Posts Tagged ‘ Luzon ’

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

Swimming with Whalesharks in Donsol

May 28, 2010

A friend from Germany visited the country for 21 days. I took it as an excuse to tour the countryside! ;)

Why 21 days? Because that’s the maximum number of days he’s legally allowed to stay in this country without getting a visa. What to do with 21 days? Easy. Meet up with friends and tour the country! hehe

1st stop: Donsol, Sorsogon

Mission: Swim with butandings! :D

A butanding souvenir

Whalesharks are locally referred to as butandings. They are the world’s biggest fish and the funny thing about it is that they since they are filter-feeders they eat the smallest creature in the water, planktons, though that means they’d have to eat a lot! With five pair of gills, dorsal and pectoral fins, their blue-gray, spotted body reaching up to lengths of 40 feet, whalesharks are indeed a sight to behold. Despite their gigantic size though, they are gentle creatures so it’s possible to swim alongside them. It is because of them, whalesharks, that Donsol, used to be a level 5, is now a level 1 municipality which thrives on eco-tourism and and is famous worldwide as the whaleshark capital of the world. Butandings are sighted between the months of November and June with its peak from February to May.

To get there, we flew in to Legaspi, capital of Albay province. It was a one hour flight. I knew I was in Legaspi when I saw Mayon’s perfect volcano. They have a local saying that if you were able to see its perfect cone, then you’ll have a wonderful trip. I surely hope so! :)

Maon's perfect cone viewed from inside our plane

From the airport, we rode a tricycle towards the city terminal from which there are buses, jeepneys, vans and tricycles that will take you to various destination in the province. We were the first two passengers of the van bound for the town of Donsol in Sorsogon. We had to wait for at least 30 minutes before at least half was occupied.Fare was 65php per person if your van seats 14. Since my friend and I were in a bit of a hurry to get going (we’re worried we won’t see any whalesharks), the two of us along with another tourist, an American named Jeff, agreed to shoulder the cost of the last 5 vacant seats, we each shelled out 175php. It was approximately an hour before we reach Donsol’s town proper.

At the city terminal

To be able to swim with the whalesharks, we first had to register at the Visitor’s Center which is located in Barangay Dancalan. We got there by riding a tricycle (20php each) when we got off the van at the town proper. Registration fee for locals is 100php while it’s 300php for foreigners. From here, we had the choice to not wait for other tourists but then we’ll pay for the cost of the whole boat (3500php, with a maximum capacity of 6 pax) or wait so that we’d pay cheaper. We were sort of willing to wait but not for a long time. To keep us occupied, we went out to look for a place to stay at for the night.

Visitor's Center

Located just several meters away from the Visitor’s Center is Villa JoLee, a no frills inn that is not too hard on the pocket. We got an airconditioned room with two double bed for 1400php per night; 900 for one queen size bed. It wasn’t bad considering that others cost more than 1500php. Finding a room to settle in, we changed into our swimwear and headed back to the VC.

Villa JoLee

Unfortunately, there had been no other tourists who signed up to join us by the time we got back, we were out for probably only half an hour hehe. Too excited to wait longer, the three of us again agreed to share the whole cost. Having paid for the boat, a Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) was assigned to us, Kuya Nognog (0918 4592646). We were made to enter a room wherein we watched a video presentation about the town of Donsol, its environment, whalesharks and how to interact with them. We were good to go after watching the vid! :D

Getting oriented :)

As it was almost June, I was seriously hoping that we’d still be able to swim with whalesharks. It turns out that the boat before us had no sighting after around 3 hours at sea. *sigh* It was a hot, sunny day. Our BIO wouldn’t guarantee to us that we’ll find some whalesharks to swim with but he’s also not saying otherwise. I was clinging on that. hehehe It was a quiet first half hour, we were cruising away from Dancalan; I was enjoying the view, my two companions were chatting with each other, our guide was busy trying to spot a whaleshark.

