Albay in A Day: ‘Coz there’s More than Just Mayon



When one is set to visit the lovely province of Albay in the Bicol Region, it seems that the foremost sight-seeing, must-see or must-do on their list is to to see the world famous Mt. Mayon. Who wouldn’t want to see that perfect cone shape beauty well-known for it’s destructive grace?  But what if she’s too shy to let you have a peek during your visit?

As one who grew up under Magayon’s magnificent nose, I’ve seen how playful she can be at times. But don’t worry, the less you are keen to see her, the less shy she will be. So while you play pretend that you are not “that” interested in her, what other things can you do or see around Albay?

February 1st, we took off with some Couchsurfer friends to explore Albay’s hidden gems. The experience is both a revelation of new spots and also kind of reconnected us with the places we’ve been to years before. We hopped on a rented van (Php 2500) which could have accommodated 15 but we were only 9 (with two kids) and started our tour at 0900H.

Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga

Been here so many times since my childhood but you can never have the same view twice! Cagsawa Ruins is one of the best places to see how destructive Mt Mayon can be. The kids here will gladly tell you about the historic eruption in 1819 that brought Cagsawa in ruins. There are also plenty of shops in Cagsawa that offer souvenirs and ornamental plants at very affordable prices. Alternatively, you may also try out the ATV ride offered here.

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

Hoyop Hoyopan Cave, Camalig Albay

According to the guide/storyteller (Php 300/group of 6), Hoyop hoyopan Cave was discovered in 1950’s but it was only in 1970’s during Marcos regime that it was opened. The cave was home to our ancestors, “cavemen” as he claim. The cave actually has three floors or major chambers and only the middle chamber is open to the public. It was cool and breezy like there is wind blowing in at all times and this is also how it got it’s name “Hoyop” means blow.

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

 

Kawa – Kawa Nature Park, Ligao City

A hill with a “caldera” of sorts for a crater. “Kawa” is a local term for a wok which is what the hill looks like from afar. It was developed and turned into a destination for pilgrims wanting to do a “Station of the Cross” during Holy Week. It also became famous because of the sunflowers that grow abundantly around it during summer months.

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

Tip: Try out Bergs Ice Cream while you climb. It is the best dirty ice cream I’ve tasted in my life and having it as company while you struggle with the steep climb will make it a more enjoyable experience. If you are visiting close to meal time, there is a restaurant where you can place your orders before your trip to the cavalry err hill so that they will be ready once you come down.

Mayon Rest House / Mayon Science Center and Planetarium, Tabaco City

Many years ago, Mayon Rest House is a hotel seated four kilometers beneath Mt Mayon’s summit. A major eruption called for it’s closing for several years until the area was left to deteriorate. During our high school years and sometimes after college, I was able to visit Mayon Rest House and reveled in the wonderful view it offered.

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This year however, sightseeing at this are was moved indoors because of the rain. The Mayon Science Center and Planetarium has been revived and provided lots of additional information for visitors. The kids we have with us enjoyed looking at the huge photos of the heavenly elements. Teloyskie learned a lot from the posters and photos of different types of volcanoes. Additionally, a film showing inside a small amphitheater showed interesting facts and stories about the beautiful volcano called Mayon.

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Vera Falls, Malinao, Albay

We were to set to visit two different falls during this road trip but because it was fast getting dark, we decided to make our last stop at Vera Falls. I’ve written about Vera Falls before and you can read about it here. Upon exiting the road that leads to Mayon Rest House, we traversed Sabluyon Roads towards Malinao, the municipality were Vera Falls is located. When we reached our destination, we all could hear the loud roar of the water. It is more forceful than when we visited last summer- prolly because it just rained hard right before we get there. Teloyskie played around with Choco while our companions took their time taking pictures. And just before the clock strikes 5, we unanimously called it a day and headed back to Legazpi for our dinner.
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Where to Eat in Daet, Camarines Norte

Daet has recently been awarded as one of the most promising municipalities in the country. When in town, you can’t help but notice all the bustling activity going on around you. The market, the stores, businesses… yes this place does  seem to be making it’s mark in the economic zone. But really, Daet has slowly emerged from it’s sleep mode when a growing number of tourists and travelers flocked town on their way to Calaguas Island.

