Travel Sale Fair in Manila

I think, everybody is thrilled to hear about sale and discounts. Who doesn’t want to get more by paying less? Travel enthusiasts and wanderers should try attending a travel fair.

We arrived at the Philippines’ World Trade Center in the afternoon. We paid P100 for the registration and entrance fee. There were long lines everywhere, starting with the registration booth, lines for those who wanted to withdraw money from the ATMs, line at the photo booth and for the travel bidding. Entering the venue, it exuded so much excitement and busyness. Looking around, everyone has his own itinerary. Trying to resolve inquiries on travel bookings, hotel reservations and adventure trips. There are a lot of booths for travel agencies that offer different kinds of services like booking domestic and international flights, visa processing, tours and other related travel packages. A few number of booths were also selling travel accessories, travel gears, traveling bags and luggage. And wait! Do not forget the discounts went as much as 80% less the original price.

It was the first time I attended a travel fair and I felt overwhelmed with the discounts that each travel booth offers. I discovered new travel destinations within the country. I also got acquainted with the new airline companies that started to service different tourist destinations in the Philippines. I noticed the participation of Philippines Airlines, Cebu Pacific Airlines, Air Asia, AirSwift and SkyJet Airlines.

In the venue, you get to feel how vibrant the people are, trying to get the most from their budgets. There was no haggling definitely because they had fixed discount prices but when you get to have a nice chat with your travel agent you might still get a little more deductions. We had it! It’s an absolute delight.

Trying to get some leaflets and brochures from different booths made me think that there’s still so much to explore. Still so many stories to write and tell. Different faces, different places and different experiences. Every place has something very unique to offer.

I can now feel a slight adrenaline rushing through my veins by just thinking of the tour we booked in the travel fair. I will be traveling with a good friend who appreciates anything new to her eyes and I like it. I am sure we’ll enjoy and get a new kind of adventure there.

Traveling makes me humble, have some fun and grateful.

 

Paguriran Island and Lagoon, Bacon Sorsogon, Phils.

Taking a time out from work for a short time is a life’s sparkle. It colors some dull views with bright shades and tickles our human senses.

It was a decade ago since I last visited Sorsogon City, one of the rich cities in Bicol region. In August, I had a 3-day vacation from work and I decided to spend them in the province. So, I traveled from Manila to my hometown, Legazpi City.

Let’s start the route from Legazpi City. The van terminal to Sorsogon is located in Legazpi City Public Market. The fare is P75 per passenger. The travel time could take up to 2 hours depending on the traffic situation along the way. For first time travelers, it is best to let the driver know that you’re going to the Paguriran Beach or Lagoon. In that way, the driver will know where to drop you off. The van should stop in front of the famous Chowking food chain. From there, cross the road to reach the jeepney terminal for Sawangga via Bacon proper route. It is approximately 1-hour travel time from the terminal to Paguriran beach.

It is recommended that you bring food and water with you because there are not much options when you get there. The entrance fee is P5 per visitor and the Nipa hut houses minimum rent is P50. There are videoke sets available for rent as well. However, if you just wanted to have a serene stay near the beach, I would suggest that you go to this island during weekdays. The fact is, a lot of people would want to sing out loud on weekends and the noise from these machines and people singing will be disruptions to your relaxation.

When it is low tide, the beach front is too rocky. You need to walk a little father to reach the lagoon and the part of the beach where there is shallow water for non-swimmers. Do not forget to wear slippers or some footwear to protect your feet from getting pricked. However, the sand was impressively white and fine when we got to the part of the beach where there’s almost no small or big rocks.

Reaching the lagoon, it’s not quite the way I expected it to appear. Nevertheless, it was still stunning! We climbed up the rocky hill to see the view of the lagoon from the top. Climbing to the top was a challenge because the rocks are uneven, rough and have sharp ends which in turn can hurt you. From the top, you will have a view of the lagoon and its surroundings. You will have the feeling that your eyes are great assets in living a life that is blessed and colorful.

 

Discovering Majestic Mount Mayon

Albay province is the beautiful, rich and green piece of island I live in the Philippine archipelago. I always thought that I have already seen so much that I need not go any farther to know more of the place I live in. Alas, my mind was just confined to the places I was familiar with.

The usual view of the majestic Mayon when I go out of the house or going to the farm near us is nothing but ordinary for me. It’s like a routine, nothing really special!

