Tinipak River: Daraitan’s Enchanted Waters

The original plan was to climb Mount Daraitan in Rizal. But because of time constraints we ended up doing the river trek instead.

The Tinipak River is located at the foot of Mt. Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal. To get there is quite a trip, coming from Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong, you can take a jeep going to Tanay, Rizal getting off at the Tanay Market. From the market, you need to take a 1-1.5 hour tricycle ride through alternating but mostly rough road. We initially bargained for 300 pesos for a one way ride from the market to the jump off point but after going through the roads, we thought that the 400 peso price was just and right. Believe me. It was also kinda nice that our tricycle driver gave us a mini tour of Tanay, stopping at some of the vantage points where you can see the metro, the wind mills of Pililia and Monte Maria.

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The tricylce dropped us off the barangay hall where you will be registering and be assigned with a guide. The guides cost about 500 pesos who will assist you in any or all of the activities that there is in the area which includes but may not be limited to hiking up Mt. Daraitan, caving and river trekking. Before embarking for your adventure, your guide will be orienting you on the do’s and don’ts and some safety reminders.

I just have to mention that the Daraitan area, though fairly new because it just opened last year, has a really good system and their guides are well trained and knowledgeable. They are amazingly organized!

Anyways, after the orientation we decided no to take the mountain anymore due to lack of time. We started trekking and right from the start we were mesmerized by the beauty of the river. We crossed little streams and man made improvised bridges that just compliment the surroundings.

I felt like I was taken into another world, where you’d believe that fairies do exist, it isn’t that hard to believe in Daraitan actually.

After our short trek, or guide stopped for a moment on and asked us to say a short prayer.  We were about to enter the cave. I like the fact that our guide actually stopped and prayed with us, not all guides does this. As soon as we finished our prayer, he gave us few instructions  and we started descending to this small hole. It was quite cool and refreshing inside the cave with a cold breeze coming from the end, The trek.

As we got at the end (not actually the end of the cave) we were greeted by a cool pool of spring water that comes from a farther part of the cave system. We spent some time there enjoying the pool -which was very safe since it was just shallow.

We decided to to move on and continue trekking the river. The trek going to the cave was just beautiful so I couldn’t think of anything that could surprise me anymore. I was wrong. The river showed it’s  more of it’s beauty with bigger boulders and more enchanting rock formations as we continue with our trek.

I could just imagine bringing one of my brides here for a photoshoot, dressed in elegant gowns with their groom. I tell you you’ll just fall in love with the river.

Eventually, we reached a part of the river that is calm enough for the water to pool. The water was mixed warm and cold, I couldn’t distinguish where the warm water was coming from but I really enjoyed it. It was difficult to move on, from one spot to another, it was just beautiful! But we had too.

The river alone was an experience, even if we failed in our agenda to climb mount daraitan, we did not feel short changed. I’d love to comeback and stay overnight climbing trekking the river once again then climbing the mountain early in the morning the following day.

I’ll post a guide on how you can get to the Barangay Daraitan so don’t forget  to visit our site from time to time.

Mt. Hapunang Banoi: Adventure Awaits You East of Manila

You are a adrenaline junkie and it’s another weekend that you keep on struggling just what to do with it. Well that’s very similar to how my situation was, only that I am not really an adrenaline junkie!

My rest days was just a day away and I have nothing on my calendar to spend it with. Then somebody sent a message asking if I was free on those days. Hell yeah! I’d go anywhere I can afford! Hahaha!

And she got a barrage of questions from me.

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Call me kaladkarin, hahaha but it was a no brainier for me if I was to go or not.

Call Time: 4:30 AM

Location: Cubao

I arrived about thirty minutes early in Cubao, but it was almost 4:30 and I haven’t heard anything from my companions. So I hit them up with a message and found out that they left late trying to contact one of our friends. Unfortunately she never responded (turns out that she over slept – too tired from the traffic she battled with the night before)

At about 6 AM we took an FX with a Montalban (Rodriguez) – Eastwood route. Fare is about 50 pesos. Travel time was just about less than an hour. From the town junction we rode a tricycle going to the jump-off point.

We registered at the DENR office payed 20 pesos for the environmental fee, proceed to the barangay post where they collect another fee -I don’t what was that for.

With everything prepped up our guide Wowie, lead us to a trek that I’d never forget.

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The hike started by crossing a hanging bridge leading to a residential area where a steep flight of stairs welcomes you going to the real start of the trail. It was quite a warm up for us -which is good. My heart started pumping up as I started sweating.

The trail’s start was mostly an assault until your reach the resting part where you’ll see a great wall of rock. Wowie, our guide, told us that there are many rock climbers scale the wall while showing us some obscure rock formations.

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The trail is mostly covered with forest so hiking up the mountain with the Sun shining up and bright was not an issue for us. There were several resting points including the one where the junction between Mt. Hapunang Banoi and Pimintinan.