Bagasbas beach which is also a part of Daet also made itself known by drawing in surf enthusiasts not only from around the Philippines but from around the world too! It’s no wonder, several food joints have popped out to satisfy cravings of different tastes.

Catherine’s +Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel Resort

Teloyskie and I first visited Camarines Norte for a group tour of Calaguas Island. The fee covered for everything we needed on the island. Upon returning to Daet, we were encouraged to try surfing in Bagasbas and sample the treats at Catherine’s, a restaurant inside the Bagasbas Lighthouse Resort. There we tried their smoothies which are soo yummy and got that double thumbs up mark from the tot.

Earl’s Burger (Bagasbas Beach and Brgy 1)

Recently, I was able to visit Daet once again but this time it was for some seminar that I had to attend. My co-workers based in the area suggested I try out the best burger in town – Earl’s. They had two branches – one in Brgy 1 and the other in Bagasbas Beach. They took us to the one in Bagasbas Beach and I was warned about the ambiance of the food joint. Yep, it looks like a drinking den of some sort. It was dark and everything was rickety or improvised. Tables and chairs are from beer and soda cases, lights were those yellow/orange incandescent. But the food… the food.. are just awesome. (Well the two we’ve ordered anyway!) If I get another invite from this side of the region, I’m sure I’ll be dropping by the other Earl’s branch in town and sample more of their mouthwatering delights.

Brankolei Pizza Italian Vero (David St., Daet)

Here’s another delicious discovery I had during my recent visit in Daet. One of my high school friends is assigned here in Camarines Norte and I decided to contact her while I am still in town. I asked her to take me to the pizza house my co-workers are talking about. So after getting lost finding Allaga and the “furniture” shop, my friend finally decided to meet me near Jollibee Sentro. Brankolei Pizza Italian Vero is actually located in David St. Daet. I think this food joint deserves it’s own blog post!

Other talked about food places in Daet include KSarap and Mario’s (I’m not sure but I know the place’s name starts with the letter M!)

A Dip in Calaguas Turquoise Waters: A First of Many

It’s been a month since Teloyskie moved in with me and we started living a sedentary life. He got summer school and photography workshop for the whole month of April, while mom worked at the adjustment required from a mom. Our world then revolved around one another, his summer classes, mum’s office, adventure time and hotdogs.

Outings were limited to malls, cafes and fast foods until that one fateful invitation – are you going to Calaguas with us? You and Teloyskie?

That fateful day came like a breathe of fresh air. I left the office at noon that Friday. Hurried home and packed my stuff, I was anxious at the getting good seats in the van from Daraga going to Naga and from Naga to Daet, Camarines Norte.

This is my first time to go traipsing with Teloyskie in a place we both don’t know and I thought it would be that easy. Sitting in the jump seat of a cramped van with my kid on my lap and his pack on his lap, my only though was…

“how in the world can they do this and make it all look so flawlessly easy?”

After more or less 5 hours of land travel, we arrived at our destination for the night – Daet, Camarines Norte. We stayed in Pink Diamond Hotel and explored downtown that night. The hotel is more like an apartelle, it has crappy internet connection and cable but it sufficed. Come morning we’ll be off to Calaguas!

We met with our companions at 6AM in Jolibee Daet-Bayan and soon found ourselves in a jeepney bound for Vinzon’s port.

teloyskie’s lifejacket
yawn… are we there yet?
Teloyskie was soo cool about everything and never did he complain about the 2 hour boat travel to Calaguas nor the oversized life jacket that swallowed him whole. He just ate, slept, looked around, slept and woke up when we arrive at our destination.

A Blue so Blue

Ate and I cannot find the exact words to describe the blue, the aquamarine, no the turquoise waters of Calaguas. It was so darn beautiful for words and Teloyskie turned to the temperate clear blue waters at once!

The long stretch of creamy white sand reminded me of Boracay Island. It was so powdery soft that you wouldn’t feel stones poking your soles when you walk around. The only issue we had was it was HOT! It was considered peak season for Calaguas beach camping thus the limited trees on the beach was surrounded with tents wishing for shade. The water was dotted with lots of service boats obscuring what could have been gorgeous view of beach.