With newly met friend, Jeff

When all of a sudden everything came into action. Our guide saw something, told our boatman to get in a specific direction and he got animated and began instructing us. One question from him, “who isn’t a good swimmer?” I tentatively raised my hand. Gotta suck it up. I so want to swim with the whalesharks even if it meant having to admit to my (lack of) swimming prowess! ;) He told us to put on our snorkel gears (and fins), sit by the edge of the boat and jump into the water as soon as he says so. Once he did, we all jumped. In the water, it’s quite a different story, as bright as it was above water, down below, the water was a murky. Visibility was only several meters. I was just getting my bearings underwater when our guide pointed to something. Initially, I couldn’t see anything. Slowly though, you’ll spot a  shadow of a huge creature slowly moving towards you and as it gets nearer (it gets bigger too), you’ll see the gills, it’s spotted skin, its eyes looking at you. It was scary! But then you’ll get over your fear (attributed mostly coz of its size) and just be amaze at swimming with them! It then it swam beneath us and went on until we couldn’t see it.  Wow!!!! We actually swam with a butanding! :D

Having swam with one whaleshark, everyone got into such a good mood (I was ecstatic)! We spotted and swam with 3 more! I was hoping for at least one that when we got four, I felt blessed. ;) While the other whalesharks gently swam past us, one kept coming back and was playing with my companions. It swam so close to them that my friend, afraid of getting crushed, hold out his hands to ward it off and got to touch it! A big no-no. He later told us that it was purely a defensive reaction! I was starting to give him a lecture that’s why hehe

Gentle butanding :)

More than satisfied with our mission, we headed back to our room. Changed into dry clothes and went downtown to find somewhere to eat at and to explore the place. There are few choices of places to eat at in Dancalan, most are resaurants of the various inns/ hotels there. We prefer to eat in eateries around Donsol town. Foods are definitely cheaper and I found them more flavorful. :)

Donsol :)

Walking around Donsol town

Our BIO offered to take us on a firefly river tour (850php for the two of us with pick up from our room), with nothing much to do, we thought it’d be a good idea. People are brought to either Donsol or Ogod River. Donsol River is more popular but they say that there are more fireflies in Ogod River that’s why we chose to go to the latter. Around 6:30 in the evening, Kuya Nognog was by our door to fetch us with his tricycle. He drove us towards the river and guided us along the dark path. Another relative of his was waiting and all of us boarded a boat. They were to be our guides. The moon was very bright that night. I looked back a couple of times thinking there was a car behind us but it was just the moonlight shining past the trees and mangroves. It was a beautiful night but in terms of firefly watching, it was bad timing. We almost didn’t see any firefly. Good thing we came upon a tree that was well lit up by then, it looked like it had thousands of blinking lights. It was so pretty! I tried taking pictures but my camera’s settings wasn’t up to the task. After several more minutes, we went back to shore. Had dinner downtown with our guide and called it a night. It was a long but fun day! :D

Cruisin' down Ogod River

Kuya Nognog guiding us

If I try any sort of flash, no firefly would be seen

The moon was shining brightly

On the way back :)

Roadtrip in Ilocos (part 2)

March 21, 2010

Our second day started out early. We’re all well rested and ready for the long day ahead.

We scrapped plans of another roadtrip and opted for a laid back morning. We’re going to go beaching and Len has the perfect place for us. Badoc Island!

It took a 10 minute drive to get us to the coastline from our host’s place. From there, we had to ride a boat. I found it scary because it was a small boat and we had no lifevest. I opted to seat inside, on the boat’s floor instead of sitting on the side.

We literally had the whole island for ourselves and the water was crystal clear it was like being in a swimming pool. The only downside was that we were stung by jellies that morning. Water was safe past 10am though. hehehe

The underwater views in our country are always a sight to behold and the place was no exception. I’m glad I brought my snorkel gear along. :)

We brought food and had an impromptu picnic there. We were very hungry from all that swimming, our food was quickly finished!

