Category: Travel


Up in The Air

HIGHlights of yesterday’s Clark and Subic trip:

15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival


That tradition of a skydiver bearing the Philippine flag while the National Anthem is being played still gets me.

The first time we came here a couple of years ago, not a single balloon properly inflated due to strong winds.  We were so happy to finally witness balloons in flight this time around!

Night Glow

Too bad the wind interfered again so there was no night flight, but at least we still got to see a bit of a night glow.  This trip definitely made up for the disappointment two years ago.

Subic Treetop Adventure

Superman Ride

Dream come true! I was finally able to fly…sort of.  It was also fun flying with travel buddy Farah.  Now I can’t wait to do an honest-to-goodness zipline!

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Heeding the Siren Call (Updated)

A few weeks ago, when my friend Tin was in Cebu, I had this dream:  I followed to Cebu, then we rode a bus supposedly going somewhere else in the province, but instead ended up at the Boulevard in Dumaguete.  It was nighttime and it was brightly lit, with all the lampposts glowing.

I played Freud and interpreted it as:  Dumaguete saying, “You have to come back SOON!”

I’ve always been a good listener – and a good seat-sale customer, so…I’ll be back in Dumaguete in March.  It’s PAL’s 777 sale’s fault, haha!  But seriously, it’s really on my 2010 travel calendar.  I won’t be spending a lot of time in Dumaguete itself this time around.  We’re going to Antulang (finally!),  so we’ll probably just go around the city on our last day, before we head to the airport.

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On other travel news….

I’ve been on a wanderlust diet the second half of this year, and now I’m making up for it!  Bataan at the end of this month; and Banaue-Sagada at the end of December.  It will most likely be wicked cold on the latter trip, so I’m excited!  I’ve been thinking of how I miss wintry temperature recently, so the Sagada trip comes at the right time.

The Gypsy’s going back on the road. 😀

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Update:

Ok, now it’s Cebu Pacific with a One-Peso seat sale.  I was able to book a Singapore trip for August – after trying for different countries on different dates.  Our original plan was an Indochina (Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam) trip for August, but no promo tickets were available on the schedule we wanted.

Yay! Making up for the wanderlust diet, indeed! 😀

Sunrise Flight

Here’s why I love 5.30am takeoffs:

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Mantalinga island (just a kilometer from shoreline of Baybay Beach, Capiz)

Mantalinga island (just a kilometer from the shoreline of Baybay Beach, Capiz)

Off to Capiz!

Another long weekend, another out-of-town trip.  Great timing too, since it’s my dad’s birthday on Sunday.  He hasn’t spent a birthday in his hometown for more than 30 years!  We’re leaving on Friday and will be back in Manila early Tuesday morning – straight to the office from the airport for me; home for dad.

We’re also flying PAL again after a number of years.  I have missed their practically-dawn flights to Capiz.  I’ll get to have my traditional “arrival breakfast” again – shrimps and fried rice!  Yum!

There’s one thing I’m wishing for in this trip – that it would rain for at least an entire day while we’re there.  It’s always been sunny everytime I’m in Capiz.  Yeah, yeah, my rain fetish again. 😀

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I’ve finally found my version of Luke’s Diner – minus Luke.  For those not familiar with it, Luke’s is the iconic diner in the TV series, Gilmore Girls.  It’s one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and I always wished that I had a Luke’s.

Mama Chit’s Coffee House is our neighborhood’s Luke’s Diner, though “Coffee House” is such a misnomer.  They don’t serve the usual coffee variants, and they don’t even have pastries.  It really is a diner.  The specialties are the grilled burgers and sandwiches.

Aside from the really yummy and tummy-filling cheeseburger, it is the decor that gives character to Mama Chit’s.  The interior is decorated in 60s vintage pop.  Music from the 60s (Beatles, yay!) also plays in just the right volume – not too loud to get in the way of conversations, but loud enough to really complement the ambiance.  

 

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One wall is decorated with large portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley surrounded by black and white photos of Old Manila.  The opposite wall and the rest of the diner contain posters and other 60s-70s pop culture relics.

 

 

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The counter:

 

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I miss the old black phone!  It was where I first learned numbers, but no one told me if I ever counted “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-0”.  😀

The food scene in our neighboorhood is booming, with establishments that combine good food and perfect ambiance.  We have the Italian Bellini’s, Filipiniana Cafe Kapitan, and now the vintage 60s Mama Chit’s – all in the same street, within 3 blocks of one another.

To the mountains!

