Thursday, July 31, 2014

That Province Called Siquijor

When one hear the province Siquijor, they will immediately think of sorcery, witchcraft and the supernatural which makes this province a not so famous destination.  But that's an unfair judgment on this province.  Whether the myths and tales are true or not, the province has its distinct beauty and serenity which is very inviting once you get there.



As mentioned in my previous blog, planning a trip to Siquijor, I prefer to stay and explore this province longer.  But because of its close proximity to Dumaguete and Apo Island, I wouldn't want to visit these provinces as well.  So initially, we will only stay overnight at Siquijor on our 1st day.  Beside, I read in some blogs that you can tour the Siquijor in half to one day.  But our plans changed and our itinerary was totally revamped when we set foot at Siquijor.

After a long ferry ride (about 1.5 hours) from Dumaguete to Siquijor port, it was the beauty and the long stretch beach at Coco Grove Beach Resort which easily captures our heart.  The resort was inviting and seems very relaxing.  What we love best is the uncrowded and peaceful ambiance of the resort.  More reviews about this resort in my next blog.



 The reason why we extended for another night at Coco Grove is because I learned that they are offering day tours at Apo Island to all their guests.  This service was posted on their website (along with other services like Siquijor tour) but I thought we won't be able to use it since the minimum number of pax is 10.  The resort ask each guests and offers this tour so as to accumulate the minimum number of pax.  The Apo Island tour cost Php 1,600 per pax which includes boat transfer, entrance fees, snorkeling gears and tour guides.  We found the rate a bit expensive but at least all will be taken care of.

We spent the whole afternoon of day 1 just lounging at the beach and exploring the resort. 

this is on one end of the resort

one of the resort's restaurant



mixed weather: sunny yet cloudy



Him

Me


panoramic view


Our Apo Island tour was spent on day 2.  Travel time from Siquijor to Apo Island is about 1.5 to 2 hours.  With this schedule, we no longer had the time to tour Siquijor.  That's another reason to go back to this province.  We had a few pictures though of some tourist spots which we took along the way.    I wanted to explore more of Siquijor especially the falls and the beaches.  Siquijor seems a lovely province isn't it?    

Monday, May 26, 2014

Exploring Dumaguete, Siquijor and Apo Island

Hearing about the beauty of Siquijor, I was very eager to spend the most of my vacation there.  But since this small province is near to Dumaguete and Apo Island, I wouldn't want to miss visiting and exploring these places as well.


Planning
Its not hard to prepare and plan for a trip on these 3 destinations.  Maybe because I already know where I wanna go on each locations and there are not much to explore on Siquijor and Apo Island.  I started with checking the must see destinations in Siquijor.  Per research, one can explore most of the tourist destination of Siquijor in half to one day.  Famous destinations here are as follows:

  • St. Francis of Assisi Church
  • Capilay Spring Park
  • Balete Tree
  • Lazi Church and Convent
  • Cambugahay Falls
  • Salagdoong Beach

In Apo Island on the other hand, it is famous for snorkeling and swimming with the turtles.  There are also Rock Formations and the Marine Sanctuary.


Dumaguete was the only province which have quite a number of destinations to explore.  But since our trip is only 4 days, we will be only exploring the city.  Below are some famous destinations that I have researched.

  • Siliman University
  • Anthropology Museum in Siliman University
  • Casaroro Falls
  • Pulangbato Falls
  • Rizal Boulevard
  • Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao
  • Belfry Tower
  • St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral
  • Quezon Park
  • Aquino Freedom Park


Itinerary
Basically, our planned itinerary was overnight at Siquijor on day 1, rest on day 2 (coming from Siquijor to Dumaguete), day tour in Apo Island on day 3 then explore Dumaguete City on the remaining of day 3 and the rest of day 4.  You may read these blog posts on why this planned itinerary was not followed.

Transportation
If you plan to visit all these 3 destinations, by plane, your nearest drop off point is at Dumaguete (Sibulan Airport).  From the airport, one can ride the tricycle, about 15 minutes, bound to the port going to Siquijor.  From Dumaguete to Siquijor, travel time by ferry boat can be as fast as 45 minutes or as slow as 2 hours.  This is dependent on the shipping lines that you will be using.  Note that each shipping company provides different schedule and availability to-from Dumaguete and Siquijor.

Ferry from Dumaguete port to Siquijor port

If you are in Dumaguete City, traveling to Apo Island will take you about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  This includes 5 minutes tricycle ride from the city to the bus terminal, 40 minutes bus ride and 35 minutes boat ride to the island.