Time flies when you’re having fun. It was all too soon that we had to head back because we still have Ilocos Sur’s Vigan in our list. ;)

The only down side that I can think of when traveling with a big group was that even if your host has a lot of bathroom, it will still take ages for everyone to get freshened up! Hmph! We walked around the town while waiting for our turn to shower hehehe

After everyone’s packed up and ready to head off to our next destination, we set aside a few minutes for group pictures. :)

We had to wait for almost 30 minutes to catch a bus headed for Ilocos Sur. No worries though because we were all busy munching on delicious empanadas sold on the street. That and taking pictures of course! We had to part ways with DJ though coz he’s headed back to Pagudpud (lucky guy!).

With DJ, before he boarded the bus for Pagudpud

Vigan is Ilocos Sur’s capital. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is famed for its Spanish influenced colonial houses and cobblestone streets. A stroll in Crisologo Street is like a walk back in time. :)

Calle Crisologo

Unfortunately, we had limited time there coz it’s back to work the next morning for most of us. It was still enjoyable and is on my list of places to return to. ;)

Roadtrip in Ilocos (day 1)

Len, a good friend who hails from Badoc in Ilocos Norte, hosted me along with 18 more from the world over in her hometown for a weekend. I had so much fun! I must say that Ilocos province is one of my favorite countryside. The view of the ride is very scenic; the mountains, plains, the sea, it all kept me enchanted with the province.


March 19, 2010

Our meeting place is at RCJ bus station in Sampaloc, Manila along España by 9pm. It’s opposite Florida bus line, almost directly in front of UST. Since it was a Friday night (again), traffic was heavy so our host Len along with few other joiners were late. She sent me an sms to get everyone organized. I introduced myself to the others joining us on the trip and collected 500php from them for the bus fare! hehe We were all seated at the bus when our wonderful host arrived. :D

The bus set off a few minutes past 9pm. We had two stops over the night and I learned from Len that you can claim some noodles and biscuits at one of the stop by just showing them your bus ticket. Cool! The ride took 9hours. A bright sunny morning woke us up. :)

Initial itinerary is to cover as many spot as we possibly could given our short stay there that’s why our first day is going to be a roadtrip!

1st stop: Paoay Church a.k.a. St. Augustine Church in Paoay

Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Church is a unique combination of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental designs. Its facade reveals Gothic affinity, its gables show Chinese elements, while the niches topping the walls suggest Javanese influence (reminiscent of the famous Boroboudur Temple). Known as the “Earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines, Paoay church was built of baked bricks, coral rocks, salbot (tree sap) and lumber, and has 24 carved massive buttresses for support. – wikiPilipinas

When we got there, a wedding was about to take place, perfect timing for taking pictures! :D

Along with students nearby practicing some dance moves for a presentation.

It really is a beautiful church. :)

2nd stop: Bahay Ti Ili (Marcos’ ancestral house) in Batac

A property owned by the Marcos family, it features their ancestral house as well as a museum filled with the late president’s memorabilia and a mausoleum which houses his waxed remains. Taking pictures within the mausoleum isn’t allowed.

3rd stop: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse a.k.a. Faro Cabo Cape Bojeador a.k.a. Burgos Lighthouse in Burgos

Considered as a cultural heritage structure, its light marks the northwesternmost part of Luzon.

The view of Cape Bojeador from the top of the lighthouse is amazing!

That’s why it is popular with tourists. ;)

4th stop: Pagudpud

The place is known for its fine white sand that’s why it’s touted as Boracay of the north. We had our late lunch here and made some time for fun in the water and on the beach.

5th stop: NorthWind Bangui Bay Project a.k.a. Bangui windmills in Bangui

The first wind farm in the country and the the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is a good example of usage of renewable energy. :)

Since it was past sunset after our stop at Bangui, we went back to our host’s place for dinner and rest. :)

There were places that we weren’t able to go to like the sand dunes and rock formations since there were just so many interesting places to visit. But that gives me another reason to go back. ;)

Considered as a cultural heritage structure.

