Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Viaje Del Sol - Take Two

I enjoyed our 1st Viaje Del Sol weekend roadtrip so much that I had to do it again. This time, with my parents and brother in tow.

Taking the 2nd trip with my parents, we decided to take it a bit more slowly. We spent more time per stop and opted to spend the night in San Pablo, Laguna. My brother and I took a leave on June 8th, Friday. Ariel can't leave work so he just followed in the evening.

Just as in my first trip, we started with breakfast at Kusina Salud in San Pablo (call 0921-7726985 or 049-2466878 to reserve). Again, great location, though breakfast was just average. Took a lot of pictures and spent more time just relaxing in this pretty place.

My parents and younger brother

Daing na bangus for my dad

Adobo Flakes (not!) for my brother and mom

Longganisa for me

Familia Saavedra

We dropped by Pilar Plants and Novelties, still within the compound of Kusina Salud. We checked out their antique stuff. But what caught my attention were the previously owned books. I bought a few of them for a song! Mainly children's books that reminded me of my own childhood. Ha!

We headed off to Ugu Bigyan's pottery in Tiaong, Quezon (call Ugu at 0917-5605708 to reserve), a bit early for lunch but we wanted to hang out a bit before lunch.

Some ceramic pots waiting to be fired in the kiln

Lunch was superb as before. Oh, forgot to mention that Ugu serves lunch for a minimum of 5 persons at P400 each. Since there's only 4 of us, we had to pay P2000. Not bad actually given the serving size and the quality of the food. Really worth it.

Yummy Paco (Fern) Salad

Steaming hot fresh corn soup

Fork-tender grilled (or baked) ribs

Crisp and tangy fish with mango salsa

Crisp-tender calamares


We didn't have the mussels last time. This one was cooked with some veggies. A bit salty but nonetheless great. Sorry the picture does not do it justice. It got too cloudy by the time the mussels were served so I didn't get good natural light for this photo.


By the time dessert was served, we couldn't take a bite anymore. Instead of fresh mangoes, we were served a cup of fruit salad instead. Sorry, no pictures - too full to do anything at this point. LOL!

One of Ugu's wind chimes

Dad caught a bug - literally!

After lunch we hung out for a while, relaxing and taking in the lovely scenery. I lusted after one of Ugu's wall decors. It sells for P9000 which I thought was kinda steep. I actually saw it the last time I was here but opted not to get it then. It's still there beckoning me to take a closer look, touch it, imagine it on our wall. Since Ariel isn't with me, I decided not to get it at that time (I actually brought money in the off-chance I'd see it again - Haha!).

Off we went to Rockpoint Hotel in San Pablo where we reserved a family room for the night (0917-8505505). We got a room that accommodates five (5) people at P3,500. That includes welcome drinks and breakfast!!! I'm so glad Casa San Pablo is fully booked. Otherwise, we would have spent P1,500 per head excluding breakfast. Our room was adequately sized. There were five single beds, a small table, a TV, a few chairs. The bathroom has two shower enclosures and two toilet cubicles. There were two big dresser cabinets and a hanging rack for clothes. The room and amenities were basic but for the price, I thought it's real value for money. After all, we just needed a place to spend the night. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant - forgot what we ordered. By ten pm, Ariel arrived and we enjoyed an hour's massage at the spa. It was pretty good.

The next day, we dropped by Ugu again to get the wall decor which we got at a discount (P8000). Then we went to Earthkeeper's Garden and Restaurant (042-5457112) in Tiaong, Quezon for lunch and some plant shopping - my mom loves plants!!!

Torch plant - got a few of these for P35 each

Ariel and me in one of Earthkeeper's wooden gazebos

The menu

Ginataang Kalabaw - my first time to try the meat. Yummy!

Grilled liempo (one of the best I tasted) and Laing (a bit too salty but great with rice)

We also ordered tinola made of native chicken and sinaing na isda but I wasn't able to take pictures. We bought plants, suman, some pots, too. By 2pm, we were ready to head home.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Discovering Malapascua Island

I first heard about Malapascua in the late 1990s. Since then, I vowed I will someday visit the island. Nearly 10 years later, I finally found myself stepping into the shores of this beautiful dive paradise.

From Bantayan Island, we took an outrigger and sailed 3 hours to Malapascua Island. We paid P2,500 for the boat ride which was uneventful, but very long. My butt and legs ached from sitting for so long, and my ears still buzzed from 3 hours of sitting beside the boat engine. The last few minutes of the trip was a bit rough with the waves giving us a bit of excitement. Finally, land!!! Or should I say, "Sand!"

Some locals greeted us and offered to take our backpack as we walk towards Exotic Island Resort - the best in the island, or so it says on the internet. We refused, thinking it will be a short walk. However, a few minutes of sinking my feet into the powdery white sand with a ton of luggage on my back - ok, maybe it was just a few kilos, but it's noon time, I was hungry and the sun was scorching hot - I am beginning to feel like the weight of the world was upon me. Fortunately, the guys followed us and seeing me straining under the weight of my bag, one guy insisted on helping me. "Mam, di po ako magpapabayad (Mam, I won't ask you to pay me)." And so I swallowed my pride and accepted his offer of help. Soon, we found ourselves checking in. As it was the only room left (we had reservations), we took a small fan room by the beach, with a request to be transfered to a de luxe aircon room as soon as one was vacated. We were staying 4 days and we want to be comfortable.
A coconut tree in front of our cottage

Right in front of our fan room

The room was small, furnished with a double bed, a small table for our stuff, an open cabinet where we can hang clothes. The toilet and shower is separated from the sleeping area with a wall, but not enclosed with a door. While the island was breezy, the temperature was a bit warm and the electric fan hardly helped.