Our boat to Apo Island from Coco Grove Beach Resort in Siquijor

To help you further, see below on some ferry boat schedules from Dumaguete to Siquijor.  There are 2 ports available in Siquijor: Larena port and Siquijor port.  Siquijor port is nearer to San Juan where famous beaches are located.  These were provided to me by Coco Grove Beach Resort for Siquijor port.

·         Jay Lann (Outrigger Boat travels 1Hr & 15 minutes or more) Note: No trips every Saturday. Docks at Siquijor port
·         GL Express (1 hr) Note: No trips every Saturday. Docks at Siquijor port
·         Ocean Jet (Big Fast Craft, Seats options are Business, Tourist & Open-air & Travels only 45 minutes) Docks at Siquijor port
·         Aleson (Big Cargo Ferry travels about 2Hrs) Docks at Siquijor port
·         Montenegro Lines (Big Cargo Ferry Travels 2 Hours but to Larena Pier which 30  minutes travel to & from the resort) Docks at Larena port
Dumaguete-Siquijor

5:40 am Jay Lann
8:00 am Aleson Ferry
10:00 am GL Express
10:00 am Montenegro
12:00 nn Jay Lann
1:00 pm Ocean Jet
3:30 pm Aleson Ferry
4:00 pm GL Express
6:00 pm Montenegro

Siquijor-Dumaguete

5:50 am Jay Lann
6:00 am Montenegro
8:00 am GL Express
9:30 am Jay Lann
11:00 am Aleson
12:00 nn GL Express
2:00 pm Montenegro
2:30 pm Ocean Jet
3:45 pm Jay Lann
5:30 pm Aleson


Ocean Jet from Siquijor port to Dumaguete port

I prefer and would recommend Ocean Jet as this is the fastest.  However, the time indicated above seems late already but they also have trips to Larena port at an earlier time coming from Dumaguete.  It is suggested to book your tickets early prior your trip to Siquijor as these sells fast.  So it is better to plan your itinerary with ample time intervals to avoid ruining your plan just because you were not able to ride the ferry at your preferred schedule.  Also, the schedule are often changing depending on the sea and whether conditions.

Read my next blog about Siquijor, here.
 

Weekend at Nagsasa Cove

Arriving at Nagsasa Cove, the boatmen helped us in setting up the tent and looking for stones and woods which will serve as our stove and stove top.  Together with my male friend (the only male in our group), he helped in setting out the fire.  Indeed, everything was provided.  After everything was set up, the boatmen already left us.  That's why at night, there was no bonfire provided to us which was supposed to be included in our package as agreed with Marvin.

Nagsasa Cove campsite

Panoramic view of Nagsasa Cove


There were several beach resorts/campsite at the cove.  I guess the only difference is their little convenience to be provided to their guests.  I haven't tour around those resorts but comparing ours (Kuya Ting Campsite) to the neighboring resort, I noticed that ours provided a generator particularly on the 4 restrooms.  The lights were always on until no one is taking a bath according to the caretaker.


This is where we stayed

It was scourging hot during the day especially at noon.  Whats even hotter is the flame coming out from the neighboring tent's cooking area which seem to be endlessly cooking from dusk 'til dawn.  The direction of wind was towards us thus the flame of their charcoal/wood fire was all directed to us.  My friends with the help of the caretakers talked to the neighboring tent but it took them awhile to convince them to change their cooking area.  Those in charged were already a bit drunk so its quite difficult to convince them.

Nagsasa Cove is bigger than Anawaning Cove.  It was indeed more picturesque than Anawangin, in my opinion because of mountains and hills surrounding it.  Pine trees, however are more abundant in Anawangin Cove.  If Anawangin Cove has its lake, Nagsasa Cove has its sand bar.  Its lovely here especially before sunset.  At both coves, water is clear and the sand was somehow fine but not that white.  It is sad, however, that there are quite a number of trash found at the shores and even at the waters of Nagsasa Cove.  Also, there are small jellyfishes found here.

Picturesque beauty located at the back of the beach

Small lake?
 