DIY: Potipot Island Camping

shoreline of Potipot

Potipot is a tiny island off the coast of Uacon, Zambales. Potipot is so small  you can walk around it in about 30 minutes. The sands are a bit fine but I wouldn’t say it’s as fine as those in Boracay. A good place to relax and enjoy the beach, you can even do some snorkeling here.

To get there:

We rode a Victory Liner bus from Caloocan Station bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales. It took us more or less 5 hours to get to Zambales by bus and from there a 10-15 minutes boat ride to reach this haven.

Don’t forget to:

  • Bring along stuff for your entertainment (frisbee, volleyball, a deck of cards, snorkel gear, a book) to keep boredom at bay.

do some snorkeling ;)

  • Be prepared for night time (bring a sleeping bag/tent, blanket, and a good flashlight).
  • If you are going to go camping, make sure you have enough food (for your meals and snacks to munch on too) and drinking water supply.

snacks! :D

Expenses:

island fee

  • bus fare – 436php one way (Mla-Sta.Cruz)
  • overnight fee – 200php
  • boat – 400php/boat (there were 4 of us in it)

 

Related Post:

Overnight in Potipot Island

Overnight in Potipot Island

I made a lot of friends because of my love for traveling and there will always be those whom you share a special bond with. So we (I along with 3 more friends) hatched a plan to stay overnight in an island (qualifiers included: should be reached by land travel, not crowded, chill-out place) for some bonding time.

January 23-24, 2010

Meeting time’s supposed to be at 11pm because the last trip bound for Zambales is around midnight. It was a Friday and traffic was heavy. That was why even though Abby and I left Makati (we just had to attend a dinner on that night too ^_^) around 10, we were barely able to catch the last bus. We literally had to run for it!

and we're off for Caloocan bus terminal!

That bus ride was quite memorable. It was packed! Packed enough that not finding seats wasn’t enough. There was barely room for us to stand in. I seriously thought that I will have to stand for the whole 5-hour trip! Good thing it was for only 2 hours (!). The fact that I was catching up  stories with good friends sort of made the whole thing more bearable. After a couple more hours, it seemed like we were the only ones left when the bus conductor informed us that it was our stop, Dawal.

seeking shelter at a shed one early morning

It was still dark (4:30am-ish) and very cold (for which I was happy that I brought a jacket along) when we got off the bus.  We met a man whilst walking and he asked us if we’re going to Potipot Island. Turns out that he and his wife rent out their boat to travelers as well as provide cooking utensils if you ever need some. It was then agreed upon that he’ll bring us to  the island and fetch us the next day all for 400php with a pot of rice thrown in the deal. :D

Sta. Cruz talipapa

We then proceeded to the marketplace to buy some food, drinks, firewood and we had our first meal of the day there, freshly cooked arroz caldo. Yum!

mag-agahan muna tayo! :D

I thought Potipot Island was near Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove so I was sort of expecting a landscape similar to those two (think: pine trees, streams) that’s why when I saw the island, I turned to my friends and was like “Yan na yun? The usual tropical island with coconut trees?” I blame it on the fact that they’re both in Zambales which is no reason at all come to think of it. They laughingly answered “yes” but turns out it wasn’t just your usual island whatever that means. I hate not doing my research! :)

Potipot Island

There are huts for rent in the island but we opted to camp out. First agenda then is to choose our campsite  and to set up our tents.

campsite. :)

Afterwhich, we set out to do different things. They slept while I was enjoying having the island to myself (not counting the caretakers and my sleeping companions).

