Monday, April 22, 2013

Surfing in Baler, Aurora

Baler is said to be the surfing capital of the Philippines maybe because it is the first place that Pinas surfing was born. According to the residence it was started when the movie Apocalypse was shot in the area.

The most challenging part here is the reservation of the bus, well, you have three options, the first one is the Genesis’s Joybus, their luxury bus going to Baler the other one is the standard bus and the last one is the split trip, you have to get on a bus going to Cabanatuan and from there you need another ride to Baler

If you want to have a comfortable journey you need to reserve a slot in Joybus a month before your trip, it is spacious indeed and it also provides snack for their passengers and even a blanket. (don’t forget to bring jacket, aircondition is so cold)and it also has comfort room on board because it doesn’t have stop over. The travel time is 4-5 hours. They have 3 trips in a day 12:30am 1:30am and 3:30am.

If you are not lucky enough to get a slot in Joybus and you still want to pursue they still have the standard bus and it is airditioned as well.

We had the first trip which is 12:30am, the trip was smooth and you will not notice the travel time since all passengers were asleep. We arrived at the terminal at 5:00am. From terminal you have to ride a tricycle to sabang front beach for 12php each. We headed straight to Bay’s Inn restaurant since they said it is the only place that is open at early morning. They offer breakfast buffet for 150php each only, all the foods were delicious (SULIT!)

We still don’t have a place to stay so we tried our luck and find a lodge in the vicinity and luckily we still got a vacant room in Surfer Girls Lodge for 1,300 2pax and air conditioned, it does have tv too. For a group who is travelling for a limited budget we found a decent homestay in June Samano Homestay for just 1,500 for 5 pax and it is also airconditioned with private comfort room.

After settling down and catching some rest we rented a surf board and hired an instructor since it was our first time

Surf board 200php/hour

Instructor 150php/hour

But you can rent a board for half day or whole day if you can already be on yourself.

After a surfing lesson we went on a tour to the Mother Falls and Balete Tree. All the means of transportation here is tricycle, you can’t see any jeepney on the road actually, so we hired a tricycle and a driver whose name is King to give us a tour for 800php, since we are four in group we just paid 200php per head.

The falls is 30 minutes away from Sabang and when we got to the jump off we need to trek for an hour to the main attraction. Once we reached the falls it looks majestic J and the water is so cold but still tolerable.

After that we went straight to Balete Tree and can you believe it the age of the tree is 600! Mother of all trees ha ha! You can even go inside of it and for more adventure climb at the top of the tree.

For our dinner we went to the famous Gerry Shan’s restaurant you can have an eat all you can buffet for only 180php and the food were also delightful and right after that we went to Bayler View to have some drinks.

There is ongoing surfing competition when we are in Baler so it is really fun watching the pros surfing especially with the first timers like us.

To maximize the stay you can still surf in the morning which has the best waves. And right after that we packed our things and had our lunch at rolling store they were the cariderias at the town proper and since our bus will leave at 3:00pm and it is still early we managed to take a tour in Baler Museum and Donya Aurora Quezon House and it is for free! All I can say is our free time is well spent :D Thanks anyway to Boy 2 for the tour and your action star stories :D

Will visit again Baler for sure, it gave us new adventure and new friends as well. And another amusing thing is that you can see the camaraderie in the place and their warm welcome to their guests even if they are from different places.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Places I want to visit: Philippines

Definitely I want to visit all the provinces in the Philippines

Hope that I will cross out all of them some day :)

Potipot, Candelaria Zambales

If you want to have a camping adventure you must try to visit the Potipot Island in Zambales. It’s a 5-6 hour drive from Manila.

You can ride a bus going straight to Sta. Cruz Zambales, Victory Liner Caloocan have the first trip to Sta. Cruz at 4:00 am, we arrived at the terminal at 3:30 am but there’s already a long line for Sta. Cruz bus, since we really can’t make it for the sta. Cruz bus we just rode the bus going to Iba Zambales. When arrived at Iba, we rode again an ordinary bus going to Sta.Cruz until we reached our Inn.