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On our trek up the mountain, I was thinking if the rocks that we were encountering were the reason why the guides ask us to bring gloves, I was like these are kinda sharp but I think I can live without the gloves.

The way up was a lot of assault, but easy ones. The first and second peaks require a bit of courage and some balancing skills. I think anyone who has some amount of courage can do it… not that technical

The highest peak of them all will be the one to test your courage and skills. Soil would disappear and the trail becomes pure lime stone rocks, nothing flat that you can walk on.

Technical? a bit, yes! Scary? quite. It takes more courage to get to the best parts. But I tell you conquer your fear and you’ll see the best views you ever see.

We finished the climb for about seven hours. Yes, blame it on my two girls. Hahaha! Peace to the two of you! But how can I blame them, we went up the mountain to experience and how can we immortalize such experience if not with photos? So hell yeah, more photos for every climb! HAHAHA!

Mt. Hapunang Banoi so far has been my most adventurous climb, I truly enjoyed it and I’d say that anyone daring enough should experience it! I know that I am not the best writer when it comes to describing mountains but trust me on this one.

Breakdown

FX Cubao-Montalban-Cubao 100

Tricycle Junction-Jump off point-Junction 90

DENR Fee 20 Pesos

Gloves – 50 (mas maganda magdala ng sariling gloves na makapal)

Guide 400 (divided by 3 )

PS I am having trouble uploading photos to my photo host, so pls just check the photos on my fb page which can be found here:

Silence: My 2015 In Review

Silence can be deafening, but with heart so silent it can hear love.

This year, I and my blog had been at it’s most silent times. Though I have announced last year that I will not travel come 2015, I did made a few short trips to take a break from my monotonous work life.

Traveling need not to be too far from home, it can be as close as a jeepney or a bus ride. What matters is that it frees up your soul from the chaos of your daily life and regain control.

With this, let me share with you the year that I have been silent with.

Tinipak River

Initial plan was to climb Mt. Daraitan but due to time constraints we opted to just do the river trek adventure. The river was enchanting with its beautiful white boulders and pristine water where you could swim. An overnight stay would have been perfect but three urbanites with so little time just doesn’t fit the puzzle.

Krysh at Tinipak River

Tinipak River

Cabangan, Zambales

My first and last team building with my FA family from San Lazaro. It was one crazy party and the beach was just the perfect place to settle after the chaos of the night that had been.

 

Pundaquit, Zambales

My aunt, uncle, cousin and her son visited on July from the states, of course we love going out so going to the beach was a no brainer. The weekend we initially planned to go out was stormy, unfortunately the following weekend was just the same, but that didn’t hinder us from having lots of fun. The waves were awesome and was just as fun to ride as it rushes to the shore.

Mt. Hapunang Banoi

Reuniting with my travel buddy Princess, we ventured to the months old trail of the newly opened mountain. It was one of the most technical climbs that I have ever done so far, but it was also the funnest and most memorable of all.

Manila Photowalk

Working on an 8 to 5 job in the concrete jungle, contained in a four walled office ain’t to fun, specially for someone who loves being nomadic at times. I needed an escape and the streets of Manila provided just the right out of the box experience for me even just for a day.

Mt. Batulao

My traveler-inside-the-office anxiety attack was at it again, bored as I am I decided to do a solo climb. Packed with two litters of water, bread, a service of street bought spaghetti and some candies. I went up the mountain alone and gone down with a bunch of friends.

Photo courtesy of Louie Cutamora

Boracay

Probably the last one this year. Hey, I am not closing my doors to any adventure till the year actually closes.. hahaha…

Anyways, The trip was on the end of November originally meant to celebrate my dad’s birthday but he bailed out for some reason (I don’t know). Nevertheless it was fun and I was glad to see the kids happy taking their first plane ride and enjoy the beach.

This year had not been the awesomest compared to the past, but this year is the reason why my 2016 will be one epic travel year.

This year had been full of triumphs, failures and heartache; but travel had been so kind to provide me a temporary escapes and moments to process things over to make sense of the things that had just happened.

The mountains gave me new friends, renewed friendships and a sanctuary for my troubled heart -yeah that’s you Batulao, thank you. The sea taught me that like waves life will always be a challenge, to make it better, farther like how it tries to reach the shores. While the city, my love, Manila reminded me of romance and beauty can be tucked in a shabby street like a person that we judge too quickly.

So thank you 2015 for keeping me sane.

Cheers to more adventures in 2016

Batanes: My Last Days

How do you face death? How do you face the day that you know would be your last? To some effect I ask these questions to my self when I am on the last day of my trip. If I were to die today what would I do. My answer? I always say I’d  like to go slow.Savor the moment, the place and try to feel and remember the feeling, the things that matter to me most and those that I would cherish when I get back to the urban jungle.