The day (more specifically the afternoon) was spent swimming, hanging out, lazing around, taking pics and trying to prepare for dinner and the night. Though we weren’t the best campers and we had some boo-boos, it was loads of fun! We even had a mini bonfire and ate burnt marshallows. hehe

mmmmm

The next day was special for us as we had an agenda even before going there: We were going to clean the island! Or at least try to pick up the litters along the coast. We ended up collecting around 2 garbage bags worth of plastic and other-trash-other-people-left-behind. The island’s caretakers were grateful for our help and we were more than happy to do our small part. :)

That being done, we did some last minute swim and photo op before heading back to the mainland and to metropolitan Manila. :)

Related Post:

Potipot Island Camping

DIY: Trek Pinatubo for a day

The largest volcanic eruption that occurred in living memory was that of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991. Its effect was felt worldwide; bringing down the global temperature by about 0.5 °C and with ashfall reaching countries like Cambodia, Malaysia & Vietnam.

An early eruption picture of Mt. Pinatubo


The eruption blasted the volcano’s summit and it is now replaced with a caldera that’s 2.5kms wide. Of which, a crater lake was formed. Initially, the lake was small, hot and highly acidic, with a minimum pH of 2 and a temperature of about 40 °C. Abundant rainfall cooled and diluted the lake, lowering the temperature to 26 °C and raising the pH to 5.5 by 2003.


For those of the adventurous spirit who would like to go to this historic & beautiful place…

Ride a bus going to Pangasinan, Baguio or Ilocos Provinces (Five Star Bus, Fariñas Transit, Victory Liner) or catch a direct bus to Tarlac and ask  to be dropped off at Capas Public Market. Fare is more or less P200.00 and travel time is around 3 hours.

From the market, catch a jeepney or tricycle to bring you to Pinatubo Spa Town in Sta. Juliana where the Tourism Office and the base camp of Capas Pinatubo Four Wheelers Club Association are situated. You need to pay the environmental fee in the Tourism Office and rent a 4×4 here, they can assign one for you or you may contact any 4×4 driver you know in advance.

Alternatively, you may want to rent a van for a day for a less-hassle travel though you will still have to ride that 4×4 once you arrive in Capas. :)

The lake formed after the volcano's eruption

TAKE NOTHING BUT PICTURES, LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS,

KILL NOTHING BUT TIME

Expenses:

  • 3750php for 4wheeldrive capacity is 4 – 5 persons (max)
  • 500php tourist guide per 4wheeldrive
  • 50php conservation fee per head
  • 500php skyway toll fee per 4wheeldrive
  • *rates will be slightly different for foreigners

To summarize:

If you’re a group of 5,  you will spend a total of 5000php or 1000php/person. There are also optional relaxing packages like boat riding at 350php per head; massage, volcanic ash, mudpack at 500php per category good for one person.

Optional Expenses:

  • Shower fee – P20.00 at Baranggay Hall/P100.00 at Mt. Pinatubo Town Spa
  • Tent rental – P100.00 (if you’re planning on staying for the night)

Sample Itinerary:

03:00am – Departure for Barangay Sta. Juliana, Capaz, Tarlac

06:00am – Arrival at Tourism Office, Capaz, Tarlac for Registration

06:30am – 4×4 skyway ride to jump-off point

07:30am – Trek from jump-off point to crater

08:00am – Arrival at the crater, explore, photo ops

11:30nn – Lunch

01:30pm – Departure from crater to jump off point

02:00pm – Arrival at jump off point, 4 x 4 ride back to Tourism Office

03:00pm – Arrival at Tourism Office

05:00pm – Departure for Manila

Contact Info:

  • 4x4s: Wendell Mercado (president of the Wheeler’s Club) 0919 608 4313

Things to bring:

  • bring your own lunch (there are no restaurants on the crater)
  • camera (for souvenirs)
  • cap/ hat/ shades
  • sunblock
  • water/ drinks
  • swimwear
  • change of clothing (better to change at the Spa since you’ll just get covered by dust on the way back)

Have fun guys! Stay safe!!! :D

 

Related Post:

Trekking Pinatubo

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