Lovely sunset

Jellyfish found on the shore


The next day, for our island hopping at Anawangin Cove and Capones, the scheduled pick up at 7:30-8am was not followed.  Marvin (our boatman) arrived at around 9am already.  With this, we had so little time to explore and swim at Anawangin and Capones.  But somehow, we still managed to enjoyed it.  We were suppose to visit the lake at Anawangin but we learned that there was already an entrance fee.  Some of us wasn't able to swim at Anawangin, instead, they ate halo halo.  But at Capones, all of us got the chance to swim.  We didn't, however, visit the lighthouse because according to Marvin, it is on the other side of the island and it was low tide so our boat couldn't dock there.  Capones Island is more rocky with pebbles but again the water is clear.  The foot bed was uneven that there are sudden steep portion so one must be careful in swimming the area.

Panoramic view of Anawangin Cove


Part of Capones Island

Clear waters and pebbles of Capones


Since our island hopping happened on our last day, Marvin provided an area in Pundaquit which he said owned by his aunt where we could take a bath and change clothes.  It was an open area with water "poso" that is somehow clean.  2 changing areas were provided, one with toilet but there was no water inside.  You need to fetch water from the "poso" using their pail.  The area was full of pomelo and mango trees.  Its just unfortunate that the fruits were still unripe for the picking.  If it was already ripe and ready for picking, Marvin said we could take home some.

Overall, we enjoyed Marvin's service and I will recommend him to all those who wish to visit Nagsasa Cove and looking for a boatman.  You may check my previous blog for his contact details.

Weekend at Nagsasa Cove: Getting There

Nagsasa Cove is one of the famous destinations at Pundaquit San Antonio, Zambales aside from Anawangin Cove, Capones and Camara.  There's another cove here but I forgot its name.  It is said to be the farthest among these destinations.

I've been to Anawangin, Capones and Camara last year but we didn't camp out in Anawangin Cove, instead we stayed in one of the accommodations available in Pundaquit.  You can read my blog post about it here.  This time, since more and more people are raving about Nagsasa Cove, claiming it to be better than Anawangin Cove, my friends decided to visit Nagsasa Cove and stay overnight there by camping.

Panoramic view of Nagsasa Cove from the sea


Planning on this trip, we prefer convenience, thus we searched for an all in package that will take us to Nagsasa Cove at the same time tour the other coves for my first timer friends' pleasure.  Most of the tour packages require at least 10 pax for the trip to be economical.  The more, the better, the cheaper.  My officemate, who had been to Nagsasa Cove just recently, provided us boatman contact.  The same boatman guided them and provided everything for them while in Nagsasa excluding land transportation going to Zambales.  Since we prefer convenience, its a good thing that the boatman also has contacts for van rentals.  For an all in package, which includes van and boat transfer, tent, cooking equipment, utensils, mineral water, entrance fees, cottages, and island hopping, the charge was Php 1,550 per person good for 10 pax.  At the last minute, we were only 9 pax so the charge was Php 1,600.  Food was not included.   

The van is supposed to pick us up in Makati at 1am but for some reason he requested it to be at 3am.  I declined and said that it's too late already.  We agreed at 2am.  I asked again the reason for change in schedule but he didn't respond.  He arrived in Makati a bit late, 15 minutes late.  The van was big, I think that was Nissan Urvan, with cool A/C.  It can accommodate up to 18 passengers including the driver.  So for us 9 pax, it was a comfortable seating.  By the way, picking up of other people along the way is not allowed.  The driver said that there should only be one pick up and drop off point.

The travel time took 4 hours.  But I believe it should have been shortened if we opted to to take the SCTEX  route instead of San Fernando exit.  I no longer asked the driver why but I guess they're avoiding the high toll fees.  During the trip, we had 2 stop overs, one at SBMA then the other one at San Antonio where we will do marketing to buy foods to cook.  We encountered traffic somewhere in Olongapo due to fiesta preparation.  But good thing our driver asked around for a short cut or other routes to avoid the queue of trucks and other vehicles.  We arrived in San Antonio around 6 am already and the wet market is already opened (it is said to be opened by 5:30am).  We arrived at the "port" of Pundaquit by 7am.  It is not actually port but that was the tail end for land transportation.  There, we were greeted by our boatman, Marvin.  He then introduced us to the boatmen who will take us to Nagsasa Cove and who will assist us in all our preparation needs.  Marvin gave us an option on the island hopping.  He said, we can already visit Anawangin Cove before heading to Nagsasa then on the next day, that's where we will visit Capones island.  Another option is to directly head to Nagsasa Cove in day 1 and take the island hopping on the second day.  We preferred the second option.  I believe most of us were all excited to see and relax at Nagsasa Cove.