There was a multitude of beach combers and the island was full of activity. I suddenly felt a pang of nostalgia for the true blue beach camping experience I had in Anawangin and Nagsasa were you can count the campers in your hands and you prepare all your food from scratch (or from the can/pouch). But that would have been an experience with a capital E for one with tot that keeps vanishing from sight every 10 minutes or so.

Teloyskie spent most of his time playing in the water in the morning, after lunch I successfully convinced him to rest and take a nap for him to re-charge and have more energy for more playing the afternoon. At sundown, asked one local to get us some water for rinsing at P10 per balde. After dinner, we settled down and prepared to sleep. Teloy still is reluctant to do so and make incredulous comments just to irk mommy. I know he’s enjoying this activity and I can see that he’s taking backpacking like a duck to water.

Woke up from a comfortable sleep and settled outside our tent to admire Calaguas at sunrise. My little lion still sleep soundly in the tent, but soon he stirred and stretched. And while he was stretching, he said “Mommy, I’m gonna swim…” so we did.

After brekkie, we spent all our remaining time down the waters and baking “siopaos” and “siomais” in the sand. And even when we are about to leave, ate and I still can’t find the blue that is Calaguas.

Our Calaguas experience was made oh-so-convenient by a local tour operator. Andy and Rocky of Calaguaslocal.com made sure that each and every one of their guest enjoyed Calaguas.

My little backpacker even had the privilege of occupying the “top deck” of the boat to and fro the island.

A Bit Disappointed Merrell Shoe Fan

If I could live with one pair of shoes for a some time, I’d happily choose Merrell shoes. Yes that’s how I love their shoes specifically their “Aqua Sports and Waterpro Maipo” models. My first pair of Merrell’s were bought in 2007. It was very comfortable and I loved wearing it during our free day in the office. After adjusting my schedules in 2008, I started some travels and outdoor adventures with my friends.

I forget the first time I went out of the city exploring wearing my Merrell’s but the first documented picture was taken in June 2008 – during my early backpacking days with my friends in Sta Cruz and Liliw, Laguna. My best friend also brought her first pair of Merrells to use for the trip too. We both love it really.

In late 2008, I encountered a sale in one major department stores and abruptly bought a Merrell Sienna Ruby Sandals. I was really impressed with my shoes and was confident that this sandals will also be comfortable and durable. In 2009, I had a lot of comings and goings to explore more places in the Philippines. I used my Merrells sandals in exploring Bohol in February 2009. And later in June, I also used it for a trip to Coron, Palawan.

In 2010, I became more into outdoor sports and adventures. Being an active member of a dragon boat rowing team, I got invitations to mountain climb and hike. My first major climb was Mt. Pulag, Benguet in February. My almost 3 year old Merrells took me to the summit and brought me back to Manila safely – no blisters no dead toes.

This was followed by a fun trek in Mt Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas in March 2010. I am really very happy with my trusty old Merrells. It was in July, during our Mt Tarak climb in Bataan that my favorite shoes was tested to redemption. I felt my shoes loosening up a bit, something is just not right. I was worried the soles would give in before we come down, still my trusty ole shoes made it and accompanied me back to Manila. But the soles were really giving out. I didn’t worry though. My shoes had served me only too well during the past 3 and half years.

My friend suggested I take my abused shoes to a shoe repair and have the soles stitched. It worked and I was able to use it for a couple of months (Aug-Dec 2010) until I bought my next pair in Dec 2010. It was a new version of my Merrells aquasports, this time it’s called the Waterpro Maipo.

It looks really good and once again I was happy with it. I haven’t had a lot of mountain climbing since then though, but it was what I used for jogging and light running and a bit of trekking in Biak na Bato National Park in Nov 2011.

biak na bato national park

My Waterpro Maipro was more for city slicking because it was really comfortable and I can move freely with it. Just recently in June 2012, I was able to use it for trekking once again in Sagada. I brought my two Merrells wth me there, the Sandals for exploring the caves and the shoes for trekking to Pongas Falls.

trek to-fro Pongas Falls, Suyo, Sagada 2012

After that, my Merrells are back to their city slicking use. After being thoroughly impressed and confident with the comfort and durability over my shoe brand, imagine me rushing one morning, pulling on my shoe laces to tighten it as I would normally do and experiencing a sudden snap! (mental calculations: uh-oh, what happened? what will I wear now? the chucks, its a long walk to my school. This shoes is not even 2 years yet and it wasn’t as abused as my first!)