Right in front of our cottage

On our first day, after lunch (a plate of Bam-I noodles and fried chicken) and a quick nap, we decided to explore the island on foot (same thing we did at Bantayan). We wanted to check out if there are places where we can eat other than at the resort we are staying in. The first thing I did was approach the front desk and asked how to get to the main road. I was met with a blank stare, and was told that they don't have a main road. The main mode of land transport, if any, is "habal-habal" or motorcycle. No thanks! We were told that there is a "path" for the transportation, and if we ever get lost, we can just go out to the beach and follow the shoreline back to the resort. Are they kidding? How can we get lost in such a small island?

This is the main road!

We're lost!!!

It didn't take long for us to get lost. There are no roads, no perimeter fences around the houses, no clear path for the motorcycles, and certainly no clear path for walking tourists! So, we ended up getting out into the beach and just followed the shoreline back to Exotic Island Resort. We actually saw some nice dining places but we were afraid to venture out at nighttime for fear of not finding our way back to the resort. We shared the dining area with the rest of the guests and we were the only Filipinos. The resort is clearly popular among divers from all over the world - Europeans, Americans, Asians.

The following day, April 18th, our 6th wedding anniversary, we went around the island by boat and explored the marine life. After breakfast (tocino and tapa - not that good - we should have opted for the American or continental meals which are their specialties), we rented an outrigger to take us to the popular snorkeling spots around the island.

Ariel going under

That's me having a blast!

A Spanish era shipwreck - Creepy!!!

Dakit-Dakit Island

When we got back from our morning adventure, we were pleased to know that an aircon room was made available. By noontime, we were happily settled in a cool, well-furnished, more spacious room. This one not only has aircon, but to my husband's pure delight, it has cable TV!!! Seriously, I don't know why we need TV when we have the best view nature has to offer. Oh well!

Weeks before our trip, I already made arrangements with the resort staff to set up dinner by the beach on our anniversary night. It was going to be a surprise for Ariel. That afternoon, at around 5pm, I saw a table being set up by the beach, away from the resort dining area (which is practically beach front also). All of a sudden, I got so self-conscious and I began to doubt if this was a good idea. So, against my better judgment, I told Ariel about the plan. Haha. I told him I have a surprise for him. When he asked what, I told him to look at the lone table by the beach. I told him it's for us. He was shocked, and just like me, he felt a little self-conscious. We decided to do it anyway.

Our 6th anniversary dinner

True enough, people who were getting back from the beach were looking at us with smiling faces, wondering what the special occasion was. We had a full course meal - soup, seafood, veggies, dessert. We also had some drinks - San Mig Light for Ariel and Bailey's for me! We had a blast!!! This, by far, had been our best anniversary dinner ever! Mouth-watering food. Excellent ambience - what can be better than dinner by the beach with your table lit up by stars and candles? Happy memories (can't believe it's been 6 years!). Great conversation. High hopes for the future. It was truly a blessing for us to be celebrating our anniversary this way. God has been really good to us.

On our third day, we decided to go scuba diving. Malapascua is famous for its tresher sharks. But I don't feel quite ready to face sharks yet. So I'm just glad we went to a shark free area. Nonetheless, there's still a lot of life going on, and the seascape was just so marvelous.

Ariel in a sandy spot

I'm A-OK!

Weird-looking fish

Another weird fish

These urchins are giving me the creeps! They're looking right at me!!!

A crawling creature

A magnificent fish

Natural aquarium

Back on solid ground, Ariel and I spent our last afternoon on the island just lazing around by the beach. We soaked in the warm sea water, walked by the shore and took some photos.

Lovely, sandy feet

Enjoying the lazy afternoon

Exploring the fishing village

Ang sweet!

Savoring our last few hours on this beautiful island

The following morning, we took a boat going to Maya port. Alex (the cab driver who took us to Hagnaya on our way to Bantayan Island) was waiting to take us back to Cebu City. The two hour drive was uneventful but we're already exhausted from our adventures in the past few days. As expected, we dozed off as soon as we left the port.

We decided to spend a night in Cebu City so Ariel can buy his Cebu-made guitar (I honestly don't know why he needs a new one considering he already has two really good, branded units - but I really can't complain considering my scrapping hoard. LOL!). After checking in and taking lunch at the hotel, we took a cab to Mandaue to buy the guitar. Happy to get his new guitar, I was able to drag Ariel to dinner with a Cebu-based friend. We ate at one of my favorite dining spots - AA Restaurant in Lahug. Fresh seafood and sweet-spicy Cebu chorizo, grilled to perfection! Lapu-Lapu cooked the Cebuano way - tinola! Yummy!!! One of the many reasons why I love going back to Cebu.

Thus ended another great adventure. Looking forward to seeing more of Cebu's beautiful islands. Next on our list - Moalboal and Camotes Island. Can't wait!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lakbayan Grade

My Lakbayan grade is C+!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

I came across this link and I took the quiz. While my hubby and I have long ago decided to explore the islands of the Philippines, I realized that we have a long way to go! There's just so many places to see locally.

You've already seen my recent posts about our trip to Bantayan Island. Have yet to share our Malapascua trip. Watch out for it.

Love our beautiful country!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Leaving Bantayan Island

On our last day, I woke up at 5:00 am to take sunrise shots. I've already posted about my favorite shot but let me share a few more.

Just before the sun came out

Out at last!

The sun hiding behind the clouds

That's me!!!

By 8:15, we boarded the outrigger that would take us to Malapascua. We looked back and said farewell to the beautiful island of Bantayan. Until next time.