Years ago, when the adventurous part of me was awakened and I started to wander around places. It struck me to know that I never cared discovering my place a lot of people dreamt of seeing. I have seen a lot of foreigners come and go whose reactions seeing Mount Mayon up close appeared overacting for me. That’s how unappreciative I was. Funny and ungrateful me, I know! (Hahaha)

Let me give you some brief and substantial tour on how to get closer to the perfect cone Mount Mayon in the province of Albay. To add up, Mayon volcano is one of the active volcanoes in the Bicol region.  It definitely will be helpful that before going for a hike to see Mayon, we have a confirmation that it is safe to go. Nothing to lose if we secure safety first.

Traveling from Manila, there are two options of reaching Mount Mayon. Traveling by air is through Cebu Pacific & Philippine Airlines or traveling by bus through Alps, DLTB, Cagsawa Travel and Tours, Victory Liner and etc. The bus terminals are located in Araneta Cubao, Quezon City.  Travel by plane is approximately 1 hour and by land is about 10-12 hours depending on the time you left Manila and the traffic along the way. Either way, the destination is Legazpi City, Albay.

Once landed or reached Legazpi, it’s time to look for a cozy place to stay. It is advisable to check for hostels or hotels first before leaving Manila so, you don’t have to fret looking for one when you arrive. There are a lot of budget friendly Inns, hostels and hotels around Legazpi.

Be ready to hike before the sun rises. Wear something comfortable for a long walk or trekking. Protect yourself from the scorching sun. From Legazpi, to reach Bonga (the place you start the hike) you can ride a jeepney or rent a tricycle. Best option is renting a tricycle. It would only cost about P100 and it is less hassle. While a jeepney ride would cost about P15 per pax, it will not get you to the destination on time because the drivers normally would wait for the seats to be filled in. The trek will start at the dike which is the border between Brgy. Bonga and Mabinit. A Barangay (brgy.) is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward.

It would take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach Mount Mayon Black Lava Zipline Adventure stop. There are ATVs for rent as well. I haven’t tried it though but I think it would also be so much fun to ride on and explore a few more places around. I preferred hiking and a little running to reach the top. At the peak of the black lava which already turned to stones, there is a helipad. This was meant for those who did not want to go through hiking or riding ATVs or those who will only do surveys of Mayon’s activity. At the top, the view of the city below is breathtaking and stunning. It pretty much compensates all the sweats to reach the top.

Mount Mayon is just amazing from afar and up close!

Foods and places you must try when you’re in Legazpi.

  • Chili Ice Cream at Colonial Grill in Pacific Mall
  • Albay Park & Wildlife
  • Lignon Hill Nature Park in Legazpi
  • Cagsawa Ruins
  • Authentic Bicol Express (Food)

 

Hundred Islands National Park

If you love island hopping and never care to be roasted under the scorching sun then, be ready because the Philippines is the place to be! Wander and hop from island to island all day. According to National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the Philippines now has 7,641 islands but around 2,000 are only inhabited.

Speaking of islands, not far from Manila is a bountiful province of Pangasinan. The Hundred Islands National Park is located in the City of Alaminos. It was documented that the islands are scatted in Lingayen Gulf, total to 124 at low tide and 123 at high tide. Four islands have been developed for tourism: Governor Island, Quezon Island, Marcos Island and Children’s Island. Most islands are like broccoli formed when observed from an elevated position.

For backpackers and travelers who are using public transportation, I will provide the travel itinerary based on experience. As most travelers will agree, traveling is sometimes really stressful especially when things don’t go according to plans. Time is very significant.

Take Victory Bus Liner trip to Alaminos from Cubao terminal. The fare is P400 and the travel time is 5-6 hours depending on the time the bus left or the traffic along the way. I normally travel early in the morning because there is less traffic and I find it faster to get to the destination. If you arrive in Alaminos late in the morning, it is not advisable for you to still go the Hundred Islands Park. The best part of enjoying the view to the park is by starting it very early in the morning. You get to the see the stunning beauty of the sun while rising.

There are transient houses at the pier, hostels and hotels in the city. Decide where to stay depending on the budget. The tricycle drivers approaching those they think are tourists in the city offer places to stay like transient houses. You may check them out because they’re considerably cheap but comfortable if you travel in group. The room prices could range from P1000 to P1500 per night.