I watched the strap slowly beginning to loosen its strands. I hurriedly took a lighter to tamper it. I started sewing them together too while disappointment started to settle in. I don’t want to wear the chucks or the adi running shoes. I hope this hold until November when I can buy a new pair.

I think I will still buy another Merrells but not this kind anymore. The straps are vulnerable and looking at the others, they might soon snap too, I’m also looking at buying those five finger shoes instead. 😀

Baguio Budget Escape: Food Trip in the City of Pines

It was a quiet Friday evening when our housemate, who hails from Baguio City announced that she’s driving alone to Baguio early in the morning. Out of nowhere, Baba and I decided to join her on a road trip. With a couple of clothes and 5K budget, we hit the road at 4am the next day.

The drive was uneventful, we stopped by Sison, Pangasinan to eat something and we’re a little disappointed that Kenon Rd was closed so we had to take the much longer route via Marcos Highway.

We reached Baguio City at around 9am. Baba and I declined Ate Maricar’s invitation to stay in their house and searched for cheap Baguio City accommodations instead. We found La Brea along Session Road and made reservations for 2 nights. We did not prepare any IT and made this trip a completely spontaneous one. We just noted recommendations and jump into what we have in mind next.

After freshening up, we headed to Glenn’s 50s Diner in General Luna Road in front of Brent Road  for our late lunch. The ambiance is great and they have big servings of food. Baba loved his Swimmers while my Schintzel was just okay.

waitresses at 50’s diner wear sailor uniforms!

we love their coffee here

Baba’s Swimmers – 3 seafood delights in sweet-spicy sauce
schnitzel for me (okay lang)
ka-table namin c Marilyn Monroe!
the red car parked outside 50’s diner

After lunch, we decided to walk back and pay visit to the Cathedral and offer prayers of thanks. Then we played corny and headed for Burnham Lake for some rowing action.

can’t believe these oars are so heavy!!
should have tried those paddle boats instead

It was raining on and off and we were tired. We couldn’t think of anything to eat for dinner just yet so we headed for SM Baguio and waited for the rain to stop. We stayed at the veranda and was awed when the fog enveloped the city.

Then we walked to Session Road where there are more choices when it comes to foodtripping. We ended up at one of my friend’s favorite Pizza place – Pizza Volante. The place looks unorganized and seems to be a series of expansions – might be because of the growing number of diners. They have great pizza and pasta choices here – the price is also just right for students on a budget.

love this cheeze burger pizza!

Baba suggested we eat only light dinner tonight because he wants a nightcap at one of the bars we passed by earlier. It’s called the Bohemian and they have angelic acoustic singers here. We had a basket of fresh potato fries and a bucket of beer to end the night…

frothy milk! 😀

a basket of potatoes

lassheeng Baba?

Day 2 of our Baguio Trip was spent at the Manor, Good Shepherd and Lourdes Grotto. Blog soon 🙂

7 Things I Prepare for When Backpacking

Following backpacking blogs by Filipino travel bloggers simply puts me into vagabonding mode. They’re all awe-inspiring, motivational and passion-driving. You can’t help but admire their guts and how they managed to attain their world-weary statuses. I’ve also longed for exploring countries other than my own. I enjoy exploring around the Ph and managed to see places, sights and scenes that not many are blessed to witness.

twosome travelers

Reading from different travel blogs seems to caution would-be traveler on the many unexpected things on the road. And of course, preparedness on these things is the key. So, when you travel do –

1.  Prepare to get lost.
One of the best challenges of backpacking is exploring unknown and unfamiliar places. Load up on info about your destinations and keep your wits handy at all times.

2. Prepare to get down and dirty.

Generally, backpacking conjure up images of muddy, dirty and smelly-looking travelers with full-packed backpacks(but that’s optional actually). Exploring the world this way may mean that you have to leave luxuries and comforts of your home to experience the sights, culture and people of some foreign land despite your lack of budget.

