Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pagud sa Pagudpod to La Union

I'm back balakubak! I'm here once again to give you a glimpse of my recent trip, this time to the far North. My officemate planned a trip to be a part of the Surf and Music festival that will take place in Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte. A bit of information, the name Pagudpod is a type of grass commonly found on the said place and it was formerly a part of Bangui. So let's go back to the Surf and Music Festival, it was supposed to be in Pagudpod but due to some challenges (as they say) it was moved to San Juan, La Union but since most of us have not yet experience Pagudpod we pushed through our plan with a little twist.

To get there you can ride a plane towards Laoag (45mins) and then a small bus or tricycle to Pagudpod (1 hour) but a little pricey if haven't got a promo fare. You can also ride a bus from Manila to Pagudpod (11 hours) and costs Php650. Since we are on a tight budget we tried the bus transporation and reserved tickets from Florida bus station in Cubao since that is a holiday and many commuters will go out of town. By the way you may ride a bus towards Junction and not the Pagudpod signage because it will only go as far as to the city itself and you still need to ride a tricycle but when you ride the Junction bus it will pass through the beaches itself, for further information you may ask bus station staff.
We left 5:30pm in Cubao and reached our home stay in Blue Lagoon beach about 4:30am. We just slept for about two hours and then we go to the beach that the Surf and Music Festival should take place. We thought that it will just be a long walk but it turns out to be a very very very long walk as we have to pass throught hills to go to the place (we realized that we should have ride a tricycle).
After a day of tiring walks and traveling we go back to our home stay and got ready for our Ilocos tour. We rented a van and a guide to tour us on the spots there in Ilocos Norte.
So first we visited the Saud beach which is found before the Blue Lagoon beach from there the popular windmills can be viewed.
So after the picture taking in Saud we went now to Bangui to have a clear and close view of the windmills of Ilocos Norte. It is a very fascinating sight because it is my first time to see a real windmill.
After Bangui we went to Burgos where the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is found. They said that before you can go to the rock formation itslef but because of some people vandalizing the rocks the citizens decided to prohibit tourist going to the rock formation but instead they built a view deck to the the sight.
Our last stop is the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse also in Burgos, it is one of the oldest lighthouse here in the Philippines and it is still working, though people are now prohibited on going inside the lighthouse because of security and safety reasons.

After the tour we went to Laoag to take a bus to La Union, this is the twist of our vacation. We really want to attend the festival so we pushed to go to San Juan, La Union. We rode a bus that will pass through San Juan but was a bit tiring because it was already 10pm when we got there and we have no accomodation so we still need to find one. Since there was a festival all accomodation near the beach or even the rooms are all occupied we ended up going to San Fernando a 10mins jeepney travel and rented a room at a hotel.
After unpacking we went back to San Juan to have a glimpse of the festival though it's already 11pm, we just bought some boose while listening  to the concert and went to the hotel after the concert.
About 8am we went back to the beach and some of us went surfing. This is also my first time visiting San Juan, La Union and it is a pretty neat place for surfing though I couldn't compare Baler to this place. We went back to Manila around 4pm.

Overall it might be a tiring journey but all is worthit all of the places I have visited there is really fascinating, from the windmills to the rock formation to the lighthouse. It is ok that from time to time we go to an adventure to find more beautiful places.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Coron, Palawan

Welcome me back! I am alive and kicking! hehehe. This is my first post and first vacation this year (I hope there will be more... :) ). So here I am again giving you what I experienced, saw, and encountered on my trip to the very astonishing Coron island in Palawan. You will see why we should not have mining in that place.

Just a "Did you know fact": Coron Island was previously owned by the Marcos' and after their fall it was brought back to the government. Also, while the Marcos' owned it they brought some wild life animals there, like zebras and giraffes, and cows from Australia to be breed. The grass that the cows eat are not ordinary grass they are imported also from Australia and planted there. While the other animals on another island called Calauit.

First of is how to get there:
To get to Coron you need to ride a plane. (though some local folks said that you can ride Superferry from Manila but this is very seldom because of the reefs and corals around the island. the ship sometimes is delayed by low tide forcing them to stay for while in the island.) We got our ticket from Cebu Pacific's promo last year, this was my gift to my Lablab last Christmas. From NAIA Terminal 3 we rode the plane to Busuanga airport.

Where to stay:
I made a search on Google for a possible Inn or Lodge to stay. There are several results but I picked 3 for me to decide. Since I have no idea on what to expect, I want a place to stay that is near the beach. I found Divelink Resort, this is I think the only place that is near the beach but costs about 7.5k per person for 3D/2N stay with packaged tour included. Next is Coron Village Lodge which is located in Coron town and some known personalities are staying here, it is also quite expensive about 7.2k per person (I think it is because we are just two). Then my next pick is Rudy's Place (which I will have to post some other time) the place is 3minutes away from the town proper and our package is 3.8k for the 3D/2N stay, van transfers, tours, and meals and because we will just sleep on the lodge and most probably during daytime we are touring I accepted this rate.