We stayed at Alta Nina Resort and the negotiation went well with Ms. Nina but we got a little disappointed with the service of her care taker, he’s not very accommodating like what we expect based on the reviews on the internet but the place is quite relaxing, they have a kitchen and grill place that you can use but you will be charge for it.

Potipot was just a small island, you can choose if you want to spend your night camping at the island or you will just have a day tour.

Island Rates

200 overnight

100 day tour

In our case we booked two rooms at a hotel but we spent our night at the island. So if you want to pay cheaper and you are fully armed with camping tools you have the choice of not booking a room if you want a more relaxing trip you can also try what we did after all the long drive we went straight to the accommodation and took a nap to rest, cooked food for lunch and for our baon at the island.

You can visit their market nearby for food. We forgot to bring containers for food but we managed to purchase some at the market as well. By the way, we got the number of the tricycle driver that sent us to Alta Nina so we just texted him when we are about to buy food in the market.

After preparing and all, at around 5:30pm we went to the island with our tents for an overnight. We planned to have a bonfire but unluckily, it rained L

Day 2

We woke up with a majestic view of the island. The sunrise and the coastal line made the view dramatic so we didn’t waste our time and enjoyed the white sand and the beach.

Since it was just a small island you can stroll and walk around and appreciate the scenery altogether. And while we are walking we saw our high schoolmates at the place as well.

We found out that there is a comfort rooms at the middle of the island so you can really stay here even without booking a hotel.

At around noon we went back to Alta Nina to freshen up and we also took a long rest before heading back to manila.

When we got to Victory Liner terminal, the bus going to Manila already left and the next trip will be in 3 hours, since it is too late for me and my boyfriend because we still have work tomorrow we decided to take a bus going to Olongapo and from there we took the last trip to Cubao that night.

It was indeed a long trip but we all had fun J

Pictures soon to upload :)



How to organize a hassle free trip

1.       Choose a place.

If it’s in the Philippines you can never get enough of beautiful places here. Try the most accessible places first.

2.       Research

Read articles on the internet about the place so you will not miss any attraction and activities that you can do for the trip.

3.       Cut the expense, Invite people

The more the merrier and truly way cheaper J it is really ideal for organizing a trip since you have a great number of participants, more people will split the expenses. You can always create an event in Facebook to have a wide discussion for the trip.

4.       Give timeframe, choose a date

Once you already have the list of participants choose a possible dates for the outing and make them vote which date is the most ideal for all. Make sure that you will give them time to prepare financially, give consideration for the pay day J

5.       Call and book.

This is the most challenging part, you really have to exert effort to find a decent place to stay, but remember, you will not go to that place to spend all of your time in the hotel, most of the time, you will be out to enjoy the place, the only use of the hotel is for sleeping so don’t look for the most expensive hotel, try to minimize the expenses. Consider the proximity as well.

6.       Get the final list.

When you already found a decent place to stay that can accommodate all of the tentative participants before depositing down payment get the final list first and;

7.       Collect and secure

After getting the price of hotel and other transportation such as van, boat, bus, and all other things that has fixed price, sum it up and divide it equally, post it on the Facebook event you created. And to secure the money give them options to deposit their share, you can always give them a bank account number, remittance center or if possible they can give it in cash. Make an agreement that it is non-refundable to eliminate the stress that last minute back out people will give you. On this set up, once they gave the money they will be more hesitant to back out.

8.       Update

Always inform them about the reservation and any other changes and issues that will occur after that, you are all good to go J


Have a happy trip J


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hundred Islands Alaminos, Pangasinan

According to a native of Alaminos the exact number of islands there is 123 and not 100 that makes oooohh for us J

This trip is the most stressful for me, the original plan is for 10-13 pax so I already reserved a place that can accommodate the group. When everything was already set and I already deposited the down payment back out stories starting to say hello. At the end, 13 pax cut down to 6 pax.
Here is our Itinerary for the Hundred Islands Trip 2 days 1 night
Day 1
12:00 am              Assembly Time
01:00 am              Snack at Mcdonalds
01:45 am              Departure
06:00 am              Arrival at the transient
06:30 am              breakfast
07:30 am              Rest
10:30 am              Preparing for the activity
11:00 am              Lunch time
11:30 am              Let the adventure begin J
05:30 pm              Done with the activity
06:00 pm              Back to transient. Freshen up
08:00 pm              dinner
09:00 pm              TV time
10:30 pm              drinking session at the rooftop
12:30 pm              sleep

