Archive for July, 2011

Rushing Surigao

June 25, 2011

Surigao City. When I think of the place, the only thing that comes to mind is Siargao. Then I remember that they’re not the same though they are both in Surigao del Norte.  It doesn’t ring a bell for me though I know it’s in Mindanao. That was why when a friend invited me to join him, I was excited to go because it meant another trip! However, I don’t know what to get psyched for. hehe I did some  “research” and came upon Tinuy-an falls, our country’s version of Niagara Falls! Then I found out that it’s 5-6 hours away by land travel from our destination. Bummer! Sam, another companion for this trip, told me she’d love to join if we’d swim with stingless jellyfish. What? Stingless? How cool is that?! A few more readings and tips from friends and I’m good to go. I hope.

Met up with the others at the airport. It was the height of Typhoon Falcon and most couldn’t believe that I’m flying  off at that kind of weather. I thought to myself, this is EXACTLY why I’m going on this trip, to escape this non stop downpour! ;)

Checking in at T3

We got there on time. We even had breakfast and Sam was shopping for some stuff. After the final check though, we were held up by the Gomez Family (popular actor & actress with their daughter in tow). I wanted to take a picture of them but I wanted my friends in it. It was kinda hard to convince those two. haha That was why we didn’t notice that we were being paged for, thrice already according to Chockie. It was when they announced the destination that we realized what was happening it. I was half running to get to our gate!

Oops! A blurry photo of Abby and Richard. Got too excited? haha

An hour and forty minutes later, we touched down in Surigao City’s airport. We had no fixed itinerary. I just know that 1) we’d be swimming with non sting jellyfish, 2) we’d be visiting a pebble beach, 3) eat by the pier’s many BBQ eateries and 4) visit a floating village. There were definitely lots of stuff to do there but we didn’t have the luxury of time (well, and money too) so we had to choose what to do.

Surigao Airport

Since it was lunchtime, we headed to the pier on Borromeo St. where their BBQ eateries are located, in a tricycle (15php). We didn’t realize though that many of the eateries were closed at such an hour and that most open by sunset. There was one, 4As, that was open so that was where we ate our lunch and as it turned out, our every meal was eaten at 4As! We ordered a whole roasted chicken, some pork barbecue, rice, soda and buko (coconut) salad good for 4 people. It was so good! We were stuffed yet we spent less than 400php. :D

4A's yumy roasted chicken :)

Next in the agenda was to look for a place to stay at. A local friend of mine suggested that we stay at Leomondee Hotel. Rates start at 500php. Ours was a big airconditioned room with 3 beds and private toilet that we got for 1200php. There’s free wifi by the lounge area. The lady at the reception was very helpful despite the fact that she wouldn’t give us any discounts. She gave me directions on how to get to Day-asan floating village and Mabua’s pebble beach. After a quick change of clothes, we went out with the 2 destinations in mind.

Leomondee Hotel in Surigao City

Day-Asan Floating Village and Mangrove Forest

Getting to Day-asan, we’d have to ride a motorbike (20php). It can seat 4 (according to the drivers) but we insisted on just 2 of us per motorbike as suggested to us earlier coz it’s safer that way. 30minutes later, we arrived at our destination. A small port was there. We talked to a man there and asked him if it was possible to hire a boat to tour us around the place. Turns out, he owns one and he tours people around too. We paid 300php for the boat. The tour took almost 2 hours.

By Day-asan's port

Talking to our guide/boatman

It is the so-called “Little Venice” of Surigao. The floating village was built in a huge mangrove area. Houses were erected on wooden stilts and bedded rocks. Paddle boats ply the waterways. There were fishpens in the area near every house. We asked our guide what those were for and he informed us that it was for lobsters. Nice! :) He said he’d bring us to a white beach. It wasn’t much of a beach but near it were many corals visible from our seats on the boat. The waters were that clear! I was wistfully hoping I had brought my snorkel gear for this trip!

A house on stilts

Mangrove forest

Mabua Pebble Beach

On the way back, we were in a bit of a hurry to get to Mabua because Chockie wanted to capture the sunset in his shots. We would have rented motorbikes to get us there but they were asking for 100php per person. Expensive! Instead, we asked to be brought back to the city (20php). From there, we hailed a tricycle. We paid 150php for it and it took 40minutes to get us to the pebble beach.

It was quite strange to be on a beach that has multi-sized pebbles instead of sand. Good thing the pebbles were smooth though we still had to be careful walking coz it felt like it’d be very easy to lose your balance there. The sound the pebbles make when the waves crash over them reminded us of heavy raindrops over the roof. I liked it! ;)

Different sized pebbles in Mabua beach

Sunset by a pebbled beach

However, our  friend was disappointed that he didn’t have the sunset he wanted. It was an overcast sky, he said. My other companions were more than happy to have their pictures taken instead. hehe

Having fun with the cam hehe

Me. Amidst the pebbles of a pebbled beach. :)

Too dark to do much, we headed back to the city for our dinner. It was around 9pm when we headed back to our pension house. I slept early as we’d have a long day ahead of us.

