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Monday, August 26, 2013

Surigao Adventure: Day 2c - Bolitas Cave, Bucas Grande Island

Bolitas Cave was our next destination.  This is just perpendicular to Crystal Cave, which is said to be its twin.  Actually they have the same cave entrance, its just that in Bolitas Cave, you need to walk a little further to enter the small opening down to the cave.

This is the entrance to the twin caves
Closer shot of the Bolitas Cave entrance
Another shot of the entrance to Bolitas Cave
Another entrance shot of Bolitas Cave with people going down

Seeing the small entrance of Bolitas Cave, I passed on this one.  Even the couples who joined us with the tour no longer visited this cave.  So we just waited for my boyfriend as he wants to explore everything.

Based on the pictures he gathered, it seems that this cave is very small.  He also has difficulty in going down and climbing up the cave.  It was also hot and with very little ventilation down there.

Inside the Bolitas Cave
Creepy looking rock formations even on the ceiling
My boyfriend coming out of the Bolitas Cave
Bolitas Cave is very unique.  Its rock formations really resembles a bolitas or pellets.  The ceiling seems like droplets.  Not much head room under this cave.  But still worth seeing because of its uniqueness.

This visit to Crystal Cave is part of the Bucas Grande Island tour which was explored during our Day 2 Surigao Adventure.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Surigao Adventure: Day 2b - Crystal Cave, Bucas Grande Island

After visiting the Tiktikan Lake, our next stop were the twin caves, Crystal and Bolitas Cave.  These were called twins since these are located on the same place, just perpendicular to each other.

Crystal Cave
It's not difficult to reach the Crystal Cave even though you need to climb up to reach it.  Going there, the path were somehow formed into stairs with improvised handle to support and guide you all the way up.  Reaching the mouth of the cave will take about 10 minutes walk.

Going to the cave

Crystal Cave Entrance

numerous rock formations will greet you upon entrance

one of the "crystals"

this is Kuya Joxen (blue cap)

Unique rock formed in the middle

another "crystal"
Unique rock formation

Inside the cave

look at the ceiling!

Further down the cave

Just taking a shot while everyone is leaving the cave
Crystal cave is wide and with just a few walks, you will be able to tour around it.  Inside the cave, most rock formations are white in color with some sparkling material thus making it seem like a crystal.  The path inside the cave is just a straight one so it's not really difficult to discover rock formations there.  I was fascinated on how these white crystal rocks were formed as they are not only situated on the sides or wall, but also at the middle.  Also, the rock formations were unique, never seen similar to it in some other caves I've been to in the Philippines.  It's another nice experience to be exploring this Crystal Cave.

This visit to Crystal Cave is part of the Bucas Grande Island tour which was explored during our Day 2 Surigao Adventure.

Surigao Adventure: Day 2a - Tiktikan Lake, Bucas Grande Island

Our first stop was the Tiktikan Lake or Lagoon Tiktikan.  On the way here was a spectacular view of the lagoon already with its clear bluegreen waters and lush green trees.

On the way to Tiktikan Lake

Lovely lagoon at our background

There were huts in this lake which one can rent at Php 3,000 per night, good for 5 pax already.  I saw some people riding a boat around the lake which I think can be rented also.

Information details

The huts and people boating

Another view of the Lake

The lagoon at low tide
We also had our lunch here c/o our contact boatman, Kuya Vincent.  Actually, we didn't inform him that we will avail his offer to cook lunch for us.  The couple who was with us during the tour, avail it so maybe they thought we will avail their lunch also.  Since we hadn't had lunch yet and our packed canned goods may not be enough to keep us full (since we don't have any rice) and I think Kuya Vincent prepared already lunch good for 4, we just took their lunch meal.

We're almost done eating when I took pictures of our food
Kuya Vincent charged us Php 350 per head for our lunch.  It consists of 3 types of fishes: 1 big grilled fish, 2 plates containing small sized fish cooked with sauce (like sweet and sour) and 1 medium sized fished.  The lunch also includes rice, softdrinks, banana and camote.  For the rate they charged us, I find it quite expensive.  But anyway, the big grilled fish was delicious.  The smallest fish was ok too.  Those were the only viands I've tasted.  That's why I find their rate of Php 350 expensive since, for me, it's not worth it!