Day 2
10:30 am              Preparing for travel back to manila
01:30 am              Lunch
02:30 pm              Departure to Manila
02:15     Stop over to Alaminos market to buy pasalubong
02:45     Travel
07:00     Dinner at NLEX Mega Caltex
08:00     Dinner ended
09:00     Arrival in Manila

Expenses Breakdown

Accommodation               Veronica Hauschild Transient                      2,750 php
Food                                      Food Court near port                                     240 php (B,L,D,L)
Boat                                       Service for 6pax                                                                1,600 php
Gas                                        manila-alaminos v.v.                                       3,000 php
Tollgate                                                vice versa                                                            563 php

                                                                                                Expense               8,153 php / 6
                                                                                                Total                      1,358 per person
Optional items

Gears                                    snorkel/lifevest/shoes                                  200/set
                                                Lifevest/shoes                                                  100/set

The accommodation is quite decent, it has 2 bedrooms, fully air-conditioned, television, wifi, kitchen that you can use and a private bathroom but the service is disappointing. The owner is insisting that she told me about the extension charge, that she texted those details days before our trip but I still have all of her text messages and it doesn’t have the details she is pertaining to, I talked to her for the nth times on the phone but she didn’t told me anything about it. Although the place is good I will not recommend this one for accommodation, good service still my priority.
We rented the boat thru the transient owner and we chose to have the service boat for us to maximize our time for island hopping.

There are three major islands on the place, the first one is the Governor’s Island where you will see the Pinoy Big Brother House that used by Teen Edition 1. It has a short trek to the top but the view is worth it, you can see the group of islands around the place.

The second one is the Quezon Island and it was my favorite because it has a cliff diving area my body is shaking while preparing myself to jump but then the thrill is priceless once you jumped J

Before going to the last Major Island we stopped at a snorkelling site nearby. There are loads of colourful fishes on the site and we even saw the giant clams.

The last island is the Marcos Island wherein you can camp overnight and you have to pay 200 per head. It is somewhat commercialized than the two and the largest too. This island is more on beach type, it has restroom and wide area intended for eating and resting.

Even though I had a stressful time arranging all of this we went home in high spirits as we made our travel back home a concert inside the car. “OH MY GOD WE’RE BACK AGAIN!!”

Never stop traveling for you to explore the book of the world and don’t be stuck in just a page J

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sagada adventure guide

We went to Sagada, Mt. Province around mid of January 2012. We heard a lot of good stories about the place so we decided to check it by ourselves. That was our first DIY (do-it-yourself) trip so far and we don’t have any reservations for the accommodation.

We rode a bus in Cubao heading to Baguio at 12 midnight and we arrived at 6:00 am.

From the terminal beside the SM City Baguio, we rode a taxi to terminal beside the center mall. One good thing about baguio is their low flag down rate in taxi so we just paid not more than 50php.

 The buses there were small and old and it is not air conditioned.

When we got at the GL terminal we rode again a bus and this time it is the direct trip to Sagada.

Almost 80% of the passengers were foreigners and tourists like us J

Bus         Manila – Baguio                                445php
               Baguio – Sagada                               230php
Taxi        to GL terminal                                    50php
Hotel     Traveller’s Inn                                    200php/night/pax
Cave Connection                                             400php/pax
Whole day Tour with Van                             3,000php/van

it’s really a long drive we stopped over a place where you can buy food, use the rest room and stretch a bit. It is called Morning star.

We arrived in Sagada around 12:15noon. Since we don’t have any contact with the hotels we just tried our luck and walk along the street and then we saw the Traveller’s Inn and thank God they still have a vacant room. It was a long weekend and we arrived before the place gets crowded.

Traveller’s Inn only have a common restroom and it doesn’t have air condition as well, (well you will need a heater rather than air condition in Sagada, the weather was not just cold, it is freezing!!!)

We settled ourselves and went outside for lunch. The first restaurant that we tried was the famous Yoghurt House. The food was quiet pricy but I love their yoghurt cake that costs 50php per tiny slice.