Related Post:

Sohoton Cove and Non Sting Jellyfish!

Boracay: Places To Stay At

Whether you’re on a tight budget or you wanna pamper yourself, there’s a place that can cater to your every whim. :)

Boracay Regency Hotel

Boracay Regency Beach Resort & Convention Center

View from the top, well, 3rd floor that is :)

Located in Station 2, this is the largest hotel on the island. Whenever I’d go there with my mom, we’d stay here. I guess she likes the fact that it’s very comfortable there but it’s not as expensive if compared with other big hotels in the area. They have a package wherein you’d be paying 7500php per person for a 3D2N stay at the hotel inclusive of transfers (900php) as well as (6) buffet meals (500php). They have 3 pools and a gym that guests can use. There’s no free wifi access in the rooms though. I had to go to the lobby, lounge area or even by the pool for some free wifi.

Frendz Resort

The path that leads to Frendz

Frendz native style cottages

Located in Station 1, this hostel is popular with backpackers. The place with its 15 native style cottages is a 2-minute walk towards the main road from White Beach. I went there twice with a friend who stayed at the place for almost a month. The employees there were very nice. the place has a common area where guests can talk to each other and share travel stories and experiences. They have a billiard table, books and board games as well as wifi for their guests. Dorm rooms are good for about 4-6people (400php/pax) while private rooms start at a little over a thousand pesos.

La Carmela de Boracay

La Carmela

Located in Station 2, though I thought it was already in 3 seeing as how far way it was from D’Mall, etc. hehe La Carmela de Boracay Resort Hotel seem to be a popular choice with people traveling in groups. They have promos wherein you’ll pay 2500php per person for a group of at least 3pax and that includes a 3d2n stay + meals. :)

La Fiesta Resort

La Fiesta's non beach front rooms

Contact Person: Armarlda Tupas – 0919 8610886

Located in Station 1, several meters away from the beach front. But they have rooms on the beachfront too. We paid 1000php per night for a room for two. Our airconditioned room was on the second floor and it was very spacious. We had a mini ref too. The caretakers on the floor below us provided us the assistance we needed; if we’d be needing some utensils coz we bought some food, they’d lend us some etc. I like the fact that it was a quiet place yet it’s a very short walk away from the beach.

Residencia Boracay

Residencia Boracay's beach front

Bird cage-like swings :)

Located in Station 1, Residencia Boracay has a very good location on the island. It has a large beach front and is surrounded by nice hotels. The rooms here are spacious and the rates aren’t as expensive as the others. The employees are very helpful but more so the owners, Tirol-Labios Family. I stayed here with almost 40 of my friends and we had a truly wonderful time. :D

Two Seasons Boracay

Located in Station 1, this hotel likes its rooms in a zen minimalist  style but is still looking very nice and comfy. The presidential room can cost as high as 30,000php per night! The rooms here basically have the same price as the other hotels in the area (it starts at 6,000php but they have promos from time to time so do check it out).

Villa Simprosa

Contact person: Noriel Pascual – 09173274076/ 09228491950

Located in Station 2, this place is right smack of the hustle and bustle of the island. We paid 1200php per night for an airconditioned room that accommodated all 4 of us. We had to add another 300php (or the extra mattress) when another friend decided to join us. We had our own porch and it was a beach front room; a convenience store was below us. At least we didn’t have to go far for our necessities.

PS: There are tons more to choose from that I haven’t included here. We even found a dorm room for 200php but you can get the whole room for 500php (max of 4pax), but I wouldn’t recommend the place as it’s in Angol Point (at the far end of Station 3) already and the room isn’t so nice. Also, all prices are invariably dependent on whether it’s the off or peak season and on your haggling skills. hehe If you don’t like the room you booked in, move on to another place. There really are tons to choose from. Unless it’s super peak season, probably. ;)

Vacant rooms...

...abound

Related Posts:

Boracay

Getting to Boracay (and back)

Boracay: Where To Eat

Boracay: Where To Go

DIY: Getting to Boracay (and back)

For first timers to this beach island (I know lots who haven’t been there yet), there’s no need to avail of package tours to get there since it’s simple. Here’s a guide on how to get there. :)

Last update: July 13, 2011

Boracy Island's many sails :)

Catch a flight from Manila bound for (preferably) Caticlan or Kalibo by booking flights with local airlines. For Caticlan, check out Airphil, CebuPac and Seair. Aside from the first two, PAL and Zest Air also have daily flights for Kalibo. OR ride a RoRo from Batangas pier to Caticlan port. It will take about 12 hours and costs less than 1000php.