After the Tiktikan Lake, our next destination will be the caves.  Please read them in my next blog.

More Surigao Adventure blogs here:
Day 1
Day 2

Surigao Adventure: Day 2 - Sohoton National Park / Bucas Grande Island

Whole day of Day 2 will be spent in Bucas Grande Island as per our initial itinerary.  This is located at the lower part of Siargao Island as you can see in the map from my previous blog but still these are part of Surigao del Norte.  Bucas Grande Island tour or also known as the Sohoton National Park tour is where you get to see various caves, lakes, lagoon and the one of a kind stingless jellyfish.

From Revlun Pension House, based from my research, we will just take a tricycle for about 30 minutes travel to reach Hayanggabon Port where boats are situated and the starting point for Bucas Grande Island tour.  Since it was a Good Friday, there were very limited transportation around.  We had difficulty in finding a tricycle.  There was even no any transportation in the Claver Terminal.  A few habal-habal were parked so we just asked them if they could take us to Hayanggabon port.  I know their rate will be expensive compared to tricycle but we are left with no choice.  This was my boyfriend's first habal-habal ride.  More details on transportation from Claver to Hayanggabon port here.

It was a Good Friday, almost no vehicles in sight

Once in Hayanggabon port, we met with our boatman, Kuya Vincent.  His rate was Php 3,500 for the tour for 2 pax with pick up and drop off at Hayanggabon Port and inclusive of all the fees.  Lunch was not included so we just packed some canned goods.  A day before, he advise us if another couple can join us in the tour, thinking the rate will be lowered since there will already be 4 of us, I agreed.  But when I confirmed, rate will still be the same.  I just let it pass, saying let it be our help on Surigao's tourism.  Besides, it is supposed to be a holiday (Good Friday), so it must be double pay work, we joked.

Kuya Vicent accompanied bigger group on a separate boat so he left us with Kuya Joxen as our tour guide (he does tours as well separately from Kuya Vincent but we wasn't able to ask how much his rate).  It took us about 45 minutes boat ride before we reach our destination.  Below are the tours we visited from Kuya Vincent's package, in order:

Tiktikan Lake
Crystal Cave
Bolitas Cave
Sohoton Cove - Horseshoe landmark
Hagukan Cove
Magkakuob Cove
Jellyfish Sanctuary
Coral Reefs Snorkeling
Island hopping: Club Tara, Cantiles Island (?), Hidden Resort

Please click each destination for my blog about it.

Here are our Day 2 expenses, good for 2:

Habal-habal to Hayanggabon port - Php 200 (20 minutes)
Water at Tiktikan Lake - Php 20
Tour - Php 3,500
Lunch - Php700
Tip to boatmen - Php 200
Lucky me - Php 40
Tinapay - Php 20
Water - Php 25
Balot - Php 17
Tinapay - Php 14

Total for Day 2:  Php 4,736

Day 1 expenses: Php 2,151

Total so far: Php 6,887

We brought some canned goods for our lunch but Kuya Vincent offers lunch to be cooked which was not included in the package.  So these canned goods were eaten for our dinner along with the breads we bought (there's no rice to be bought that night near our hotel since its a Good Friday, most stores are closed).

Here are the numbers of our boatmen:
Kuya Vincent -0930.802.8704
Kuya Joxen - 0909.204.4829

Other boatmen I inquired for the Sohoton tour:
Samy - 0907.715.7134 (rate Php 3,500 for 2, tours only)
Keni - 0939.438.0618 (rate Php 3,000 for 2, tours only)
Dodo (Sohoton Tourism Office) - 0939.904.7019 (rate Php 4,950 for 2, tours and fees)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rice Terraces in the Philippines

Upon searching the internet for an interesting fact about Banaue Rice Terraces, I came across the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.  All of these can be found in Banaue, Ifugao Province.  (refer to Wikipedia about these here and here.)