Just beside the restaurant you will see the SAGGAS office, they are the official tour guides in Sagada. They offered the cave connection as our first activity. We thought that it will just be a typical tour where will just visit and go but for our surprise it was like trekking down under but of course it is called caving.

It will take 2-3 hours to finish the activity and you need to walk along the rocks, swing on the rope, pull and lift your body the hardest you can and love yourself and be cautious because you are walking at the cliff edges (remember it’s a cave and the only light you’re going to have is the gazera). But at the other end of the cave all the energy that you lose will be worth it.

They have incredible rock formations around the place but it is different from the formations in underground river Palawan. They were color brown and the people have their label in every formation like king’s curtain, the teeth, chocolate cake, and etc. The rocks were rough in general but it doesn’t look like that.

After the cave connection we headed back to traveller’s inn and had dinner at the restaurant across called Salt and Pepper. Although the accommodations were cheap around Sagada, when it comes to food it’s a different story. But you can also cook your own food at the hotel’s kitchen area.

We met people whose on vacation like us and since the van have a fixed rate per van for the whole day tour we decided to share the trip with them to pay cheaper.

At exactly 5:30 am we headed to a place where they are doing those rituals and wait for the sunrise. It’s is a perfect place for sight-seeing activity and because it is freaking cold we lit up a bonfire while waiting for the sunshine. 

After that, we also went to orange farm, rock farm, and. At around 10:30am we went trekking, we literally trailed the rice terraces down to Bomod-ok falls and when we got there we were amazed by the magnificence of the nature and as soon as we tried to swim we jumped back because the water is chilly, you were like swimming in an ice cold pool and you can’t stay on the water for even half an hour. In my case I was able to hold the crazy temperature for just 5minutes.

Later, we went back to the town to have our lunch to prepare for the main attraction, the hanging coffins in echo valley.

As the name implies, it was called the echo valley because anything that you’re going to say, the valley will bounce back the sound. Literal huh? J

On the way to the valley you will see a cemetery and I stopped with one grave stone because the name imprinted is obviously not a Filipino or tribal name, a boy saw me staring at the tombstone and he said that it was a tourist way back that had a heart failure (if can remember it clearly), I asked him why he was not sent back to Hawaii with his family and the boy grin as he spoke, “they don’t want him back anymore” and suddenly I felt sad for that person.

Not too far from the cemetery we saw a lot of tourists all zooms their camera lenses to see the highlight of the trip, the hanging coffins. But we are not satisfied in peeking far from it so we asked our tour guide if we can go near the coffins, he said it is up to us if wereally want to, it is optional and it is not included on the tour we paid for so we pay him additional hundred.

It was a quick trek, we trailed down and before we know it we already in front of the coffins! Yes! My dream!! Another dream fulfilled!!!.
Kuya Andrew said that the coffin on lower side of the blue one labeled for Bomit-Og was just a week old.

Not anyone can be buried like this, only those who were included on the upper class family on their tribe are allowed. If you notice there are wooden chairs that were hanged and tied up with the coffins, it was the exact chair that the corpse were mummified, they were formed sitting for few days before they were buried, some calls it as “death chair”.

When we are about to go back since our tour ended, we saw these super charming toddlers playing around and picking up flowers, I can’t help it so we asked their parents if we can take a picture with them. We really can’t understand their language since they were French but they happily agreed with our request. After that we went back to the hotel for some rest for a really tiring but excellent day for us.

On our last day, we walked and went to another famous café in town, the Lemon Pie House. We had our breakfast there. The ambiance and interior of the café were enticing and it is very relaxing in deed.

We ran for the last trip at around 12:30noon and we arrived back in Cubao at past 12 midnight.

For additional experience, some random foreigners get on our bus and they were on a race, Amazing Race perhaps.

We really had fun with the surprise activities and information we had experienced in this particular trip.

I will definitely recommend this place for a nature and trip.

More pictures :))

ukay-ukay are everywhere

traditional coffin in Sagada

Those isolated coffins were women died in giving birth, they believe that their soul or body were not clean and pure

Just got real :)

Typical sunday in Sagada Market

we also visited a pottery

the cheapest blueberry in the Philippines