Sunday, January 24, 2016

Still Aboard the Bicol Express!

It's almost two weeks after our Bicolandia trip and I still wish I was in Caramoan sipping some coconut juice, chillin' in Lahos Island and living the island life. Opening 2016 with a major trip with friends has got me so giddy about travelling for the whole year but then I have to think that I still have a life here in Cebu! =D I have bills to pay and I can't just travel in a snap. I have to save up for my next trip and it made me blog this entry because I want to list down the places I want to visit in the Philippines.



 After my Bicol trip, visiting other countries was really not on my mind anymore. Of course I want to go visit other countries but Philippines is such a beautiful country too! I thought If I could just visit all the provinces in the Philippines that's the time I will travel to another countries. Or I don't know maybe this is just the Bicolandia fever but really I wish I could travel and visit the Philippines without worrying about my bills when I get home! Hahah!

So here are my bucket list Philippine destinations:

  • Bataan for its World War II history being the last province who stood up against the Japanese.
  • Zambales for Mt. Pinatubo.
  • Pampanga for The Sandbox.
  • Cagayan (province in North Luzon) because Survivor US was also being shot their in Palaui Island, Cagayan.
  • Cordillera Administrative Region. I want to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces, experience the cool temperature in Baguio, and the hanging coffins in Sagada, 
  • Batanes. Need I say more?
  • Tuguegarao just because it's in the northernmost tip of the Philippines. I always want to travel far. =D
  • Davao City. I want to experience what other people are saying about how clean and disciplined the people are under the leadership of Mayor Duterte.
  • Bukidnon for Dahilayan Adventure Park.
  • Siquijor for its laid back atmosphere and beaches.
  • Boracay Island but it would be okay if this is last on my list  This place has become so mainstream that it doesn't make me wanna go there badly anymore, Plus I just visited Caramoan so ...I guess I need not say more. =D
  • Palawan. Seeing pictures of Coron and El Nido is like loveeeeee.
Ilocandia. Tagaytay, Camiguin Island, and Bicolandia are checked off the list! =)

Do you have any other suggestions where to visit in the Philippines? Please feel free to suggest in the comments section and I'll keep that in mind. =)

Here is our Bicolandia video made by my friend to summarize our experience in the region.




Thank you for taking the time in reading this entry!

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-Jen

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Adventures in Bicolandia: Aboard the Bicol Express! Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous blog entry. I was supposed to have it in one blog post but unfortunately I wasn't able to save the contents after I blogged about our 3rd day in Bicol.

After living the island life in Caramoan, it is time to travel back to Legazpi City and meet Mt. Mayon.



Day 4: January 10, 2016 (Let's go back to Legazpi!)
600 AM - Wake up call. Prep and eat breakfast.
*Noodles: Php 15.00/person

730 AM - Checked out in Island View Lodge and depart to Guijalo.
*Tricycle fare: Php 300.00 = Php 100.00/person

820 AM - When we arrived in Guijalo, we were the only passengers aboard the pump boat. The boatman waited for more passengers and left Guijalo 20 minutes later. If not peak season, I guess the pump boat schedule is flexible because we were supposed to catch the 8:00 AM schedule.

Motorized pump boat schedules: 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM EVERYDAY.
* Boat fare: Php 120.00/person
* Man made float: Php 10.00/person

843 AM - Depart from Guijalo to Sabang

1120 AM - All the vans going to Naga City were all occupied. We were the last 3 passengers left bound for Naga City so we decided to just pay for more to immediately leave for Naga City. Instead of paying Php 100.00, we paid Php 500.00 so that makes Php 166.67/person.

130 PM - We had our lunch in SM City Naga in Triboo Grill.
* Lunch: Php 128.00/person

240 PM - Depart from Naga City to Legazpi City. We suggest to ride a van since it is much faster than riding the bus going from Naga to Legazpi.
*Van fare: Php 140.00/person

500 PM - We still didn't have a hotel to stay so we asked the tricycle driver where is the best place with affordable room rates. He brought us to Sampaguita Tourist Inn. We first checked the room and found it to be smelly and not pleasing. There was a hotel just meters away from Sampaguita so we checked the rooms and decided to stay here for the next two days. We availed the 12 hours stay to save money.We left our baggage in Twilight Zone Hotel and went to Embarcadero Mall, Ayala Malls Legazpi and LCC Mall where we ate our dinner.
* Dinner: Php 65.00/person
* Tricycle fare: Php 10.00/person

800 PM - Checked in Twilight Zone Hotel and re energize since we are off to meet Mt. Mayon the next day.
*Room rate: Php 1,000.00 = Php 333.33/person (12 hours)


Day 5: January 11, 2016 (Meeting Mt. Mayon)
800 AM - Checked out in Twilight Zone Hotel but we asked the receptionist if we could leave our baggage since we are still going to stay for the night and thankfully he agreed to let us leave our baggage for the day.

