Posts Tagged ‘ Philippines ’

El Nido Escapade (day2)

February 23, 2011

A lot of friends have said that the beauty of El Nido would be best appreciated if you go island hopping. We heeded their advice so that’s what we did!

The view from El Nido town

We checked out of Marikit so that we can stay in Entalula, they had 2 vacant rooms that morning. We (my cousin and I) really like the place and the fact that we’re being treated as family members helped sway us! Our fan room costs 1200php, if you’ll opt to use the air-conditioning unit, be ready to shell out another 600php. The boys were more practical. They decided to stay inland and shared a 700php room at El Nido Inn and Restaurant which included a breakfast  for two, not sure if they have wifi though as the 2 guys weren’t keen on it, good deal! However, do take note that there are a lot more options, just be patient and you’ll find one that will suit your taste.  After our breakfast, we quickly headed back to the beach to join other people for tour A. We booked with Entalula since theirs is 100php cheaper than the rest. It was supposed to start at 9am but they were waiting for us. It was already past 9, oops!

Tapsilog for breakfast at El Nido Inn & Restaurant

There are 2 options when doing island hoping. First is to join a tour, fixed price, then you’ll get to meet people and make new friends (hopefully) plus you won’t have to worry about anything like food, where to go, etc because they’ll take care of it but you might not like the people you end up traveling with and you’ll have to adjust to them. They have tours A, B, C and D, a mix of caves, hidden beaches, snorkel sites, etc. OR you can hire your own private boat then you’ll be your own boss, you go wherever you want, you won’t have to adjust to anyone but you have to haggle (boat rental prices start at 3500php)/ make lots of decisions, worry about food. It could be cheaper though if you know what you’re doing. Also, there’s an eco-tourism development fee (ETDF) of 200php that everyone has to pay. The money the municipality collected is meant to  maintain and protect the environment. You only have to pay it once and it’s valid for 10days. Local residents are exempted from it though. ;)

Cruisin' the whole day :)

I ‘m not exactly in a chatty mood during boat rides because 1. it’s too loud to start a conversation and 2. since I’m really interested at the sights, 3. I just want to absorb it all in. After a while though, it doesn’t matter that it’s loud so I start talking. Can’t keep quiet for so long. hehe

...and we're off for the islands!

Nick taking beautiful pictures :)

There were 9 of us (not counting our guides):  2 Pinoys, me & Charlie, 1 American, 1 British, 1 French, 1 Brazilian and 3 Estonian. They were all so nice!

us :)

Note: No pictures were taken when in “hidden/secret” beaches/ lagoons since my camera isn’t waterproof and I have no intention of getting it wet. ;)

Tour A, according to the tour operators, is the most popular choice. The small and big lagoons are a favorite amongst many visitors. I have several postcards of those places and it’s just so beautiful!

1st stop- Secret beach. :)

2nd stop- Shimizu Island. Very good for snorkeling. It’s just that the waves were a bit strong when we were there so I had a really hard time swimming, seriously thought I was going to drown and no one would have noticed it since they were all busy (sleeping by the beach, swimming, snorkeling, etc). I should have gotten a pair of fins and wore a life jacket! It would have helped a lot since I’m not exactly a good swimmer. Decided to stay on land after this. :)) Got busy taking pictures of the place and of my companions. Lunch was served here. :)

Our camera-shy Frenchie at Shimizu Island

Enjoying the island

Sleeping under the shade

Lunch was prepared by our guides

With my dear cousin :)

3rd stop- Small and big lagoon, Miniloc Island. Wanted to kayak (800php for a day’s rent) here with my cousin. But then we forgot to tell THAT to our guide so we missed our chance! Ugh! We were just too busy admiring the place and taking shots/videos. :D Even bought a rash guard so I won’t get any darker but then couldn’t find it when I was packing my stuff!