3. Prepare to be shocked/frustrated.

In most cases, what you hope for doesn’t really happen. There are things, events and people that will truly test your tolerance. Always look at the brighter side of things in such occasions.

wandered around Maharlika Market instead when Typhoon Mina stopped my ascent to Sagada, Mt. Province in Aug 2011.

4. Prepare to be unconventional.

Being in a place where everything seems soo unfamiliar will require you to make adjustments. Even if it means that you have to give up what you’re comfortable with and what you’re used to do and just make do with what’s available.

sleep here? yes, here.

5. Prepare to welcome strange new sights, smells, tastes and culture.

Part of traveling is try out local food and delicacies from places you visit. Some also join community immersion to learn more about the culture and beliefs of the people. And of course, you can help but drink in some of the loveliest sights nature has created for us. 

Balut

Igorot Women of North Luzon

shy Mt. Mayon
smelly Marang in Davao City

6. Prepare to be intoxicated.

Traveling can be a heady and intoxicating experience. And I’m not talking about alcoholic drinks here. (though night outs are also fun when you’re in a new place).

7. Prepare to fall in love – need I say more?

Traveling has a lot of risks, and depending how you prepare for the things on the road, you’d find yourself surprised countless times. Either way, don’t panic and simply enjoy these experience – good or bad – and adjust your preparedness level for the next leg of your journey.

Tsinelas Festival 2009, Liliw Laguna

I know sooner or later, I’d be able to realize my wish to explore other countries in Asia. Most specifically “the banana pancake trail” as claimed by many western backpackers. While still unsure when or where I’ll start with my greatest Asian Backpacking dream, I simply savor the moments and experiences I had while travelling the Philippines. I do not consider myself as a seasoned traveler, but I’m proud to have visited the places I’ve been to so far and I would always look forward to the places I’d go to in the future.

Surfing in Baler, Aurora: A Novice Experience

wave rider
Baler Sunset

A trip to Baler will never be complete without riding the waves. Our first day in Baler was spent exploring other towns and views around Sabang beach. It ended with us four lounging and just people watching at the beach. We were all amazed at how those little girls can surf like a pro, and we all looked forward to trying it out the next day.


Dinner took hundred years to arrive at Bay’s Inn, afterwards we headed to Bay-ler for a night cap. Baler was full packed that time and there were only a couple of establishments that were still open at late night. We finished off early slept in preparation for next day’s activity.

Baler Sunrise and Mahdox Surf School

Sabang Beach, Baler, Aurora


Before our trip to Baler, I asked one of my friends for a recommendation on where to find the best surf instructors in the Baler and he gave us Mahdox Surf School and Surf Shop. According to him, this is the only place to go when you want to learn surfing in Baler. Mahdox is actually the first registered surf school and shop n Baler and it is owned by one of the Philippines’ top ranking surfers – Okoy Rojo. They got a team of friendly, professionals and expert surf instructors to give you personalized and one-on-one coaching.

We scheduled our 1 hour surf class and we started right away. It was a first for all of us and we dreaded doing it on water. Each of us have our own instructors and gave us our needed push and encouragement each time big wave comes.

 

batang baler1

batang baler2

Mahdox Surf Shop and School – 0910.307.5253

All of us learned and enjoyed surfing in Baler. We all made it and were able stand  on our surf boards before our time was up.

Why Surfing in Baler is a Must?

Baler can be considered as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines. It’s clean coastline is open to the Pacific, thus beautiful waves is ever present anytime of the year. In 1979, the movie Apocalypse Now has parts filmed in Baler. It offer different surfer levels surfing points to match their levels. Sabang Beach has perfect waves for beginners, while Cemento Beach have stronger waves for the adventurous and experienced  surfers. Charlie’s Point was made famous in the movie’s surf scene.

The production crew of the movie left their boards with the locals thus, surfing started in this province.

How to go to Baler (from Manila) and Back?

Baler, the capital of Aurora maybe reach through direct trips with Genesis Bus via Joy Bus and their regular air-con buses.

Joy Bus schedules are 12MN and 0430 from Cubao Station.
Reservation nos. (02) 709 – 0545 or 709 – 0544
Fare: P650 one-way

We were not able to get a reservation for Joy Bus and made do with their regular air-con buses bound for Baler.

