Kamphaengphet Station while Ali went to Chatuchak Park Station. He must have walked for 15minutes (or more) to get to us. :)

Chatuchak Park Station :)

Touted as one of the world’s biggest weekend market, it has around 15,000 stalls that sells anything (from local souvenirs to fake shirts to delicious foods to endangered animals, we didn’t check this out but we did see live animals, and everything in between) over an area of 35 acres. The market operates between 9am and 6pm. It was overwhelming to see so many stalls. Where do you start? Well, try the first thing that catches your attention then take it from there. My hosts recommended for us to try their local version of ice cream. We started with that. It was already getting hot even if it was only around 10 in the morning. It was sooo good. I wanted to buy another serving! hehe After that refreshing start, we walked around stopping now and then at stalls that catches our fancy or at foods that look and smell so good as well as at performers playing on the busy street. We have a map of the market with us but it’s just hard to follow. ;)

Pictures taken at Chatuchak’s weekend market:

Thai ice cream :)

Rahel, you're not getting any? Are you sure??? :D

So pink! hehe

I love chopsticks!

Perfect as souvenirs

Street performers, they're good ;)

Looking for a dress

We had our lunch here before heading over to other malls. There were as many eateries to choose from. My cousin and the others had noodles. They said it was plain delicious! I had phat kraphao moo (stir-fried ground pork with Thai holy basil, chillies and garlic). It was definitely the spiciest I’ve ever eaten! I’m sure that underneath all that spice, the food was good too. Maybe. My tongue was numb from the chilies and I can feel it’s spiciness all the way down to my stomach. Ack!!! Milk and soda had no effect at all! Haha

The spiciest food I've tasted! Ever!

I wasn’t able to shop for much, just enough souvenir items to give to friends and workmates back home. Then it was time to move on to the other shopping areas. ;) We wanted to ride a tuktuk to go there but the drivers wouldn’t agree to our price. They’re quoting large numbers to us that we won’t agree to also. With that, we got on and squeezed ourselves into a cab. Our cab driver informed us that he can’t drop us off in front of our destination, Platinum Mall, because the Red Shirts were holding a rally near the area. The others became concerned for our safety. While me and another were convincing them that it was safe since Thailand is earning lots from tourism, the last thing they’d want to do is to scare the visitors away (I hope). Anyways, those who were rallying seemed to be a friendly lot. They were singing songs and inviting the others to join them.

Walking towards Platinum Mall

Red Shirt supporters

Located in Pratunam, Platinum Mall is a popular wholesale market that sells clothes and accessories. It was nice being inside it after hours under the heat in Chatuchak. But the heat had already taken its toll on my companions, they weren’t in the mood to shop. :( We were there for an hour and I only got to buy 3 shirts, a pair of shoes and earmuffs. I have an entire luggage waiting to be filled and I bought so few! When my hosts saw me later that night, they were asking me as to why I only bought few when they knew that I was so eager to shop. hehe

2nd stop, Plantinum Mall

Seeing my companions drooping, I suggested that we just skip the last mall (a welcome news haha) and to just head back to Khao San. Downtown Bangkok was just too hot and chaotic that day for us. To boost our energy, we’ll have a foot massage! We got ours for 150THB for 30minutes. Not that cheap (almost the same price as the others) but I think it’s well worth it ‘coz we had a wonderful time. It was a promotional rate of one of the nicer looking spas in the area.

All smiles. :)

Having tea after a wonderful foot massage :D

Happy faces ;)

Fully charged, we walked more, mostly beside the Chao Phraya River. We came upon Santichaiprakarn Park where many people were just chilling and where Phra Sumen Fort is located. The fort was constructed to protect the people from foreign naval invasions. Now, it’s one of two remaining towers of the historic city wall. It was also here where we heard the national anthem being played when the clock struck the hour of 6 in the evening. Everyone stopped what they were doing to stand in attention to show respect for the nation.

Bangkok sunset

Ali setting up his cam...

...to have our pictures taken :)

At the park

Sketching

Showing respect by standing up

Hungry, we headed to the first place we saw that served good food. Jessie met us here. We were just hanging out well into the night then went home. We were so tired my cousin and I fell asleep in the cab. :)

Dinner time! :D

With JJ :)

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

A Night in Khao San

February 18, 2011

Coming back from Kanchanaburi, our original plan was to have dinner and check out the infamous backpackers’ haven, Khao San. It’s so different from when we left it that morning. The place is just bursting with activities. So very busy. Pulsing with life. :)

A popular rice market some twenty years back, Khao San literally translates to milled rice. It has since then became a hub for backpackers wherein guesthouse to travel agencies as well as restaurants and shops abound.

Sawasdee ka!

I thought it would be nice to meet up with locals and other travelers while in Bangkok so I sort of organized a dinner-meet up that night. Our hosts suggested May Kai Dee, a vegetarian restaurant located behind the only Burger King in the area. We figured, it’s easy to find and going vegan is a safe bet. hehe The thing was that we have to let them know where to meet us up by posting it on the thread. Problem was, we have no internet access. Solution? Look for wifi hotspots! :D There were tons in the area but it’s either too slow it’s almost non existent or I’d be needing a password. We found a cafe with free wifi so I was able to post the details.

Getting comfy

Six people joined us for dinner: A Filipino on a backpacking tour; an Indonesian lady with a Russian guy she traveled with; a Swiss lass who had been traveling for weeks; a Kiwi guy who had just arrived from India;  and an Iranian guy with an American accent who’s currently living in Kuala Lumpur. ;)  Overall, a laid back bunch of very nice people. :)

*Many pictures hereon are courtesy of Ali. Thanks!

Hmmm... What are we gonna eat? :)

Pinoys, Richard & Dominic

Cousins. Travel buds. ♥

Bangkok buddies! :)

We were there for more than a couple of hours but it was still too early to call it a night. That was why it was time we went out into the streets. Rahel wasn’t feeling well so she went back to her hostel to get some rest.  Others were wanting beers but it was a Buddhist holiday so shops weren’t selling alcohol. Out in the open that is. They’re still willing to sell though it’d be in a bucket.  We found a nice spot to hang out. But I was still a little bit hungry so Dominic accompanied me while I happily munched on “normal” Thai foods. We got some for the others too. ;)

Spring rolls

Preparing my order

Delicious banana pancake! 20THB

Just like how we make visitors in the Philippines eat balut, our hosts thought making us eat fried bugs would complete our Thailand experience. Ugh! hehehe The thought of eating insects was a (little bit…. okay, maybe not that little) upsetting but you don’t really get to taste it because it had been deep fried so you’re just chewing on something crispy yet juicy. Eew! haha Others took it in stride but the fun was in watching others squirm while sampling a local delicacy. ;)

Bugs!

There was a signage that said you should pay 10THB for taking pictures. No one did.

First bite! :D

It's fun looking at everyone's reaction :D

More? Bring it on!

It's a grasshopper! ;)

Ali, our photographer, turned white at the idea of eating an insect. ;)

Drinking beer to wash away the bug taste. ;)

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

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