I started the day just lazying around my hostel, ate breakfast, spark a smoke and just chill and breath the fresh air.  I try to collect memories of the things that happened over the past couple of days, how I somewhat fulfilled my dreams of going to the northern most point (y’ami island) and the southern most point of my country.

The hot choco that I made from the honesty store at the gazebo of my hostel was just awesome as I sip it through the crisp morning air. It was something that I’ve always pictured my self of doing. sans the awesome view because I was beside the airport.

I did nothing special this day, wait everything was special, this is Batanes.

After having breakfast I took my rented bike and pedaled my way to Vulugan Boulder Beach. Again the terrain was very challenging but crossing with locals pedaling up hill with loads and passengers on their bike made me a bit embarrassed to get down and push my bike uphill. But I gave up, it was just too difficult.

I thought that I got lost at some point but there was just one road leader to the sea. I left my bike at the shed and walked doen the beach.

It seemed like I was an insect on a small pebble as I sat down on the huge rocks lining the beach at no particular rhythm. I felt peace as I try to feel the wind .

I stopped by the Airport for some photos but ultimately the bike ride around the town and chavayan may be the best part of this trip. To see the locals live their lives in harmony and contentment gave lessons I may not learn from books and the internet, that simplicity and contentment play an important part of our lives.

The following morning I took my bag with a heavy heart and walked to the airport the experience is about to end but the lessons are forever in my heart.

Batanes is a place for pilgrimage, a place where you commune with God, Nature and Humanity. A place where you can see the paradise that God created for humans. It is a place to be respected, left unchanged like the mountains we climb as they say Leave No Trace Behind.

When you come to Batanes, do not be the tourist that you usually are. Try to learn and respect the ways of the locals, trust me, they have more breeding than most of us urbanites.

Again respect.

Hong Kong: Avenue Of stars

Growing up, I’ve learned to love Chinese shows as well. We often watch Chinese folklore shows version of Havoc In Heaven, a book that tells a story of how a Monkey hero with some pig and other half animal save the world from evil entities, and that’s all in Mandarin -yep not dubbed in English or Filipino.

Because of this I’ve been a fan of Cynthia Luster, Chow Yun Fat, Bruce Lee, lately of Jet Li and of course my childhood hero Jacky Chan. Having a childhood of such action packed memories a Visit to the Avenue of Stars is something like a trip to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Seriously.

There’s nothing really there is to do here but to walk and see the signatures and imprints of the Chinese stars that you idolize -if you have any. Well actually let me take that back, if you don’t have any this is also the best place to see the other side of Hong Kong from Victoria Harbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Avenue of stars is worth the visit whether you are a Chinese movie fan or not, it is something not to be missed. But just a word of caution, a lot of people come here in flocks so be ready, like as in physically ready, I almost had to elbow my way in just to get a photo of me and my dad with Bruce Lee’s statue.

 

How To Get To The Avenue of Stars

Get on the MTR and get off at East TST or East Tsim Sha Tsui Station then follow the signs. There’s going to be a lot of walking so be ready. Let me just reiterate, its East Tsim Sha Tsui and not just Tsim Sha Tsui, you’ll have to walk farther if you get off at the latter.

 

Cabangan: A Short Love Story

It wasn’t we planned. Not at all to be in that place and time, but destiny pushed it self way into us.

 

We journeyed, time passed by. It seemed never ending.



We came.

 

I did not expect what I have yet to see. It was magic.

 

Night came and the moon lit the shore as the water shines like a thousand diamonds.

 

We drank and laughed like we wouldn’t have a chance to do it all over again.It was epic.

Your waves are made me dance to the peace it whispers, the simplicity it preaches and the love it exudes.

I will be back, to dance again into your arms of never ending waves. The waves of peace and joy.

 

Cabangan is a fourth class municipality in Zambales, located in northern Luzon. It can be reached through Victory Liner buses. No resort was found by the writer as of the time that he went but just a public beach unless he had not search far and wide enough.

Batanes: A Dream Come True (Day 2)

Today typhoon Ruby is passing through central Philippines and the weather has dropped on the 20’s reminding me of my Ivatan winter. I woke up on my early on my second day, just right before sunrise and the weather was just freezing. I need to catch the jeep that takes passengers to Ivana port, the gateway to Sabtang Island.

I walked down the pier and on corner where jeep usually passes as it exits the town. i was getting nervous, its almost 6:30 am and the jeep is no where in sight. I was beginning to think that I had missed the trip already. I asked a local passing by if I did missed the trip already, I was assured that I hadn’t yet.

After a few minutes more I saw the jeep. I took the front seat so I can get a good view of the route. Travel time is just about 30 – 45 minutes fare is about 50 – 75 pesos (can’t remember the exact amount). To get to Ivana Port, you’ll be passing through the route to Mahatao and go further a few kilometers north more.

The router is scenic, as expected. Expect nothing less from Batanes.

