Monday, January 25, 2016

The Picturesque Mayon Volcano

Travel to Legaspi without any fuss…
         How long do you plan before you travel? Maybe the favorable weather served a purpose to let us travel on a whim to Legaspi. So, without any fuss, we made a reservation for 6 people via Penafrancia at 9:00 p.m. to head to Legaspi.
Me, Amel, Ursula, Pareng Oscar and Mareng Lisa heading to Legaspi.
Ferren and I, Amel, Mareng Lisa, and Ursula heading to Legaspi.
With the knowledge that it's going to be a long twelve-hour trip, I preferred to reserve a de luxe bus with a comfort room in consideration to our age especially me, who needs to go to the comfort room often. 

When we thought we were getting nearer, we asked one another how much more time to get to our destination. We opened our eyes widely when the sun was up as we anticipated to view Mayon volcano. A glimpse of the volcano, though its tip is still covered by clouds, already gave an impression of incredible beauty. The mountain followed us all through out the moment we got a glimpse of it.
 A glimpse of Mayon volcano, though its tip is still covered by clouds, already gave us an impression of its incredible beauty.
A peek of Mayon Volcano brings to my memory when my family climbed Taal Volcano. My kids were faster than us to reach the top of the crater. When they were at the top, they breathlessly ran around the crater yelling, “Mom, it’s beautiful up here!” When I was finally at the top of the slim edge of the crater, I was afraid to move or even take a breath. I held my kids tight and calmly uttered, “Yes, indeed. It’s beautiful” as I slowly dragged them down away from the very deep bowl-shape mouth of the volcano. I realized afterwards that they could have fallen down into the deep pit. But, thanks God, I was early enough!

I have also trekked up to the crater of Mount Pinatubo. The sight  beyond description of the Pinatubo crater and the land formations it left from the effects of eruption are still fresh in my mind. Up until now, I somehow cannot reconcile destruction (How many people die due to volcano eruptions?) and magnificence (The splendid land formations formed from volcano eruption.) because these two words are opposites. 

Finally, we arrived Legaspi around 9:00 A.M. at the bus station. And there, our friend, Amor was already waiting for us. His residence is just a stone’s throw away from the bus station.
Amor and Chona welcomed us warmly at their home.
We had a superb accomodation.

Amor and Chona welcomed us warmly at their home.
Friends never forget memories they had together.

Amor : Ayaw akong isama ni Oscar sa panliligaw noon.
Us      : Bakit?
Amor: Kasi pag isinasama niya ako, ako na ang ginugusto ng nililigawan   niya!
Us     : Hahaha. Ibig mong sabihin, hearthrob ka? 

Mayon Volcano is the most active volcano in the Philippines. We were very fortunate that its almost perfect cone-shape showed up during the entire time we were in Legaspi. We were able to capture its immensity! 

You can view its magnificence at Chona and Amor’s rooftop. What a beautiful sight! But on the contrary, Chona vented the destruction it bequeaths to the residence when it erupts. It creates fright and sympathy for the people living at the foot of the mountain.
The fiery look of Mount Mayon taken at Amor and Chona's rooftop.
A view of Mount Mayon taken at Amor and Chona's rooftop.
After our sumptuous lunch, Amor and Chona drove us around the beautiful sights. First, to Mayon Skyline. What a picturesque volcano! It seemed so near that you’d want to climb to the top.

Picture Perfect!

After our trip to Mayon Skyline, we drove to Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga, Albay. Here, you see the ruins of the church that was destroyed from the eruption of Mount Mayon in 1814. Many parishioners believed to have sought refuge in this church but perished from the falling boulders when it erupted. I was saddened to hear about the tragedy but at the same time pacified once I looked at the majestic beauty of the near perfect-cone volcano. 

"When you're in Bicol, be cool!"

To end the day, Amor and Chona treated us to dinner at Costa Palmera Resort.
We had a perfect dinner - fried chicken, laing, Bicol express, sinigang na tanigue, and pansit. 
The following day was more exciting. We got ready early for a sailboat ride adventure. We traveled through the winding road to the sailboat dockside.
Thank you Amor and Chona for the
sailboat experience. 

There is none to equate the genuine camaraderie among us. We enjoyed the magnificent scenery, fun and adventure!
Ursula has just accepted a long time offer to be the next magazine cover. She was really game! (You can request more photos of her should you desire. hehe)

What is a picnic by the beach without food, food and friends? Totally happy for being together!

We gave in to Amor and Chona's 'persuasion' (hehe). We followed them without regret and ended up tasting the life of the rich!

We passed through the posh Misibis Bay Resort.
What are friends for in times when you need him most?
In front of Amor and Chona's residence. 
"To say thank you and goodbye mean no plans of going back." So, see you again in the near future. 

Philippines is indeed a haven of nature. I wish more visitors would come to see the splendid sights that our country offers. 