The Alaminos’ Tourism office is along the road and is located at the park. Any inquiry about the boat prices, where and what to do in the Hundred Islands are welcome there. A few meters from the office is the line of tricycles that can take you to the Lucap wharf for P15 per way. To reach the wharf is approximately 10 minutes ride. There is a registration fee per tourist and a form that needs to be filled out at the Lucap wharf. The boat rental fee is 1500 and that is for the whole day if you decide to stay longer. Bring some food and water on the boat because the food prices in the park are significantly expensive.

The boat driver will be your tour guide as well. They normally provide brief backgrounds of some islands in the park. They’re pretty informative and helpful. If you even get lucky, you will hear detailed folklore stories from them.

 

Remote Paradise of Anawangin Cove

Ah, the smell of the sea… the waves crashing on the shorelines. So calming and inviting even when you don’t know how to swim, isn’t it?

Beaches never failed to excite me all the time. I have been to Anawangin Cove a few times already since 2011. At that time, the place was still undeveloped and unspoiled. Though, it is undeniably a paradise ‘til now. Back then, there was no electricity or generator being used to light up the place or water pump. There was no sari-sari store where you can buy coffee or food in the island too. Now, there’s one store available that sells basic needs. Also, there is already an extended campsite which can accommodate more campers. The campsite and the beach are crowded on holidays and weekends. Additional shower and comfort rooms for men and women have been built for use. It is pretty much well organized this time as compared to the early years.

Traveling from Manila, I normally ride Victory Bus Liner going to Olongapo from Cubao via SCTEX for P235. From Olongapo Victory Bus Liner terminal, I ride a non-air conditioned bus to Iba or Sta. Ana, Zambales for P40 and get off at San Antonio Proper. If you do not want to transfer buses, call Victory Bus Liner to know exactly when their schedules are for buses traveling to Iba or Sta. Cruz Zambales or check their website. Just ask the bus conductor to drop you off at San Antonio Proper or just tell them that you’re heading to Anawangin Cove.

 In San Antonio Proper, there’s another tricycle ride for P35-P40 per passenger each way to reach Pundaquit beach. Before going to Pundaquit, ensure that you have the supplies you need like food, water or even toiletries. There is a 7-eleven store or local sari-sari stores close to where the tricycles park. Not far from 7-eleven, there are stalls where fried and roasted chickens are sold. The store at the beach only sells basic necessities like coffee, biscuits, shampoo, bathing soap, etc. Be prepared because these might not be available if they run out of supplies. But hey! there are ice drop vendors at the beach which will help you quench your thirst in the middle of the scorching heat.

Once you have everything you need, talk to the tricycle driver to make the arrangements of boat rental for you. The boat rental fee is P1500 round trip. If you did not bring a tent with you, the rental fee for a small tent is P100 to P150 but if you need a bigger tent, it should cost you more or double. Remind the boatman when you wanted to come back or be picked up.

At the cove, you can have a walk to the other campsite through a wood bridge. The reason why there is a bridge is because there is a small lake that separates these two campsites. There, you can take selfies and groupies as what everyone loves or just take a walk to enjoy the view and its fresh air.

At night, there’s not much activity you can do. It is advisable to bring a flashlight, power bank and portable speaker so you can also listen to some good music while waiting to fall asleep or even while having some nice conversations with friends or family. A bonfire at night is majestic!

In the morning, I recommend that you climb the hill at the beach. In the last 4 visits I did, I never tried it but when I did the last time – I promise, you will not regret it. The view of the surrounding beaches is stunning. Beautiful it is! You’ve got to try it too.

 

Captivating Malaysia

Salaam-Alaikum”, “selamat pagi” are the first words I learned when I first landed in Malaysia. The country is divided into two parts, East and West Malaysia (Kota Kinabalu & Kuala Lumpur). Majority of the people living in Malaysia are Muslims. However, there are Indian, Chinese temples and Catholic churches existing in the country. Ringgit is the currency of Malaysian money. The travel time to KL is approximately 3 hours & 45 minutes from the Philippines by plane and lands in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. KLIA2 is the airport for low cost airlines.

Petronas’ eighty-eight story Twin Tower located at the City center is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Kuala Lumpur. It can be reached via train or cab. It is most attractive at night when the lights are on. At the ground floor of the tower is a shopping center comprised of famous local and international brands. You may check out their food courts where you can have variety of options. You’ll have to buy a card and top it up so you can choose any type of food available. I bet you’ll never go hungry if you just roam around the place. Just located near KLCC is the Central market established since 1888. This is a hub for jewelry shops, textiles, chocolate stores, perfumes, accessories, local & foreign clothing brands, shoes, antique stores, money changers, some restaurants and etc.