We had our coffee in Dunkin Donuts to wait until 9:00 AM since I had to withdraw money already!

940 AM - After we went to the bank, we rode a tricycle going to LCC Mall. From there we rode a jeepney going to Lignon Hill.
* Tricycle fare: Php 10.00
* Jeepney fare: Php 8.00

1000 AM - Lignon Hill is a mountain view park. I suggest if you come to visit here you should hire a van or a motorcycle going to the top of the park. It was too far to walk for tourists. When we got here, Nanay Puring greeted us a marketing talk about the Mt. Mayon ATV (all terrain vehicle) experience. We decided to avail the Php 2,500.00 package that will bring us to the foot of Mt. Mayon where the lava from the 2006 eruption was situated. Also included in the package was a van that would pick us up from Lignon Hill going to the ATV area.

While waiting for the van to pick us up, Nanay Puring brought us into the Japanese Tunnel. It was eerily creepy inside with Japanese statues and the Japanese flags placed in each corner of the tunnel.



So creepy but still smiling for the photo op.
















1030 AM - The van from Your Brother Travel and Tours picked us up and drove us to the ATV area. They are the pioneer in offering ATV experience in Mt. Mayon, After giving us a brief introduction about the experience and giving out safety measures, we were ready to conquer Mt. Mayon! =D
*ATV experience = Php 2,500.00/person



Mt. Mayon didn't welcome us.





1100 AM - After a test drive with the ATV, we started our journey to the lava area from the 2006 eruption of Mayon. I was worried since it was really cloudy that day. When we reached the lava area, there was no view of the perfect coned volcano just clouds. =( But still we took pictures.

Climbing the molten lava.


All cloudddssssss!!! =(

Lava. They also built a helipad on top of the lava.
















300 PM - The van drove us back to Lignon Hill. Here we ate our lunch and waited for around 30 minutes for the skies to clear out. Finally! Mt. Mayon welcomed us with its perfect view of its perfect cone volcano! We immediately took pictures since there were still a lot of clouds surrounding Mayon.

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Mt. Mayon finally welcomed us!!


Going back to the main road was difficult because there were no public transportation in Lignon Hill. There were "habal-habals" (public motorcycles) but there were no available drivers. My friends and I mustered the courage to hitchhike with other tourists and fortunately one group agreed to let us ride back to the main road.

























441 PM - Travelled from Lignon Hill to the Cagsawa Ruins. We had to ride a jeep that says Daraga Loop 1. The driver dropped us somewhere we could ride a tricycle going to the ruins. It was difficult to find a tricycle because it was already rush hour. One driver negotiated to take us to the ruins with a much higher fare. We decided to just take it since we have no much time to wait for a much cheaper tricycle. We let the driver wait for us until we finished taking pictures in the area.
* Tricycle: Php 120.00 = Php 40.00/person

The iconic view of Mayon...all clouds. Sigh.



538 PM - The tricycle driver dropped us where we could ride a jeepney going back to Legazpi.
* Jeepney fare: Php 10.00/person

600 PM - Arrived in Twilight Zone Hotel. Again, we asked a favor to the receptionist if we could just leave our baggage in the room while we take our dinner somewhere and they agreed! You guys should come stay in this hotel. The staff are hassle free.

We had our dinner in Bigg's Diner in Embarcadero Mall. Bigg's Diner is a food chain in the Bicol region. The place had an American diner vibe but with too much expectation we were left disappointed after dining. Their meals were too expensive and "okay". Jollibee was a better option.


Jollibee burger steak is way better.




















After dining in Bigg's Diner, we strolled the streets in Legazpi City and came across the Streetfood Strip in the city. There were a lot streetfood from barbecue, chicken skin, burgers, hotdogs, and most especially the only one that caught my attention was this....

CHILI HAM AND CHEESE WRAPPED IN A LUMPIA WRAPPER!

Chili ham and cheese with lotsa mayonnaise!

Streetfood Strip in Legazpi City.
We just walked going back to the hotel and spend the night and re energize for our last day in Bicolandia.


Day 6: January 12, 2016 ( It is time to part ways...)
730 AM - Wake up call.

900 AM - Checked out in Twilight Zone Hotel.  Our flight back to Cebu was 1250 PM. We left our baggage in the hotel and went to the Sleeping Lion and the New Legazpi City Sea Wall and Boulevard.
*Tricyle fare: Php 50.00 = Php 16.67/person





1000 AM - We went to Pacific Mall to eat our brunch. We dined in Graceland. Graceland is also a fast food chain in the Bicol region. They offer a better variety of food than Bigg's Diner.