Before we reached the port, the driver handed out a manifesto. It turned out that the driver also acts as an agent for the Falowa that would take us to Sabtang. It is actually great because it would make it impossble for his passenger to miss the trip to the island! hahaha.

I was early to arrive at the port and the Falowa was not yet there. But there were things to do just near the port. Across the port the San Jose de Ivana Church stands. The front doors were open, so I stepped in and explored the church. Inside was dark, but the light from the doors illuminate the interiors just enough for your eyes to adjust to and let you see.

Most if not all of the churches in Batanes dates back from the spanish era, I may be wrong but I didn’t see any new churches while I was there. Anyway, after checking out the church I crossed back to the port side of the street and got some snacks from the famous honesty store just right beside the port.

The famous honesty store is a small shack off the road that you can just walk in to take some stuff and leave your money in a jar. If you are honest it feels just okay nothing biggie, but if you are like me -a city guy that trusts almost no one from the urban jungle- it’s actually amazing to a certain point that some would be baffled why would someone leave their store like that! Well, it’a an honesty store something that is not special for Ivatans because it is the way they live but it is something that makes them special.

My falowa arrived and everybody started boarding. Unlike in other parts of the Philippines people here follow laws. Despite the excellent track record of the falowa of having zero casualty, the boat crew and the coast guard still makes sure that everyone is accounted for in the manifesto and are wearing life jackets.

The falowa docked on the port and I was on my own again. I walked around the area to check out what are there to see, it was the island’s center. You can stay for the night in this area by sleeping at the dorm type accommodation at the tourism office. I stepped inside and asked for directions going to the “Barrio” where some of my friends are staying.

They asked me to pay for Php 200 for the tourism fee which I don’t which or what the tourism fee materializes into but just thought of it that I gave it out of goodwill, I mean it is a sleepy town not much economy goes around the island (and for me it is it’s charm, its provincial atmosphere) so I guess it’s fine for me to pay the cost.

They offered me a ride for 300 pesos from the port to the barrio, which is popularly known as the Chavayan Village, it is where the movie Batanes is said to be shot. I didn’t think twice cause it felt that it was reasonable. The road to chavayan is rough along the way you’ll be passing by spots where you can stop and enjoy for your self. That is what I  like about not being in group tours, if I go around on my own I can stop where I want to and leave when I want to, it is a bit more expensive but I say it is worth it. The driver of the habal-habal told me that the 300 pesos that I paid for is good for a return trip to the center but I asked him to leave as I was joining my friends who were staying in the barrio. After the trip going to the barrio, considering the road condition and the length of the road, I’d say 300 pesos is a bargain.

Tinglayan View Point Sabtang Island, Batanes

I spent most of the afternoon roaming around the barrio. Chavayan I must say is a must visit, there are other old barrios along the way going to Chavayan but it is not as nostalgic and amazing as this barrio by the sea. It is something like out of a storybook that you’d never thought could ever exist, a place for hopeless romantics.

Entry to the village/barrio
Hanging out with my travel blogging idols and the Mango Bandits hahaha
 (left to right Kaiz of  missbackpacker.info Owen and Nikka of Two2Travel.com, My mentor Doi of  TheTravellingFeet.com and dynamic mango bandits duo.. hahaha)

It’s a small village, people know each other -literally. I walked through the main street till I reached end where the village meets the shore.

I savored every moment that I had at the village, the simple life that they live, the fresh air and that feeling you actually feel alive. It was priceless.

It was time to go back to the Poblacion (the town center)so I rode with my friends going back on a tricycle Ivatan style. halfway of the trip, I noticed that my tripod was missing! The driver immediately stopped and went back the path we went through. We hopped off the tricycle as he goes back so that he can drive faster.

We walked along the deserted road to keep our selves warm, the wind was blowing and it doesn’t help that it was winter that time. It was like Taiwan all over again. Untouched beaches planks the road on its side, I kept on thinking if I only had enough time to stay in the island I would soak my self under the sun, errrrr maybe not it was terribly cold! hahahaha! But why not during the summer ey?

The driver got back and found my tripod, thank God! I mean that is a good tripod that I use.

We reached the port and there were no falowas just yet to transport us back to Batan. I decided to go up north of the Island and check out two spots real quick, I took a tricycle rushed all the way to Morong beach, a secluded paradise where most of the organized tours take their lunch. After exploring the beach, we quickly went to the light house that I saw as we approach the port when we were arriving to the island.

 

I didn’t want to miss my ride back home so I rushed back to the port.

On the Falowa it is advisable to take the back seat as it feels a lot less shaky than the middle or front part and you get to stay drier! Unfortunately I was seated on the middle part of the Falowa, I got splashed on and got dizzy half way of the trip at the middle of the open ocean. But I survived, nope didn’t puke, but some of my friends did and you’d never blame or make fun of them if they do because of how big the waves are!