In Kalibo:

Outside the airport are buses/ shuttle vans (200php) bound for Caticlan. Get in on one of those. It would take around an hour and a half to reach Caticlan.

In Caticlan:

Caticlan’s newly renovated airport was unveiled on June 25, 2011. They added a second floor to the building and modernized it along the way. Though it’s not as big as the other airports in the country, it definitely got style. ;)

Caticlan Airport

Upon landing and being ushered inside, there’s a desk there wherein visitors would have to register. They also made it “more” tourist friendly by having this section, just beside the registration area, wherein you can pay for everything (tricycle and other fees if you’re doing it DIY)  at once so that you don’t have to go through many lines to pay for various fees.

  1. Tricycle – 80php for a tricycle that’s good for 3pax
  2. Boat – 25php
  3. Terminal Fee – 25php
  4. Environmental and Admission Fee – 75php

You can register and pay your fees here

Waiting for our backpacks :)

Caticlan and Boracay make use of two ports depending on the season. During summer months, it’s Caticlan’s jetty port which is just around 5 minutes away from the airport on a tricycle. One can probably walk towards there but I have yet to try that. hehe Then, you get on a boat that would sail for around 15 minutes to get to Boracay’s  jetty port. During the rainy season though (July-October), they make use of Caticlan’s Tabon Port which is around 10-15minutes tricycle ride away from the airport. Then it’s a few minutes boat ride til you get to Boracay’s Cagban Port. Get on a tricycle (100php flat rate) to take you to wherever your destination is on the island. If there are many of you, better get on a multicab for 250php.

Riding a boat to get to Boracay Island

Multicab terminal at the port

Heading back to Manila, you only have to retrace the steps given above. Though this time, you would only have to pay for the boat (25php). Caticlan airport’s terminal fee is 20php while it’s 40php for Kalibo International Airport.

Checking in at Caticlan Airport

At the pre departure area one rainy afternoon

If you can get to the airport early, it’s possible that they’d let you in on the earlier flight. It happened to us twice for my last trip there. Also, if you’re going there during the rainy season, always check with your airline for changes or cancellation with your flight schedule to avoid hassles.

Related Posts:

Boracay

Boracay: Where To Stay At

Boracay: Where To Eat

Boracay: Where To Go

Boracay

July 2, 2011

Boracay, one of my favorite destinations in the country! :D

Boracay Island is approximately 7kms long , dog bone-shaped with the narrowest point being less than a kilometer wide. The island is located just off the north western corner of Panay Island.

A dog bone-shaped island

Boracay Island is a popular destination for beach lovers. It was voted again and again as having one of the best beaches in the world. Its white sand is its most popular draw in. But I guess what draws visitors (like me) over and over there again is the fact that its white sand is just so powdery soft! Also, the sand never gets “too hot” to thread upon barefooted. The island also has beautiful sunsets. These days, aside from its beaches, it’s the lively atmosphere that makes it a must-visit vacation place. Its party reputation however has kept others who are seeking for a quiet vacation away. I say that Boracay island can offer solitude too. One just has to keep one’s distance away from its main attraction, White Beach.

Boracay's White Beach

Getting there is easy. Catch a flight bound for Caticlan or Kalibo, or ride a RoRo for Caticlan then get on a boat that will take you to the island. Lastly, ride a tricycle or a multicab to take you to wherever your destination is.

Enroute to Caticlan from Kalibo airport

In Boracay's Jetty Port

Whenever I go there with the family, we’d stay at Boracay’s Regency Hotel. ;) However, when I’m with friends, we’d try to find the cheapest room we can stay at (that has a good location) or couchsurf if possible. :)

Residencia Boracay's comfy swing :)

There are a lot of stuff you can do at the island: for sea loving people… island hop, helmet dive, snorkel, dive and swim; parasail, skimboard, kitesurf and cliff dive if you want a more adrenaline rush kind of activity. Others ride the zorb or go around parts of the island on an ATV. While there are those who enjoy lazing most of their day away by the beach.

Kite surfers going at it :D

My first trip there was because my cousin, vacationing from the US, wanted a trip to somewhere we’ve never been to. I kept coming back ever since! :D The craziest of which was when a friend celebrated her birthday and decided to host all of her guests there. There were probably around 40 of us coming in from different flights  in a span of 2-3 days! We were there for 4 fun days. The most chill was my last trip. I stayed for a week and having done most of the activities I mentioned before, I spent most of my time by the beach or explored parts of the island I have never been to. I thought I’d be bored by the end of it but days flew me by and the next thing I knew, I had to leave. :(

Staying out late with friends

Happy faces after a day of ciff diving :D

Lazy day at the beach

Think happy thoughts: I’ll be going back there next week! :D

Related Posts:

Getting to Boracay

Boracay: Where To Stay At

Boracay: Where To Eat

Boracay: Where To Go

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