Please feel free to give any comment, reaction or feedback. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trip ko lang sa El Nido

El Nido Blew My Mind

El Nido, has the characteristics coalesce of Puerto Princesa (PP) and Coron, all located in Palawan where you find rocks, magnificent picturesque limestone cliffs, pristine clear water, rich coral fauna and powdery-sand beaches. If you ask me which of the three islands is my favorite, I would say, “It’s hard to tell.” Each island has a lasting impression of beauty that is worth remembering. I had a wonderful experience of the three islands. When I was in PP, I thought there could never be more beautiful than PP. When I was in Coron, apart from its grandeur of scenery, I was also able to build friendship with a local family in Busuaga and this family still remains in my heart. Now, El Nido has a space in my heart and blows my mind because of its incomparable beauty!
By the shores of El Nido Town.
I had always been mentioning the beauty of the islets of El Nido, but let me also tell you what I regard the downside of El Nido - the drainage of the establishments by the shore go directly to the ocean. Yaaykkks! No wonder nobody dares to swim in this portion of the island when this area should be considered the most auspicious for El Nido Town! 
Small Lagoon

We enjoyed kayaking in the crystal clear water while viewing the beautiful scenery of Big Lagoon. Pay attention to the three guys just behind us. Guess what happened next when they were chillaxing and were preoccupied gazing at the scenery. They had to dive for their expensive cameras (Hero 4!) afterwards. What a pity!

Wish we had stayed longer in this Big Lagoon islet!
Small Lagoon

We had a sumptuous lunch prepared by our boatmen at Payong-payong islet.
Payong-Payong islet is next to the posh Miniloc Resort. 
Secret Beach Lagoon

Pinaglabanan Beach

 This place is where I have tasted the sweetest buko in my entire life! Promise! Bukos cost P50.00 each and I was able to consume 2 of those! 

On the 2nd day, we had a series of stops included in Tour C and part of Tour D. 

Hidden Beach

We climb up the massive cliff to have a view of the magnificent islets here in Matinloc Shrine. 
You see beautiful sights when you are up in Matinloc Shrine.
Matinloc Shrine
Talisay Beach
Talisay Beach
Look how clear the water is in Talisay Beach.

Our last stop is in Cadlao islet. As usual, my favorite place is where I can see under water. I was able to snorkel in the deep end. What a beautiful sight! I will definitely visit exactly the same islets again!

Trip-trip lang sa El Nido!

I traveled to El Nido taking Cebu Pacific’s promo fare, purchased a long time ago. I booked the early flight to Puerto Princesa (PP) to give time for the 5-hour trip to El Nido. I also booked an all-in package tour through Balay Paragua on the last minute before leaving the house because of the thought that our flight might be delayed due to Cebu Pacific’s back log of cancelled flights from the previous days, and thinking it will be late when we arrive in El Nido and it will be difficult to find an inn. True enough! I don’t often book an accommodation and I have always been lucky and easy to find one except this time. When you are physically present in the area, you can already compare the accommodations from the row of inns/hotels according to your preference and budget. (You can also rent a tricycle offering the driver P50.00 for your hotel hopping.)

I was accommodated an all-in package tour in Balay Paragua. Glad that Weng, the person I talked to on the phone trusted my word telling him that I will just pay the full package (4,500/pax) once I arrive at their hotel instead of requiring me to pay a 20% deposit.

Just when I got out from the PP airport, I already saw my name so, I followed Jack to the van that led me go to another van packed of passengers bound for El Nido. After a 2 and a half-hour trip, we stopped at a restaurant to go to the restroom and eat lunch. The road was winding and paved except in some areas where there are currently having road/bridge repairs.

In El Nido, all the vans stop at a central terminal station. You take a tricycle ride outside from the terminal which is only about 20 steps from the area to catch a regular tryke that cost P10.00/pax instead of P50.00 from the terminal station.

Balay Paragua has a homey atmosphere and a friendly staff. It has all the basic necessities you need for a short stay. There is a complimentary breakfast, AC, hot shower and a queen size bed. 

The package includes tours A and C. They say this is the most popular island hopping tour people take. I was glad to be included in a group. We covered more island stops than what is normally indicated in tours A and C. I could not remember them all. Too bad! So, blogging is a way for me to remember my trips.

How to travel inexpensively to El Nido

More often than not, I take the most inexpensive way to travel. Here are some travel tips I do:

1.    Watch for air flight sales and grab them when you find them even if the travel date will still be quite a distant.

2.    Compare prices between a package tour and a self-made itinerary. Sometimes package tour is less expensive and sometimes not.

3.    When disembarking from the airport, walk a bit farther from the airport vicinity to catch your ride (taxi/tricycle/van). Rides within the airport/terminal areas usually charge more. Walk out from Puerto Princesa airport, and on the left side is where vans to El Nido are parked. It’s cheaper this way than having an agent to book the trip for you. I asked our driver and he said it only costs P400.00 to go to El Nido if you pay direct. Take a ride/tryke that has just dropped off a passenger to go to the bus station terminal for El Nido.

4.    When taking a taxi FROM Manila airport, go up to the DEPARTURE AREA. Get out from there and catch the taxi that has just dropped off a passenger. It is much faster than joining the queue of passengers catching a ride. It is also a metered taxi.
5.    Food is often more expensive in restaurants frequented by tourists. If you are in a group, and you are on a tight budget, you can market your own food and have it cooked/broiled in any restaurant. First, canvass an eatery that can cook for you before you market and ask their cooking fee. Or better yet ask your landlord if somebody can cook for you with a cooking fee or cook it yourself in your hostel if kitchen is available in your hostel – some allows cooking like the new Spin hostel. In this way, you get the inexpensive fresh seafoods and eat up to ‘sawa’. Then, treat yourself to a recommended restaurant on your last days of stay. Arte CafĂ© is a good restaurant. But I also went to Skyline Restaurant to try their bird’s nest soup. In fact, I also bought 2 sachets of that bird’s nest. Class A costs P1,000.00, B-500, C-300. I got B&C of that very small sachet of bird’s nest. Oh well, all for the experience!