My feet are back on dry land, I feel stable 🙂

Going back to Basco posed to be a challenge. There were few to no public transport, good thing I was with vet travel bloggers and cowboy! hahaha! They practically stopped the falowa’s owner’s crew’s shuttle truck and asked if we can hitch a ride back to Basco! The guy was awesome he let us ride and didn’t ask even just for gas money! ahhhh how great the Ivatans are! there you I just raped this sentence with exclamation points hahahaha!

It was a tiring day I walked back to my hotel to rest for a couple of hours.

Call it luck but that day was also the town’s feast day. For us Filipinos, what activity do we do when there’s a feast? Eat!!! hahaha… That same day we went house hopping we call in Filipino “Pamimyesta” (Feasting with), we hop from one friend’s house to another just to eat and chat with them – repeat cycle till full… errr not really even if you are full and you still got houses to go to you still need to eat. It’s rude not to eat when you go to someone’s home during a feast.

The first house that we went to actually was my favorite. It is a small house with few food types on the table but what was happening outside was something more. The elders of the household are taking shots, of course we obliged when they as us to take one. I learned that in Batanes gin actually trumps beer when it comes to sales. See, just like how the elders told us, gin or run for that matter, makes our body warmer compared to beer that just intoxicates us. With the cold nights specially during winter it just makes sense how hard drinks takes the throne.

After feast house hopping, we went back to our inns. rested. but restless we are. Everyone wanted to hangout some more. My landlady didn’t knew that I was house hopping for food so she brought us a lot from her house. And I mean a lot!

‘Twas my first time hosting people, Ever! Thank God that they are really nice and friendly. We talked about of course travel and the funny and not so funny things that happen to us when we are out there. It was an awesome night, and food? Hahaha I had them take some home to their rooms so they can have it for breakfast.

It was a great way to end my second day in paradise, a good laugh with friends and a heart full of stories.

time to rest now.

My 2014 In Travel

I have to say that I am truly blessed this year. I may have travel less but I have travel farther! Yes, you can say more miles this year. Near distance (domestic) travel had been abundant for the past couple of years and it’s great. But this year I am happy to have explored farther with some of the people that mean most to me.

As they say “Count your blessings” so here we go!

1. Brought the whole team to a secluded beach! 

this is the most recent trip that I had and I’m really glad that they enjoyed it, and because we had limited time some of them said that it was “Bitin” . We had games and drank the night away, it was damn awesome!

2. Hello Quezon

For the first time, I had set my foot and got acquainted with the province down south that I find really mysterious. It is because I really haven’t heard much about it, so I always kept on thinking how does it look like down in Quezon. This year, my question had been answered.

3. Bantayan

Another getaway with my two best friends, of course it was freaking fun all the time!

4. Batanes

A dream come true. Though this trip was the first one I had this year on February, this actually is the toughest on to write about. It is difficult to verbalize what I saw in Batanes, and the problem is that I feel that my photos do not measure up to the experience. That is how beautiful Batanes is.

 

5. Hong Kong

The best travel ever this year! Surprised Dad with a trip to Hong Kong!!!!! Need I say more? This trip was beyond epic! hehehe!

 

I don’t even know if I can ever top this year with the next, looking back this year totally rocked! How about you how was your year in travel? Did you go for Quality or Quantity this year? Or both?

Batanes: Dream Come True (Day 1)

Let me start by saying that I have been attempting  to write about this trip since the day that I got back here in Manila. I’ve written several drafts and and over a dozen opening paragraphs but I feel my words aren’t justifying the experience, moreover, I feel that the photos that I have taken does not even show how beautiful the province is as most of them were actually just snap shots and not photos that I have taken time to compose properly because I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the place. Most of the time I’d just take a snap shot and then continue to gaze through my eyes, there were even times that I wasn’t able to take photos at all because I was like hypnotized!

So here’s my story to tell.

I’ve been dreaming of going to Batanes ever since even to a point that I thought that it was all going to be just left as a dream here in my head. I mean going to Batanes is really expensive, ranging between 15,000 to 20,000 pesos for a return flight, until Philippine Airlines launched flights going there and then I saw light! This is it! Without any hesitation I booked that flight with what was left from my allowance for the month telling my self ill forget about my weekly coffee doze for this I know it’s worth more than what I’ll be sacrificing for several weeks

They say that Batanes is the only place in the Philippines that has more than two seasons, they have winter! I wasn’t expecting to see Frosty but something similar to the winter I felt in Taipei.

This was suppose to be a Solo Trip but having travel blogger friends  you’d always be in for a surprise. As I sit comfortably in the boarding area I checked my facebook and voila! Marky of Nomadic Eperiences was on the same flight as I am!

There are very few times that I feel nervous when traveling and this is one of them. This is something that I have been looking forward to for the longest time, one of those that you can call “Childhood Dreams”. I can’t really figure out what to feel. This is one of my dream destination! I don’t know what to expect or to expect anything at all. I have this thing that I try not to expect to see what I see on pictures because of most of the time they just disappoint me.