Bangus with laing.




















We couldn't leave Bicolandia without having one last ice cream session in 1st Colonial Grill. During our 1st day, we ordered the level 2 spicyness of the Sili ice cream. For our last day, we mustered the spicyness of the level 3 Sili ice cream. If you are not fond of eating spicy food, better just stick with level 2. =) Since I love eating cucumbers, I ordered 2 scoops of Pipino ice cream and level 3 Sili ice cream.
* Brunch: Php 135.00 + Php 24.00 (drinks) = Php 159.00/person
* Ice cream: Php 89.00/person (assorted flavors)



1100 AM - We traveled back to Twilight Zone Hotel to get our baggage and rode a tricycle going the Legazpi Airport.
* Tricycle: Php 100.00 = Php 33.33/person
* Entrance ticket in the airport: Php 20.00 = 6.67/person

1200 PM - It is time to part ways with Mt. Mayon and the Caramoan Islands. We waited for our flight back to Cebu with mixed feelings of sadness and happiness but still grateful with the happy experience during our Bicolandia adventures.

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Thank you Bicolandia for the wonderful experience! ❤️

Where to next??!??


-Jen

Adventures in Bicolandia: Aboard the Bicol Express! Part 1

Hello everyone! Just arrived from our Bicol trip and I can't wait to share my experiences with all of you. This trip was the most spontaneous (so not me!) since my friends and I never booked a hotel beforehand. When I go on trips, I usually carry with me a paper with the list of itineraries written on it but because of my busy days at work before this trip I just let my friends carry out my destiny during this trip. =D We only looked for a hotel/inn when we got to Legazpi City, Naga City and Caramoan. I will be highlighting the expenses and important parts each day so you could also budget your future Bicol trip. So here is a detailed itinerary of the things we did in Albay and CamSur.

Day 1: January 7, 2014 (Hello! Mt. Mayon!)
1:00 PM - Arrival in Legazpi Airport from Mactan Cebu Airport. We hired a van going to 1st Colonial Grill restaurant in Pacific Mall. You can also ride a tricycle going to Pacific Mall but I'm not sure how much is the fare.
* Fare: PHP 100 for 3 persons = Php 33.33/person

1:20 PM - Arrival in 1st Colonial Grill in Pacific Mall.
* 1st Colonial Grill restaurant is a must try when you visit the Bicol region. It offers a variety of Bikolano cuisines such as the famous Bicol Express, Laing and Pinangat. From all the Bicol Express I tasted during this trip, 1st Colonial Grill has the best Bicol Express so don't you dare miss this. If you are an ice cream lover, don't forget to try out their different unique ice cream flavors like the famous Sili ice cream but don't worry if you are not fond of eating spicy food because they offer spicyness of the Sili ice cream in 3 levels. They also offer Pipino, Kamote, Kalamansi, Pili, Malunggay, Tinutong na Bigas flavors. My favorite was the Pipino and Sili ice cream. Each viand costs around Php 150.00 up. Our total bill was Php1,037 for 3 persons = Php 345.66/person




2:20 PM - After we ate our lunch in 1st Colonial Grill, we proceeded to the Legazpi Grand Central Bus Station. Today, we were supposed to be travelling to Caramoan but we had to spend the night in Naga City.
*Tricycle fare: Php 8.00/person
  Bus fare:        Php 130.00/person
Travelling by bus took us 5 hours! So I suggest you take the van since it is much faster (around 3 hours). Fare for the van is Php 140.00.

2:30 PM - Depart from Legazpi City to Naga City

6:30 PM - Arrival in Naga City, Camarines Sur.
We stayed at Sogo Hotel just beside the Naga City Bus Terminal. We availed the 10 hours stay to save money.
*Hotel rate: Php 939.00 for 3 persons = Php 313.00/person




7:00 PM - After we left our bags in the hotel, we went to SM City Naga to buy our toiletries.
We ate our dinner in Red Platter in Magsaysay Ave. Naga City. Magsaysay Ave is a food strip in Naga City. We ordered their best seller, Kare-Kare, together with Pinangat and Bicol Express.
* Tricycle fare: Php 8.00/person
   Total bill: Php 800.00 for 3 persons = Php 266.67/person




8:45 PM - Went back to Sogo Hotel and checked in around 9:00 PM so we could check out 7:00 AM the next day. (10 hours only)
* Tricycle fare: Php 8.00/person


Day 2: January 8, 2014 (Survivor Caramoan!)
6:00 AM - Checked out in Sogo Hotel and depart to the van terminal going to Sabang.
* Tricycle fate: Php 8.00/person

6:39 AM - Arrived in the van terminal.
* Van fare: Php 100.00/person

7:00 AM - Depart to Sabang. The van driver waited for more passengers so we departed 30 minutes later.