Day 1:
We headed to the airport 2 hours before our flight and ate our breakfast after our check-in, we were delayed for 2 hours because the plane needs to have additional servicing. Together with us are different races, from Asia, US, and Europe. After an hour flight we reached Busuanga Airport.
The terminal in Busuanga is just a small non-airconditioned place though it is quite windy but still it lacks ventilation, specially to those on the departure side, since they will be waiting to board their plane. Upon your arrival you will be given a (what I think is) survey form that you will fill-up and give them back to the person who handed you the form. Then since we have our reservation we were picked up by a van to our Lodge. It is a 30mins land travel to Coron town. After taking some reset, about 4pm we were picked up by our town tour guide (his name is Dong, which was suggested by my fellow office mate). We went to Mt. Tapyas which has 724 steps towrds the summit.
700th step

Sleeping Gianr

Mountain top
On top of it there is a big Cross and a wonderful view of Coron, were you will see the Sleeping Giant and a fascinating view of their natural resource.
After a tiring climb, we headed to Maquinit hotspring where we settled and relaxed. Then back to our lodge where we had our dinner and slept afterwards.

Day 2:
This is an exciting day because all day is an island tour. After our breakfast we got ready to go to the port. It was a very windy morning though it is not cloudy and the sun is up.
at the port
We rode a boat to our first destination Kayangan Lake. It was a little bumpy towards our destination since the wind is fairly strong and there a little waves but this will be replaced by the tranquil waters once you are near the rocky mountains.
Kayangan Lake
We reached our destination and we need to climb up the side of the mountain for us to get to the lake. In there a lot of tourist are already swimming, it was a very calming place. Around you are the rocky mountains and trees. After we got tired of swimming we went to our next destination which is the Twin Peak.
Twin Peak
Twin Peak is actualy not a mountain but a rock formation with 2 peaks and it is said that the Tagbanua (natives of the island) burry their ancestors on a cave on top but is now prohibited to climb because it is already sacred for them. We went down the boat and get our snorkeling gears ready. There we saw how rich is there aquatic resources, from live and colorful fishes to corals of different colors and variant. While we were at the sea our island guides are preparing our food in the boat. They have a built-in grilling station! Then after our snorkeling we went to Banol Beach to have our lunch.
Banol Beach
These set of beaches are taken cared of by the natives keeping them clean. After lunch we them proceed to our next destination which is another snorkeling area (I forgot the name of the place) that is just near the Banol beach.
CYC Islet
We then sail to CYC island (i do not know why they call it as such). It is just a small islet with a small beach, but is very good for photo shooting, hehehe. By the way all the beaches there are white and smooth as flour.

Then we proceeded to the Twin Lagoon which is located inside a rock formation, while going there be ready to be fascinated once more by the nature that I saw only on National Geographic or other Knowledge channels. There are two ways to enter the lagoon when it is low tide you can just swim trough a hole in between the rock formations but if not you need to go over the rock formations to get there. Inside is like the Kanyangan lake but more tranquil and calming because all around you is just rocks and trees. The water here came from the see and is cold since there is only few sunlight that some across. After that we then got to our boat and headed to the port where our ride to the lodge is waiting.

Day 3:
Our final day in Coron. This day will be our town tour. Since it is just a little town we went ahead and bought some pasalubong to our friends and family.
Then we went to their city hall and took some pictures their. After that we went to the cashew factory and tasted some freshly cooked cashew nuts, for me they differ on the nuts bought from Antipolo or here in Manila, they are simply delicious! After that I remembered by mother told me to buy a banig and then we looked for that, it was costly!
A banig is worth 600php I asked for a discount but they said it is the least that they can offer, these banig are weaved by the Tagbanuas and our guide told us that sometime you just give them used closed and they will replace it with banig.
Then we head out to eat for lunch at the Kawayanan Grill and the went back to the lodge were we waited for our van transfer to the airport.

Notes to remember:
If it is your first time to go there I will suggest to get a tour package and arrange your stay before hand.
Ensure all the inclusions of your package bought.
Mt. Tapyas is not for weak hearted! :)
Snorkeling gears are cheaper on the boat, it is only 100php than the hotel offers for 150php.
Bring an underwater camera if possible, to catch underwater scenes.
Normally you could not bring your camera in Twin Lagoon since you will be swimming to get there.
Get ready to get wet even on you boat. :)
Bring a water resistant bag is possible.

If we will be back again I want to go to the Safari! It is a 3-hour sea travel that leaves the port 4am to see the animals in the wild. :)