As soon as we landed it was like watching TV. Everything.Is.The.Way.You.Think.It.Would.Be!

The Basco aiport is small, but just enough. As soon as I got out of the arrival area I was greeted by familiar faces! There they were, Ferds of ironwulf.net and Chyng of No Spam, No Virus, No Kidding. There are more of us on the island. Ferds invited us for dinner at the Pension Ivatan for an authentic Ivatan feast.

The inn that I chose to stay with picked me up with a van from the airport, after a few turns we were actually at the inn already! It was about five minutes walk from the airport! hahaha! I was like I thought that it was going to be far but hey, oh we’re here already! hahaha!

Marky and his friends down near the port at Shanedels. After settling in my awesome big room  at Time Travel Lodge I rented a bike and met them at their hotel’s restaurant. After eating a bit we went off to start our journey. Our agenda that  afternoon was to bike around the North Batan Island Tour loop, basically biking around the tourist spots up north of the island.

We first pedaled to the Basco Lighthouse up in Naidi Hills. Well truth is there wasn’t much pedaling that happened… hahahaha…. It was mostly uphill and trying to pedal all the way up is just ridiculous, I don’t wanna die yet! hahaha! We left our bikes on the last hill that we have to go up that leads to the lighthouse .

A final push with all of my will and we found our selves on top of the hill that gives us a great view of the town. All the pushing and pedaling way uphill was all worth it… ika nga may sukli ka pa. We spent the whole morning there taking photos and hanging out up on the light house admiring the view from the top.

The wind was blowing gracefully and you can just feel at peace with your surrounding at the lighthouse. Yes, I am struggling with words right now, like I said I can’t justify what I saw with what you see and read on this post.

Of course going back down the hill was peanuts…. but at the foot of the hill another challenge was waiting for us the road to the Vayang Hills was another uphill challenge, I wish that I am speaking figuratively here….. but no…. Again we guided our bicycles with us and forget about pedaling uphill… hahaha….

The road seemed like it was never ending then to some point it felt like it was leading to the sea.

We… Uhm well at least I remember I was running crazy like people on the Sound of Music were, yep while singing the hills are alive with the sound of music! hahaha! The view on top of the Vayang Hills is really breathtaking. It’s like… damn… well like a post card… a painting… ugh… I just don’t have the words….

From the top of the Vayang Hills we road our bike like a roller coaster on the loose. No pedaling needed. The journey downhill was just a joy.

We rested for a bit, ate some snacks at a local canteen. The prices were kinda weird, vegetables were a lot more expensive than beef. I ate beef. hehehe.

After  packing up some calories in preparation for the rest of the day, we pushed forward with the Japanese Tunnel in our mind. We biked and pedaled through the road, with my lead they followed. I pedaled as if I know the place, I was confident. We were pedaling for about thirty minutes already, I think, when I thought of maybe we are lost already. I asked a local of the whereabouts of the Japanese Tunnel and was told that we have already passed by it. I then realized that we, actually just I, made  a wrong turn at the part area in the town proper that instead of turning right I turned left.

But we have pedaled far enough already and the town of Mahatao is soooo close. We decided to push through and bike all the way to Mahatao. The terrain was really challenging specially for the two of us who were using Japanes Bikes. Marky had a mountain bike. Dang! hahaha!

The road to Mahatao is simply one of the most picturesque, jaw dropping scenery that you’d ever see…. i’m just kidding, it’s more than that multiply to the power of inexplicability (yes I am using non-words already but I’m sure you get my point). I did not for a single moment regret our decision to push through. I even thought that it was a blessing in disguise to make that wrong turn! (I’ll post more photos of the route on a separate post)

Hello Mahatao!

Mahatao is the next town after Basco in the island of Batan. It is much more quieter than the island’s capital. As soon as we saw a store along the road we immediately thought of having some snacks after biking and walking with our bikes for seven kilometers of mostly uphill terrain from the town of Basco. It was more of a reflex. We were tired but really happy of the sights that we saw.

After some refreshments, we pedaled a bit more to one of the heritage churches of the island, the San Carlos Borromeo Church.

 

syempre yung picture na kasama ako…haha

The Municipio is adjacent from the church. I can really tell not much about this town, but simply that it’s beautiful small and quite. So much of what we always look for in the urban jungle of chaotic cars and buses, while we feel so little from those tall buildings. Here you feel human. You feel that you are a vital part of the system and not just another part that can be easily replaced. Here you feel life.

We explored the church and roamed around the community a bit more and decided to leave. We saw a signage pointing to a place called Diura. It is a fishing village that is famous for its dried fish that are also considered as an item that one can barter for an item within the village, not to mention its beautiful sunrise. We asked for direction and proceed.