This explains why I saw a lot of Rice Terraces when we visited Sagada and passed by Ifugao Province last 2009.  Pictures below show some of the various rice terraces we passed by.  I can't identify which is which.  Can you?  All I know is that I was able to visit this historical landmark of the Philippines which can also be seen in an old Php 1,000 bill.

I recall I found these rice terraces to be similar with each other thus I don't have much pictures of it.  But based on the pictures from Wikipedia, I believe we were able to visit those Rice Terraces in Cordillera, specifically the Batad Rice Terraces.  Nevertheless, it's nice to know that these amazing landmarks were man-made and were included in UNESCO World Heritage List.  It's more fun in the Philippines!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Java Jazz Coffee: A Review

During my impromptu Tagaytay trip with my boyfriend, our first choice of accommodation was Java Jazz Lodging House.  It is actually a coffee shop, Java Jazz Coffee, but they added a lodging house to accommodate tourist.  They only have 3 rooms available so by the time we were there, it was already fully booked.

This place was quite hard to find, although it is just located along the highway.  It is because their place is just small as well as their signage.  But good thing, their walls are painted in bright yellow.

Since Java Jazz Coffee's interiors were full of artworks / art gallery and museum type of ambiance, me and my boyfriend was encouraged to try out their food and of course their coffee after we looked for other available accommodation for this impromptu trip.

panoramic view of the art gallery

one of their seats

It was already late lunch, about past 1pm already.  There's only a couple dining in, so its a good thing that is not crowded.  We opted to seat on their somewhat Japanese style table with banig (traditional Filipino mat).   The other couple was just behind us at the same Japanese style table.  There's only 2 units of this type of table, so you can try it for a unique experience. 

Below are the food and drinks we ordered.  Apologies as I forgot each name and prices.  Maybe that's a good reason for me to go back ;)

This drink has a little liquor on it
Lechon Kawali.  Big serving of rice

I think this was the Cafe de Tagaytay. 

One of their pasta with cheese, beef and mushroom
I find their drinks interesting.  My boyfriend ordered for a drink that has a liquor on it.  It was too strong for me when I tasted it but for him it was ok.  His lunch for that day was the typical Filipino dish, Lechon Kawali.  The taste was ok according to him and the serving of rice was quite huge.

For myself, I ordered for a coffee since that was already almost snack time with pasta as my late lunch meal.  My pasta was good enough, nothing really special.  Their coffee, which I think was the Cafe de Tagaytay, was quite strong for me.  There's no milk nor creamer served together with it and I wasn't able to request for one.  So I just put more sugar to minimize the strong flavor of coffee.

Below were our orders for breakfast the next day. The place was still cozy and cool even when the sun is already heating up at around 9am.  This time, we just seated in the normal chairs and table.

Set breakfast: bacon, ham, scrambled egg, mixed vegetables and hash brown

Pandesal with cream cheese

Mango Juice

Hot Tsokolate Eh (without milk)
Our set breakfast was good enough for 2.  I like their hash brown as it is not too oily.  As for the rest, it was just so so.  I wish that they made the bacon crispier.  The serving size of the scrambled egg was too small.

The presentation of the pandesal with cream cheese was inviting but I got a bit disappointed when the cream cheese was spread to thinly onto the bread.  You wouldn't taste much of it.

For the drinks, my boyfriend's mango juice with ice cream was quite off for a breakfast meal but it taste refreshing.  I took the Hot Tsokolate Eh, which according to them simply means hot chocolate without milk.  Since I love chocolates, I enjoyed this hot drink.  It was thick and the chocolate or tablea is like in its purest form.  I remember I tasted the same when I was in Iloilo.  This comes in small serving as the thick chocolate is best consume just by a bit else you might get sick of it.  I think my hot chocolate is best partnered with the pandesal.

Overall, I enjoyed our food trip at Java Jazz Coffee.  I would love to go back and try out their other dishes, especially the coffee.  And maybe someday, I'll try sleeping over at their Lodging House.  If you love art or wanted to dine in a unique lay back style while hanging out with friends, then I would suggest this place.