Everyone got taken in by the view at the big lagoon ;)

I couldn't capture the beauty of this place

Pic courtesy of Nick :)

4th stop- Secret lagoon. Had to get off the boat and swim to get inside the secret lagoon. After several minutes, I was just about to follow the others, when Charlie swam back and told me that he thought he saw a sea snake so the coward me didn’t follow the rest. :( Tried to enjoy swimming at the water before the secret lagoon but ended up scraping my foot. It wasn’t just me though. Another also got a wound, on his leg this time, when he was swimming back to the boat. Stones were sharp, be careful!

Sweet couple before the Secret Lagoon

:)

5th stop- Seven commando. Our last stop for the day. The rest enjoyed their buko juice while relaxing by the beach. My cousin and I kayaked ourselves all over. We had to do it somewhere, we’re paying for the kayak! :D

Next stop: Seven commando beach

We let the guys borrow our kayak in exchange for their buko drinks hehe

It felt that it ended all too soon. We’re back in town. Went our separate ways to freshen up and planned to meet by our place after to grab some food and hang out. As we’re walking about town, we (Leandro and I) spotted a fruit shake stand so we zeroed in on it! We’re thirsty and we wanted to drink something refreshing. As we were waiting for our drinks, other visitors passed us by. One of them, Ricardo,  started talking to us. He’s so friendly! He was happy to have met Leandro since he now has someone to talk Portuguese with (he’s  a Peruvian exchange student in Singapore). He got our numbers and he’d join us later.

Fruit shake stand

We can’t get enough of the water and it’s what we went there for so we hung out by the shore. Relaxation time after swimming all day. Watching the sun set wasn’t bad either. We then had dinner at Blue Azul. It’s located inland, they serve delicious foods plus they have wifi! haha My cousin and I were looking for wifi most of the time. The chicken we ordered was very good, yum! Afterwhich, we went back by the beach and hang out with the (tons of) people we met that day til it was time to go to bed. Good day. :)

El Nido buddies :)

El Nido Tour Package Infos (Standard rate):

  • Tour A/ Lagoon Tour: Lagoons, Beaches, Snorkeling – 700php/pax
  • Tour B/ Cave Tour: Snake Island, Caves, Snorkeling – 800php/pax
  • Tour C/ Secret Beach: Matinloc Island, Snorkeling – 900php/pax

*Tours usually start around 9-10am and lasts the whole day. Lunch are included in tours. Do bring plenty of water especially if you get thirsty easily. Besides, you don’t want to get dehydrated.  You have to bring your own mask, snorkel and fins, others are rented out for 100php a piece (snorkel set and fins) but try to bargain for 100php for the two. Don’t forget your sunblock and shades.

*There’s no need to book tours way in advance. You can do it once you’re in town so you can compare. We booked with Entalula coz theirs is 100php cheaper than the others. :)

Related posts:

Getting to El Nido

Lazy day in El Nido

2nd day of Island Hopping

Lagoon Tour

El Nido Escapade (day1)

February 22, 2011

My cousin and I can’t wait to get to El Nido coz we’re just psyched to go to the sea, chill and relax in a beautiful place and El Nido is IT. :)

Flying over Palawan

We’re going to travel with Charlie. Met up with him at the boarding gate. I’ve sort of planned for this trip but that morning, when I sent another sms to confirm my reservation with Marina Garden, they told me that they thought I made a reservation for the month of March and not February! They canceled my reservation which was really bad of them since it was done by me a month prior the trip and we’re now suddenly “homeless.” No worries though because friends came to the rescue. They gave me so many contact numbers and so many recommendations.