The road to Diura is great because of the thick foliage on both sides of the road. We pedaled and pedaled until we notice that it was past four in the afternoon. It will soon get dark. We asked a local that was walking back to Mahatao if Diura was anywhere near from where we are. She replied that it was near already. We gave it a chance and agreed that it is five o’clock already and we are still on the road, that we will go back to Basco already.

Give some extra considerations when asking locals, specially when you are in the provinces. When they say that its near, for urbanites like us, it still is far. Unless the person that you speak with has an idea of what is near and far for city people. I am not being racist here ok. I am just making a  point. Defensive lang? hahaha.

Five o’clock came and a single house was not in sight. Still in the forest. We turned our bikes around and headed back to Basco. Then it occurred to me that we have a dinner appointment with Ferds! Well, I just thought, I am here and I’ll get there when I get there. I didn’t want to stress my self. This is a vacation.

Lesser uphills and more downhill rides. Good thing there were three of us who biked. The road can be dark and scary at times, we were tired and we started walking more and more than pedaling on small hills. It was logical to do so. I actually felt tired and wanted to give up and just stay where I was standing or walking for that matter at that time. But I can’t. My companions gave me the will to carry on.

It was around seven in the evening. I left them near the port where they were staying and I headed uphill near the airport where  my lodge is. I changed clothes and went to see my friends on dinner at Pension Ivatan. 

Seoul: Awesome Ewha

It’s not intended to be a tourist spot, but its architecture is just so awesome it just became one. Ewha Womens University  is just a few minutes walk away from the Sichon metro station. It is known to be one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea tracing its roots way back 1886 when it was founded by the American Methodist Episcopal missionaries.

If you are a grammar natzi you must be asking or struggling with the fact that I stated Woman and Women. Well it is not a grammatical error. It was told that the founders of the university wanted to give each woman who studies there their own identity instead of collectively recognizing them as Women.

For us guys out there won’t it be nice to be surrounded with all those beautiful women while studying? I’m pretty sure that you’ll pass your course with flying colors! If you are a Korean living in Korea, I have a bad news for you though. They do not accept men students. Yep. HOW EVER!!! If you are guy from another country, the university actually accepts international students even if they are guys! Welcome to heaven man! LOL!

But I wasn’t there to study. As I enter the university campus with my big bag and tripod, I got a bit, actually a lot, conscious about security guards. I am a Filipino and I grew up with security guards sticking their hands and sticks to whatever they can, it’s like being in North Korea where you have minders all the time. I guess we won’t feel that awk ward if we go on a trip on the other side of the border.

after admiring the beautiful autumn scenery in the campus we bought food on one of the street vendors selling great Korean food. I think South Korea has one of the best food culture just right after Taiwan (sorry, I am biased for my fave country). I bought a rice cake kinda soup and I don’t know the heck it is called, what I know is that it is yummy!

We ate in an amphitheater kind of structure right across the wedding convention center where a steady stream of newly weds come in and out of the hall.

It was great talking with a new friend over good street food on a great weather day. We had to move on, and our next stop was the N Seoul Tower

 

This post is part of my four day backpacking trip to Seoul, South Korea series

Seoul Backpacking Guide

Part 1: Arrival, Coffee Prince and Seoul N Tower

Part 2: The Palaces and Coffee Shop Experience

Part 3: The Jimjjilbang Experience and Nandaemun

Part 4: The Epilouge: Going Home

South Korea Trip Preparations

How to Apply For A Korean Visa

Hong Kong: Dad’s First Time Abroad (Day 3)

It’s our last day. Money is really low I’ve sent my sister a message if she can lend me some then I’ll pay her when I get back to Manila. I had money on my card, it was payday but I couldn’t withdraw from any bank as none accepts my bank. It was a good think I have other bank cards with visa and master card so I need not to worry.

We can’t make a move, the unforeseen expense the week just before we left’s blow still is felt. I was contemplating if we should drop a trip to the peak and just roam around parks or other free attractions. Like yesterday it was hot so we weren’t really that pressured or eager to go out that morning. We waited.

Alas! A message came in a few minutes past ten in the morning, my sister just deposited money on my Mastercard. Finally we can move!

Dad wanted to see the second hand shops that his friends were talking about so I took him back to Sham Shui Po. On our way out of the station I looked up at the map and tried to discern any hint that would tell us where those second hand electronic shops are. Then, suddenly, I saw a photo from a thought bubble with a picture of a street and on that street I saw a signage of an electronic shop. “Apliu street” I excalimed. We walked excitedly to find out if we did crack the code on the map.

It was morning time still and most of the second hand shops aren’t really established shops but are rather  street vendors, it was more like of a flea market. It was too early, these markets usually liven up with people late in the after noon till night time. We roamed around and tried to look for some other interesting things that we can find till it was noon time. There were some more vendors who are starting to setup their shops but something wasn’t feeling good at this point, my stomach.