Regular Bus Schedules are – 0100, 0200, 0430 and 0530.
Fare: P450 one-way

Others may also take buses to Casiguran, Aurora via Baler which travel at 0100 and 0300.

Going back to Manila, we were not able to reserve or find a Genesis Bus schedule that will suit our IT, so we decided to take another risk and head for Cabanatuan via vans plying the Baler-Cabanatuan route and just find Buses there going to Manila.

Vans from Baler to Cabanatuan travel frequently. Fares are around P220 and travel time is about 4 hours. From Cabanatuan, there are many buses that you can take such as ES transport, Five Star and Baliwag Transit.

Baler: There’s More Than Just Surfing!

A private message from one of my high school classmates gave way to this trip. We were 3 girls but I wanted to bring along my partner for him to experience what I love doing – travel.

There were a lot of “palpak” and “sablay” while the day of the trip come nearer. Joy Bus was fully booked and most of the accommodations and hotels we contacted were also full. The 4 of us were determined to push this through and on the night of 18 May, we took the regular trip of Genesis Bus (Cubao) to Baler. The trip took 10 hours and the fare – P450 (more or less).
|Day 1

Sabang Beach in the morning
We arrived in Baler at around 8 in the morning and hoped to make a reservation for Joy Bus trip back to Manila. Having no other trips that fits our schedule for our trip back, we decided to just take a risk and travel to Cabanatuan first for more buses going to Manila. We walked to Sabang beach from Genesis terminal and started looking for our accommodations. We ended up at Elaine M&M Lodge and paid P1300 for a room that accommodated the 4 of us.  
After freshening up, we headed to Bayler View for breakfast. After which we scoured for the cheapest tour tricycle tour rate we could find. They all asked for P800 per tricycle to take us to Mother Falls, Centennial Tree and others we could cover for that day.
been years since we last enjoyed soda from these plastic bags
Millennium  Tree 
They first took us to the gigantic Balete Tree in Maria, Aurora. We took the challenge of climbing it up along with kids who seemed to have made a hobby of crawling and climbing up the tree like monkeys. It was a great experience and a first for all of us.



Ditumabo Falls (Mother Falls)

The trek was fun and easy. You can hear the sounds of flowing water and the sounds that small animals and insects make.


There were slippery spots on the trail but overall it was refreshing and you get rewarded with the sight of one of most majestic waterfalls. We all enjoyed the trek and the dip on the freezing pool. 

After that we were really hungry and we wanted to eat along the way. But our guides and drivers said that there are no place or stores near the sites we’re going to visit where we can eat. So we decided to take just 2 more sites and head for the town to eat our late lunch. 
Diguisit Beach
Our guides took us next to a beach but we were really starving to pay much attention to it’s name. We were already in Diguisit and the sights of islets and rock formations are stunningly beautiful from the road. There was a small swimming area but this beach has a very rocky shoreline. 

There are no stores here so people who wanted to swim just bring their own food. Passed by Diguisit Falls and decided not to climb up. Our guides still wanted to bring us up to Ermita Hill but we declined and so we just headed to town to eat and explore other places of interest.

Museo de Baler

After our late lunch, we walked around town with our guides to explore and know more about Baler.

Baler is very rich in history. Before Aurora became a province, it was a part of the province of Quezon. Both President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife Aurora was born in Baler. Baler also was an active participant in the galleon trade during the colonial times.

The Museum was under renovation during that time, but the staff welcomed us warmly and apologized fervently for the inconvenience. Also inside the ground of the museum is the exact replica of Quezon’s Family home.

Aurora’s Home

Our last destination for the tour was Aurora Quezon’s home downtown. They were considered wealthy during those time. Quezon’s presidential car was also parked here.

We also passed by the church and gave short prayer of thanks for this opportunity to travel and enjoy the company of each other.

We headed back to our room and decided to rest. It was a tiring but satisfying day of exploration. We are beginning to fall for the beauty of Baler. 