If you’re looking for some mild adventure then, I suggest you head to Batu Caves. Riding a train from KL Sentral to Batu Caves is the most economical way. Never lose the reason why you’re traveling. Talk to the locals or the security personnel and ask which way you should go to reach Batu Cave. Wait for the Komuter Train on platform 3 and remember that Batu Cave is the 8th station from KL Sentral. You may also check Uber as an option to reach Batu Cave. I had a tour to the Dark Cave for 35 RM but there wasn’t much extraordinary to see there – just the feel of the adrenalin rush from the total darkness inside. Climbing the steep 272 stairs to reach the Temple and Dark Caves is a real challenge. There are friendly and naughty monkeys all over the place. Be attentive around monkeys because they could just grab stuff from you, including food. Avoid feeding them.  There are stalls and local restaurants in the area. Not far from the fountain is a tent where a lady tattoo artist offers hand temporary tattoo. I tried it! She’s artful and exceptional!

There is so much more to explore in Malaysia and I am so thrilled to try them once I get the chance to go back in the future.

 

Trek to Taal Volcano Crater

I have been to Tagaytay for few times already but has only seen Taal volcano from afar. I always thought that the volcano showing on the background of my pictures taken from the Picnic grove was really the volcano’s crater. Surprisingly, it’s not! The one visible from the grove was an inactive volcano. Taal volcano is the 2nd most active volcano in the Philippines and is located in Talisay and San Nicolas Batangas.

If you are traveling from Manila using public transportation, the fastest way to reach Tagaytay is by riding a van which terminal is located at Starmall in Shaw Boulevard. The vans normally park just in front of Chowking food chain. It can take 1 to 2 hours travel time, depending on how light or severe the traffic is. On a Saturday, we left Manila at 7:15 AM and reached Tagaytay before 9:00 AM. The fare for the van ride per passenger was P180 and we got off at Olivarez. Riding a bus is cheaper but takes longer to reach Tagaytay.

We had a stop at a restaurant in front of the Picnic grove to eat our lunch. We ordered Beef bulalo as it is the most famous specialty in Tagaytay. We also added a plate of mixed sea foods. The price for each order was P450, good for 3 persons. Not bad.

We rode a tricycle from Picnic grove to Talisay Batangas for P60 per head. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the lake side where we had to register and pay for P1500 for the boat. The boat is considerably big and can accommodate 7 to 8 passengers. The lake appeared so calm but we still had to put our life vests on. No one among us know how to swim. Also, we never expected that the boat ride will be filled with screaming and fun! It was splashy and nobody was ready to get wet with the lake water. Good thing, the boat driver offered us a plastic cover to keep us dry.

Once you get off the boat, the boat driver will guide you to the registration booth/house. Entrance fee is P100 per head. Trekking could take 45 minutes or less but still depending on how fast or slow you walk. It is always exciting and fun! A piece of advise, be ready with anything that will shield you from the heat of the sun and an extra shirt. Riding a horse could take up to 25 minutes each way. If you choose to ride a horse, you’ll pay P500. There is also a guide fee of P500 whether you are just travelling alone or with a group. Hiring a guide is mandatory. Once you reached the summit, there are Nipa houses that can be used for resting and a store that sells fresh young coconut (Buko) juice for P100 each. You can freshen up a bit just right before you go up the platform where you will have the full view of the Taal Volcano crater. It’s a breathtaking view!

On our way back to Tagaytay, we rode a tricycle and requested the driver to drop us off at the Pink sisters’ church. It is a famous church where the nuns are wearing pink habits and white veils. The church is surrounded with pine trees and the ambiance promotes serenity. If you are a Catholic Christian, you can enter the church to pray or even write your petition. Some says, prayers from first time visitors do come true, but of course it comes with faith.

You may also have side trips to Picnic grove where you can try zip line. Also, Palace in the Sky is just a few kilometers away from picnic grove. The view from the Palace is just stunningly beautiful as you will have a view of Tagaytay City from it. There are shops where you can buy some souvenirs for friends and family. Along the way, there are fruits & vegetables’ stalls and restaurants where you can stop over to buy or eat their best sellers.

 

 

Come out! Travel and Live!

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