I asked dad for us to each lunch already. I was really hungry because we didn’t each much that day. I saw this restaurant that offers Taiwanese dishes, I missing Taiwan a lot didn’t think twice and just walked right in. The signage outside with photos of what they offer had prices and it was really cheaper than most of where we have eaten.

Their menus are written in English so at least we know what we are getting. They gave a us a slip where we could place our orders, this is something that I like in Hong Kong. You get to fill up a form where they have all of what they offer are written and you get to tick them off your self to place your order. Then you take your slip to the counter next to the door so you can pay just before you leave. I like the system but I don’t know how to read Chinese. As soon as the lady gave us the slip, while she tried to go back to her post I did my best to get her attention “Wo bu hui shuo zhongwen!” (I don’t speak Chinese) It the best phrase that I can think of, I didn’t knew how to say the word “Read” hahaha! She got my point so no problem. I can sense how important was it for her to do more for her job so I quickly pointed my fingers to the menu uttering “Zhe ge” in each item.

It wasn’t that long before our orders came in I had beef toppings on rice while dad had pork. We had another dish that I can’t remember what it was called, but it was like a crunch noodle wrapped in thick sticky rice wrapper that you have to dip in a soy sauce like mixture. It was definitely yummy that dad even ate his entire slice!

After lunch we took our way off to go back to Tsim Sha Tsui. From the subway we walked who knows how far from the the subway station, all I know is that my feet are starting to hurt already. But we are up for more walking around for the rest of the day, I didn’t complain.

The Star Ferry Terminal is located on the northern end of the Cruise Center. Luckily we didn’t had to wait for a few more minutes as we caught the ferry that was about to leave. I choose to take the ferry going to Hong Kong island as it was an experience it self. The scenic view was exceptional as you depart from the busy suburb of Kowloon going to the upscale business district of Central.

Armed with a map we navigated the streets of Hong Kong island from the ferry terminal going to the Peak. The map seem to have mislead us in a way, it looked like it was just a short walk but I was wrong. The uphill terrain was  a challenge for me (I’m fat) and dad (old) but I don’t regret taking this route. It was a good walk. We were able to see the historic and famous buildings of Hong Kong, those who defined and meld what Hong Kong is now today.

 

There was a long line snaking around the building where The Tram going up The Peak can be found.  We almost lined up the wrong cue, good thing we asked around first. There were a lot of people, which actually caught me by surprise. According to my research the best time to get to the peak was in the after noon between 4:00 PM till about 6:00 PM as there would be no lines to cue it’s just you and the peak. It must have a been a fluke or I was just really jinxed. I mean that many of people, all unrelated to each other, saying the same thing can be wrong right? Anyways it took us over an hour before we could get to the board.

The trip going up was worth the wait! We were treated with a spectacular view of the island going up, I’d say that it is almost better than the view from the peak, almost.

At the end of the tram line we alight inside The Peak building it self. We worked our way up through a series of escalators. I wasn’t really sure if we were on the right way, so I asked the staff at Madame Tussaud’s and was directed to go further up. The stairs lead us to a door that opened to the Sky Terrace. I was kinda disappointed because it was small and crowded, but my determination didn’t falter. I was there to take a post card photo of  the down town area of Central Hong Kong.

 

As soon as I got my shot I called dad so I can get his photo taken with the sky line of Central at his back. It was a challenge keeping that spot, fortunately we got what we came there for. I don’t know if I look Chinese or something but there were several people who insistently tries to talk to me in Chinese, I’ll reply in English, then I’ll here them say “Shuo yingwen” which means to me that they got that I only speak English. Anyways we went back down and lo and behold! Another line to board the tram! We can’t use the Senior Citizen trump card because in Hong Kong you have to be 65 to be considered as a senior, so no express lanes or consideration for us. awwwww. We. Waited. In. Line.

Going back to Kowloon, we took the double decked bus going down to the  ferry terminal. It was a great ride going down to the star ferry terminal on top of the bus. With the wind blowing on your face and the buildings seem to be staring at you. It was a no brainer  decision to make, we took the star ferry going back to Kowloon. It was a different experience with with the lights on the buildings seem to dance in through the night.

As soon as we set foot on land on the Kowloon side, I asked dad if he wants to have dinner at the night market in Temple street, I wanted to but my feet are dead tired so I checked with dad first. He declined, without hesitation as I concurred. We just ate at a nearby restaurant from our hotel.

It was our last night. Though we missed some of the places in our itinerary I still felt like we had a great time in Hong Kong. We were able to maximize our budget while experiencing the fundamental things of what makes Hong Kong the Asia’s World City.

The bus ride back to the airport the following morning was reflective for me as I take my last look at the city where I had brought at least one of my family at. I said to my self that I will come back armed with a better budget and do the things we failed to do. I say Hong Kong is an experience that you will want to do over and over without regret as the city is as unique as it could get each and every night.

Off we go back to reality we call Manila.

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