Sagada’s Cave Connection: Tough Adventures for Tough Love

Highlight of our Sagada Trip – Cave Exploration



Sagada was my no. 1 destination for a solo trip experiment last year. I’ve been planning for it for so long before as a form of escape and sojourn to heal my heartache. But “force majure” in the form of Typhoon Mina stop my ascent to this Shangri-la Town last year, and so I’ve embraced the thought that I may never travel solo to Sagada. 

cable bus tours travels daily and leaves manila at 830pm at it’s QC Terminal
Stopover somewhere in Banaue













The cause of “heartache” back then, now became my partner and soon, the planned trip to Sagada was once again played out and realized. The 12 hours travel via Cable Bus Tours from Manila to Bontoc plus the 45mins. jeepney ride from Bontoc to Sagada was well rewarded with enchanting mountainous sights and cool air.





our breakfast at Bontoc before proceeding to Sagada

We arrived early and settled ourselves at Residential Lodge (09196728744) and find the office of Saggas (http://sagadagenuineguides.blogspot.com/) a few steps away. We made arrangement for the Cave connection right after lunch. Then we proceeded to Salt and Pepper Diner for our first taste of Sagada’s cooking. I ordered for Sinarabasab which is actually half-cooked grilled pork – much like kilawin with a lot of ginger and my partner wanted some fresh veggies and settled for a bowl of delicious ChopSuey. 



Sagada Adventure 1: Cave Connection

30 minutes after lunch, we met with Kevin Luna, our guide for the Cave Connection Tour. We’d be exploring 2 caves – the Lumiyang and Sumaging Cave and they say this takes about 4-6 hours – tough but we survived and enjoyed this the most. 

Our guide gave us suggestions on how we can save and we settled for walking to the first cave opening – Lumiyang cave. We also stopped by burial sites and explained the beliefs and traditions that Sagada have for the dead. Lumiyang Cave had us doing serious stunts and many times, the group ahead us stalled us because of many of them wanted to give up. 

hanging coffins among pine trees in limestone krasts in the background
coffins in the cave – this is what welcomes you at the mouth of Lumiyang cave
Kevin, our guide preparing our light
the descent to one of the Philippines deepest cave system


According to our guide, it is best to limit to taking pictures while exploring Lumiyang cave. This cave is slippery and dangerous to a point. You need to be attentive and careful at all times.  


After the toughest cave adventure in Lumiyang, we were rewarded with wonderful rock formations and easier ascent to Sumiyang Cave exit.

A truly rewarding experience

super duper cold water – to borrow chyng’s words: giniginaw lungs ko!

jumpshot daw 😀
cave art



The Sumaging-Lumiyang Cave connection was truly a challenge that pushed us to do the unthinkable and reach beyond our limits. We were happy to have Kevin as our guide, he was funny and patient with us and took wonderful photos throughout the tour. I think he enjoyed having us around as well. 



 We walked back to town and realize that the clouds have come down. We were really craving for a hot shower and luckily, we had a hot tub and hot water in our room. We were  wet and cold and the aches are starting to make their presence known. I remembered Titit’s advise to bring Omega pain killer or Effecascent Oil for this purpose, but we don’t have any. Luckily, the store in front of Residential are selling these two, I think many travelers has been buying these pain relievers as well.

exiting the caves after 4 hours. nope di po kami pagod.

the sight that met us as we walked back to town
chicken something for me
spicy beef curry for him


We rewarded ourselves with a hearty dinner at the Yogurt House after the hot bath and massage.  Slept thinking what’s in store for us the next day. Hope all the body aches vanish in the morning.



 

CouchSurfing: Meeting Legazpi CSurfers

Been reading a lot of how much Couchsurfing had made a difference in many travel blogger’s experiences. I signed up for this couchsurfing.org in 2010 but I wasn’t really active and I didn’t even have an updated profile there.

This year, while religiously reading some hot-shot travel bloggers’ stories, I decided to make use of that long forgotten CS account and maybe do some surfing as I travel around and maybe invite surfers too.

I posted on trip to my hometown and got a cool surprise – i got an invite to stay with them. It was quite funny actually but I decided to meet her and her fellow CSer too. I got an even cooler surprise seeing these 2 Couchsurfers from my hometown – they were in fact, schoolmates from HighSchool!

I considered him my little bro back in HS. I was really surprised he’s a well-traveled guy now!
Couchsurfer’s from Legazpi

I thought of using CS more after that meet up. Who knows how I might meet next time? 🙂