Below is the contact details of our boatman, Marvin and the van c/o Jeremy:

Marvin (boatman) - 0927.7594714
Jeremy (van) - 0906.2741883

Again our contacts for the van was also care of Marvin.  Read my next blog where I relate the beauty of Nagsasa Cove.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Camaya Sands (Camaya Coast) Day Tour

It was May 2013 when I first heard and set foot at Camaya Sands (Camaya Coast) in Mariveles, Bataan.  It was sponsored by our company for our group's team building.  During that time, you wouldn't see any details about this resort except for an offering to invest in the island.  Thus, it perceived to be for members only.

Camaya Coast is a beach resort with residential and condominium development.   Its hotel, Camaya Sands Resort and Leisure is managed by Fuego Hotels.  This hotel was likewise opened last year offering day tour packages to guests inclusive of round trip ferry transfers, lunch and afternoon snacks.  I believe this was the same package given to our company for our day tour team building.

The ferry ride took about an hour and a half.  It was a smooth sailing ride and the boat was quite big with air conditioning.  A movie was also played on their LCD TV screen on the duration of the ride.  Since it was a team building, we were provided with morning snacks.

wrist band
tags
The ferry boat arrived exactly at the Camaya Coast's beach but since it was big, it cannot dock at the shore.  Floating rubber walkway will be your path going to the beach. For me, that was quite a long walk because we walk slowly as it was shaky.

Arriving at Camaya Coast
Floating rubber

Its a bit shaky!
 Upon arriving at the beach, we were greeted by the Camaya Sands staff giving us refreshing drink and wet towels to freshen up.  Our group directed us to proceed to the Wood Pavillion.  This is where we placed our bags and things all throughout the team building event.

The first view upon arrival at the beach
The day tour includes lunch.  It was served buffet type.  There are a number of foods provided but I'm not sure if those were all care of the resort or if a few were provided by our company.  I can't recall how the food tasted but I remember it also includes buffet dessert.  You can also request for halo-halo, a Filipino type of refreshing dessert with different kinds of fruits topped with crushed ice.  Later in the afternoon, snacks are also provided.

For the beach area, lots of lounging chairs with umbrellas are available.  My friends and I spent  few minutes in the afternoon resting at each chair just to relax and enjoy the view of the calm beach.  There's this round rattan loungers available that are also ideal for resting.  

 
Lounging chairs
Rattan loungers

The sand of Camaya Coast beach has a wide stretch of cream or slight whitish and clean sand.  It is somehow fine but not that powdery as in Boracay.  The waters at the beach is also clear and clean.  There are a few small fishes seen at the beach.  Gladly, we didn't see any jellyfish.

Panoramic view of the beach
Activities available are kayaking, banana boat, karaoke, beach volleyball, frisbee and even a massage at the beach area.  These are all for a fee.

Another nice thing about Camaya Coast is their swimming pool area.  It is an infinity pool with jacuzzi attached to it.  The pool is quite big and not that deep.  The water is clear and clean.  Kiddie pool is also available.  The jacuzzi is very relaxing and it was nice to stay here and converse with your friends.

Panoramic view of the pool
Several shower and comfort rooms are available near the pool and beach area.  I can't quite recall the shower area but I remember the cubicle at their comfort rooms is quite big.  Toilet tissue is also provided.

Overall, Camaya Sands is another beach destination to look forward to in Luzon area.  I don't have any idea how much the room rate per night and I'm not sure if its already open for guests.   But this year, several group deal websites are offering day tour to Camaya Sands.  I think its already a good deal if you want to experience the beauty of Camaya Coast.  However, the ferry transfer is not included on those deals.  You can still get here by land though by private or public vehicle.  Travel time will be around 3 hours and another 10 minute boat ride to reach Camaya Coast.  By boat, you may check with Sun Cruises if they have trips to Camaya Coast or you can check directly with Camaya Coast if ferry ride is available to them.

Enjoy the summer!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jet-Setter

A jet-setter is defined as: "A person who travels to numerous places around the world to places that other people always want to go but never do." - from http://www.urbandictionary.com/ 

I never considered myself as a jet-setter but many people are calling me one.  According to Lakbayan site, I'm only a B- traveler.  I have only traveled around 30 provinces out of 80+ provinces in the Philippines.  Not a lot, not even half.  I still wanted to become an A traveler if based from Lakbayan site but that's quite difficult to do considering my work, my resources and priorities.  But if I got the time, I will definitely travel around the Philippines first before I travel abroad (although I've been to a few foreign countries already).  Love your own! And its More Fun in the Philippines!