8:41 AM - Arrived in Sabang and travel to Guijalo, Caramoan. Sabang has no port so the motorized pump boat docks in the seashore. Passengers had to hop on a "man made float" to reach the pump boat.
* Boat fare: Php 120.00/person
   Float: Php 10.00/person







10:32 AM - Arrived in Guijalo, Caramoan. We still had to find an inn to stay and the tricycle driver brought us to Island View Lodge in Paniman, Caramoan. Travel time from Guijalo to town proper is around 1 hour.
* Tricycle fare: Php 300.00 = Php 100.00/person




11:45 PM - Arrived in Island View Lodge. The lodge we stayed had walls like a bahay kubo. The rate was reasonable since our room only had an electric fan and a CR.
* Lodge rate: Php 1,500.00 for 2 nights = Php 500.00/person for 2 nights (just HAGGLE)





Island hopping in the Caramoan Islands takes 2 days. Upon arrival in Island View, the attendant asked us what we would eat when we reach one of the islands since we have to stay there and have our little picnic. We ordered one big fish for Php 250.00 plus Php 100.00 for a kilo of rice and sawsawan. There were 2 boatmen and a tour guide who accompanied us during our island hopping. We visited the islands of Matukad and Lahos. We also visited the extension island of Gota Village Resort where Survivor staffs and crew stayed during the production of Survivor within the islands.
* Island Hopping rates 1st day: Php 1,500.00 = Php 500.00/person 
* Island Hopping rates 2nd day: Php 2,000.00 = Php 666.67/person
* Tour guide:                              Php 1000.00 for 2 days = Php 333.33/person
* Fish and Rice:                          Php 350.00 = Php 116.67/person
* Fresh Buko juice:                     Php 25.00/person
12:30 PM - Started island hopping. DON'T FORGET to bring sunblock!




Matukad Island




Lahos Island


I wasn't able to take a picture of the extensin island of Gota Village Resort.

5:00 PM Went back to Island View Lodge. There is no electricity in Caramoan from 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM EVERYDAY.


Day 3: January 9, 2014 (Survivor Caramoan!)
8:30 AM -  Start 2nd day island hopping. These islands are far from one another so we have to allot a day for this trip.




Cotivas Island






Sabitang Laya Island
* Fish and rice:  Php 200.00 = Php 66.67/person
* Fresh Buko juice: Php 25.00/person

2:00 PM - That concludes our Caramoan Island Hopping! There was no electricity when we got back to Island View Lodge, so you better bring something/someone you could kill time with.

4:30 PM - A trip will never be complete without a souvenir so we visited Tribe Camp Souvenir Shop. You can buy T-shirts, native bags, Pili nuts, key chains and most of all Survivor souvenirs!
* Souvenirs: Php 500.00







This will be it for now. Stay tuned for part 2.



-Jen




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Adventures in Bicolandia: Albay and Camarines Sur

Every Pinoy traveller's bucketlist is to visit the magnificent Mayon Volcano. I am grateful to achieve this bucketlist trip after my Ilocandia trip (also a in my bucketlist) last 2014.



We are headed to the Bicol region. The region is composed of 4 provinces, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Albay. We only visited Albay and Camarines Sur.

My friend booked us a Cebu Pacific fare promo last August 2015. Other than the Mayon Volcano, I also wanted to visit the Caramoan Islands since I loved watching the reality series, Survivor (USA). The municipality of Caramoan rose into the international spotlight when the Survivor series started shooting there for a number of seasons. Survivor franchises from different countries such as Bulgaria, France, India, Israel and Serbia also started shooting in Caramoan which boost the tourism in the island. Every Survivor fan should visit this place. They also have a souvenir shop named Tribe Camp Souvenir Shop. Each team in the Survivor series is called a Tribe and each tribe will have their Camp in an island. An immunity idol was also displayed in the shop but the attendant didn't know from what season or country was the immunity idol from.

If you are a food and chili lover, Bicol is the right place to be. I will have separate entry for food trips.




One thing I noticed in Albay and CamSur is the cleanliness of the province. Almost every corners of the street and streams of water around the province or at least the ones I have passed when travelling were clean. Small streams of water were free of garbage. If there were any garbage it was manageable to clean up. I hope Bicolanos will maintain this cleanliness as they lean towards industrialization and commercialization of the region.




I will have a separate blog entry for our itinerary.

As of now, we are in Legazpi Airport waiting for our flight back to Ubec. This will be it for now.  


-Jen