Charlie! My travel buddy! :D

We didn’t fly directly to El Nido because that would be really expensive. Upon arrival in Puerto Princesa, I still haven’t made up my mind on whether to stay in the capital, head to Sabang, or catch a shuttle to El Nido on the same day. We took a tricycle (50php) to head downtown to check for a room in Casa Linda Inn. I’ve stayed there before and it was really nice and relatively cheap. Unfortunately, they were fully booked. Someone also told me that it was already late to do the underground river tour (it was 10am) since we’d have to get permits first etc. That being the case, staying in Puerto Princesa as well as heading off to Sabang was nixed off our options leaving us with the decision to head straight to El Nido. The driver brought us to Fort Wally’s (09172762875)  main office downtown wherein we made reservations. We might have paid for more because from what I’ve read and from what some told us, it’s 600php to El Nido and 500php to PPC. We each shelled out 1300php (700 and 600php respectively). The reason we were given was that, it would have been cheaper if we went to the terminal and rode from there instead of being “picked up” downtown. Bummer. After paying for our seats, we made some last minute shopping for whatever necessities (bought a few snacks, withdrew money from ATMs coz there’s no ATM in EL Nido, bought sarongs and had breakfast).

Time to eat, we're hungry!

As we were about to eat breakfast, Ate Lea spotted a French guy we met in the airport the day before, Quentin. We were in the same flight from Bangkok to Manila. Also, he’s enroute to El Nido. Almost the same travel plans as us so I invited him to join us for a meal. He’s soooo adorable! He was going to head up also that same day but then his friends told him that they’d be arriving in PPC the next day that’s why he decided to wait for them. Soon it was 11am, time to board the shuttle, pick up other passengers and head over to paradise!

With Quentin in Puerto Princesa

The shuttle headed to the terminal to wait for more passengers. We had to wait long for one guy because according to the lady in charge, there were some misunderstanding about the pick up time and point. Took us about 30minutes. It turns out that we knew the guy we had to wait for, Nick! He was another travel mate visiting from Taipei. His original plan was to go to El Nido the next day but he decided to join us coz it’s his main destination anyways. :)

The drive took 5-6 hours which included a 20-30minutes lunch break at a Fort Wally eatery in Roxas, 2hours away from PPC; stopping by San Vicente to pick up some passengers; drop them off at  Taytay; and fix a broken tire. The last 2hours of the trip was kinda bumpy since the road has yet to be paved. It didn’t matter that much to me (and I believe, the others as well) since the view is more than making up for it, karst mountains, the sea, so many trees. Happy!

New tire. Flat tire. :(

Think positively: at least we got to stretch our legs and take pictures! :D

Enroute to El Nido :)

After getting off at El Nido’s terminal, we walked to town. When people say a place is small, it really is small. You can walk all over town in less than 30minutes if you pace yourself. It was around 5pm and that’s when it gets hard to look for a place. It’s easier in the morning because that’s the time that the vans filled with visitors head back to PPC. We found some alright places but it’s either we don’t like the place, found it too expensive or something else. I then decided to ask help from a friend’s mom. She looked a lot like Brenda, her daughter, that I already addressed her as Tita Emy before confirming it. My cousin and I liked her instantly coz she took us in and treated us as her own daughters. She looked like she wanted to scold us for not having planned more. haha Her place is called Entalula but they were fully booked that night with the possibility of having a vacant room or two the following morning. She made her son go to her sister’s place to check if they have room for us. They did! We stayed at Marikit for that night (800php/ room/ 2pax). Having solved the question of where to sleep at, we went out to find some food. :D

First sunset in El Nido

There were a lot of options on where to eat at in El Nido from affordable carinderias to the more heavy on the pocket places. We ate at Curry House. Not that cheap but the sizes of the servings made up for what we paid for. The place is sort of a cross between an art store and a restaurant. Pretty nice ambiance.

A large serving of vegetarian curry

The guys called it a night soon after dinner. We all went into our respective rooms but then my cousin and I can’t believe we’re in our room getting ready for bed when it was just about 10pm (or earlier). With that, we decided to head out again and to pass the time by the beach. We just want to be closer to the water. Went to bed after a couple of hours. :)

Relaxing by the beach :)

A glass of caipirinha to cap the night

Accommodation infos (as shared by friends):

beachfront

  • Rico’s – 09272588456/ 09294671632 (1000php)
  • Gloria’s cottages – 09191677870 (600php/ fan room)
  • The Entalula – www.entalula.com

for a detailed list, visit  this site

Related posts:

1st Day of Island Hopping

Lazy day in El Nido

2nd Day of Island Hopping

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. :)

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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

 

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Trekking Pinatubo

Trekking Pinatubo

A friend suggested a grand entrance for my first blog entry. I asked him what he had in mind. He told me to post my first blog to coincide with my birthday so that it would be more dramatic. And here I am actually doing what he said!