I guess its because I have different group of friends who loves traveling that gave me an opportunity to visit the beautiful provinces in the Philippines, particularly the beaches.  But still, I don't consider myself as a jet-setter because when I looked at other jet-setter people and bloggers, I'm not even close to where they have gone.  There are more places I need to go and discover to appreciate better the beauty of the Philippines.  Thank God for blogs and forum sites (like Girltalk) which give information on various provinces, destinations and tourist spot in the country.

This is the reason why I created this blog to share the beautiful places I've been to in the Philippines.  But unfortunately, I can no longer recall all the details of most of my travels that's why there's a few travel post on this blog.  That's the problem with me.  I immediately forgot those details, like accommodation, fares, expenses, etc.  But those memories are all kept through pictures.  If I have the time, I really try to recall my travel experience by recalling the events from the pictures.  I wanted to share and help my readers on their upcoming travel adventure with my post.  I'm glad I am able to help some.

It really doesn't matter to me whether I am tagged as a jet-setter or not.  What's important for me is that I am able to help my readers through my blog post at the same time I got the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Philippines.

Let me take this opportunity to thank my readers and advertisers who supports my blog and find them helpful.  I'll try my best to post more travel experience with lots of pictures.  Thank you again.  Happy traveling!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Planning Your Next Trip

I previously blogged about the essentials when traveling or Traveling 101 which I learned from a talk during the Belle de Jour Planner fair/event.  So now, I'd like to share with you some tips I personally do in planning my next trip.  The basic word is "research".  But what should you research about?

Tourist Spots
Of course how can you be inspired to visit the destination of your choice if you don't know what's the famous tourist spots on that place.  I'm sure before you got eager to visit your next destination, you are somehow aware on where you want to visit or explore.  This is the first thing that I do, listing down all the tourist spots available in that place.  You can also check if there are packages available from an agency, hotel or tourist guide to help you visit your preferred destination without any worries.  But in case you're on a budget, you must just thoroughly research about it.  Some destinations, though, requires you to be accompanied by a tourist guide.

Accommodation
Scouting for an accommodation can be crucial as it is dependent on various factors like budget and its proximity to tourist destinations.  But one thing is for sure, for ever tourist spots you visit, there is at least one available accommodation or near to it.  If you will go on hopping from one area to another, finding an accommodation will be more challenging.  I remember our Surigao Adventure trip.  We visit a lot of provinces in 5-day trip which also resulted to staying to 3 different accommodations!

Transportation Schedule
Based on your choice of tourist destination, it is important to know the available transport schedule most especially if there are fixed schedule followed.  It is important to know the departure and arrival time as well as the intervals or the next available schedule.  This can be crucial in your itinerary planning most especially if you are following a tight schedule.   It is also important to know the travel time in going from one place to another.  This will help you determine which tourist spot to visit first or even skip out in case your schedule is tight (here's a sample of thorough transportation research that I made).  For a place with vast transportation system (e.g. trains in other countries such as Hong Kong), it would be best to print the whole train destination and its stops.  If you're availing a package tour, most of the time the transportation and fees are already covered.

Fares and Expenses
While determining the transportation schedule, it will be helpful to know the fares of each for budgetary purposes.  Same with scouting for accommodation.  Budget can also be one of your considerations most especially if it is limited.  You should also determine the rates, if any, of tours, entrance fees and other charges during the tour.  Most of the time, rates and fees are dependent on the number of people. Here is a sample of the expenses we incurred in one of our trips.


Itinerary
Most of the time, I prepare an itinerary for the whole trip from departing to Manila up to arriving to Manila including the time for each destination  (here's a sample itinerary).  Jotting down your itinerary can help you maximize your trip.  You will somehow have an idea on how your trip will flow.  From this itinerary, you will know if your trip is just right and not an "amazing race" type.  Some strictly follows their itinerary while some completely ditch it on the day of the trip itself.  It is up to you but an itinerary will help you forsee what you will be doing on your whole trip.  It can also be helpful if you have a "plan B" in case your initial itinerary did not push through due to unforseen circumstances.     


Things to Bring
Aside from the basics "what to bring" on a trip, it is important to know what other items you should be bringing in the various destination that you plan to visit.  For example, if you are planning to go on an island hoping the whole day, you should check how and where will you be having your lunch.  This may also entail providing lunch for your tour guide/s.  

Most of my trips are DIY or Do-It-Yourself.  That's why a thorough research is essential.  These are just some of the things I consider in my research.  In case you have other ideas, you may want to share them here.  Have a safe and enjoyable trip!