Grand, dramatic, explosive… the one thing that comes to my mind is Mt. Pinatubo and the day trip I made there with 35 other people! :D


December 13, 2009

We had to be up and ready to leave very early in the morning (take that to mean as 3am). There were two assembly point for the group, one van’s in Southmall for those joining from the South (Las Piñas, Parañaque, Muntinlupa) which will then proceed to the next stop, McDonald’s parking lot in Quezon Avenue, where 2 more vans were waiting. After some delays (waiting for some people/ last minute food shopping/ seating arrangement problems), the group then left for a 3-hour travel to Tarlac.

Before shot: people from all over (Philippines, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Taiwan) joining me in this trip

Pinatubo Spa Town in Sta. Juliana is our first destination. This is the place where you will have to register at the Tourism Office and pay the required conservation/ environmental fee. The Capas Pinatubo Four Wheelers Association is also based here. The last part of your journey to reach the famed volcano is an hour long ride in rough terrain hence the need for the 4×4 wheels rental. One will be assigned to you on the spot or if you know any of the drivers, you may contact him in advance. We had to rent 7 of those coz there where 36 of us. They implement a strict-5 people per vehicle rule (we tried to convince them that we’d be needing only 6 coz to rent one more will add an additional 3750php to our expenses to no avail! hehe).

Are you guys having fun? :D

The ride will begin with at least 3 check point then it will take you over a vast land area that’s covered deep in lahar (lahar canyons), over streams, hills that were formed from the volcano’s eruption, and you will meet a small Aeta community along the way. It was a fun & scenic ride!

Traversing lahar canyons

At the jump off point is where the “trekking” will begin. I originally thought that it’s at least two hours of walking but since they want the volcano to be easily accessible to visitors, they’re creating paths to even shorten the current 20-minute trek! Where’s the fun in that guys?! ;)

What's your age? ;)

The most difficult part of that short walk for us “not active” people (yes, i’m avoiding the word sedentary here ^_^) was the climb up towards the volcano’s crater. The “fit” ones were still chatting away while the others were starting to catch their breaths. :D

Chris and Archie walking

Anyways, all the effort was worth it coz once you get to the top of that step, you’ll have your first glimpse of the Pinatubo Lake in all its rich aquamarine colors within the volcano’s caldera. The lake is huge! Mt. Pinatubo is within the borders of 3 province: Zamabales, Tarlac and Pampanga.

Pinatubo Crater Lake

The day was spent swimming (okay, so it was mostly wading in the waters for the non swimmers which is to say almost half of the group haha), cam whoring (!), eating (best to bring finger foods) and lazing around.You have to be careful if you’re not a good swimmer coz there’s a steep decline a few feet (5?) away from the edge of the water. Everyone’s reminded to be careful because the actual depth of the lake is yet to be measured.

Since we don't really swim, we'll take pictures instead!

Time passed quickly that soon it was time to pack up and leave. The ride back was the same but coz of the activities done, the roughness of the ride lulled a number of people to sleep which caused at least (I wasn’t sure how it was in the other cars) one to almost fall off the vehicle. hehehe

I can guarantee that you’ll arrive back at the Spa covered in dust (unless you wrapped yourself up in some shawl) that the best option after swimming in the lake and drying up is to just wait ’til you get to the spa before changing into your usual clothing coz you definitely need to shower after. ;)

After shot: CS Philippines Conquers Mt. Pinatubo

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DIY: Trek Pinatubo for a day