I’ve already written that I’ve been sadly neglecting the North in my travels around the Philippines, so now I’ve done something about it.  I’m off to Sagada in May, around the time of my birthday.  It’s with a tour group this time around (but still with perennial travel buddy, Tin), but it promises to be the different kind.

My last “mountain” trip was when our boss at the graphic design agency signed us up for a 4-hour jungle trek in Subic.  I don’t know if that really counts, since it’s not actually a huge or major mountain.  So, if we go by the term “mountain trip” in the strictest sense, then my last one was back in 2004 at the PNOC Geothermal Field near Mt. Apo.  I loved that place.

I love mountains because of the cooler climate and my fascination with heights.  In fact, I’ve always imagined my dream house to be in a place where I have the beach as my frontyard and the mountains as my backyard. 🙂  Still looking for that perfect place…

Once again, a storm had an impact on our beach trip.  This time around, it was the lingering devastation of last year’s Typhoon Frank.  Broken piers and rock-littered shores greeted us.  On the positive side, it gave the island a more romantic quality.

Kupo Wharf, Brgy. San Isidro, Guimaras

Kupo Wharf, Brgy. San Isidro, Guimaras

Western Pier, Nagarao Island

Western Pier, Nagarao Island

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Guimaras had to endure two major catastrophes in 4 years – the Petron oil spill and Typhoon Frank.   But she survives, with an altered beauty but still charming, nevertheless.

The Journey to Nagarao

Nagarao is a private island, one of several tiny islands around mainland Guimaras.  Iloilo City is the gateway to Guimaras.  A ferry from Fort San Pedro takes you to Jordan Wharf in mainland Guimaras in less than 15 minutes.  From there, it’s an hour’s ride through narrow rough roads (with short stretches of paved portions) to Kupo Wharf in Barangay San Isidro.  Finally, it’s another 10-minute pump boat ride to Nagarao island.  Be prepared for really roughing it.  In the piers, expect to walk down steep stone steps carved out of a seawall and upon rock piles that resulted from a typhoon’s fury.

On The Island

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That is one of the first things you see upon docking on the Western Pier.  We were greeted by Helen Stummer, the owner of the island/resort.  She’s a typical Ilongga, very friendly and charming.  It turned out that we were the only guests in the resort.  Well, there’s the German, Hors, but he doesn’t really count as a guest since he owns a cottage there and comes every year.

There is no electricity in Nagarao.  The lights are solar-powered, and a generator is used from 6pm to 6am, so you could still have air conditioning in your room at night should you prefer to do so.  It is very quiet around the island.  The only sounds come from the wind (and it is very windy!) and the ocean – and the occasional chickens and insects.

The light gold sand is fine enough, and there are plenty of beautiful shells to collect.  It is not as ideal for swimming like Boracay or the other sandy beaches in the Philippines.  You really have to wait for high tide, and then there are the rocks.  Not really sharp, but slippery especially the moss-covered ones.  We were only able to swim on our second morning, since the first one was spent settling in and exploring, while the last one was spent packing since we had to leave the island by 10am.

It was a lazy vacation for us.  I wrote in an earlier post that I’m not looking for adventure on this one, and indeed, we didn’t have any – except for the journey itself.  It was heaven to simply wake up at dawn, watch the sun come up, eat scrumptious meals, spend the rest of the day in beach and around the island, read and nap on a hammock, watch the sunset, and have a good night’s sleep.

To be continued…

Back from the island

Tanned and just a tad heavier. 😀  It was indeed 3 days of peace and quiet – and lots of food!.  We practically had the entire island to ourselves.  The only other guest was Hors, a retired 70-year-old German who actually owns a cottage in the resort.  More stories and photos after I’ve sorted them out.

Oh, and the island I’m writing about is Nagarao in Guimaras.  Here are some photos for now:

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Lunch for two!

Lunch for two!

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First vacation of 2009!

I’ll be off to Guimaras at dawn on Wednesday and will be back in Manila on Friday evening.  I’ve been so stressed at work lately so this trip couldn’t have been scheduled at a better time.  Also, my assistant at work started today.  Perfect timing, and with just enough time to brief her and assign tasks for the rest of the week while I’m away.

Just like our Dumaguete trip last October, I’m planning for this one to be a complete relaxation getaway.  I’m not deliberately looking for adventure on this one, though I’ll gladly welcome anything that comes up. 😀

Be back in the the weekend with stories and photos!

Itchy Feet Again

Off to Guimaras in March!  Yey!  I’m happy to be quickly crossing off items on my Philippine travel list, especially places in Visayas.  Hmm…I think I’m sadly neglecting places in Luzon (especially the North) and Mindanao though.  That should be next on the agenda.  This coming Guimaras trip was a spur-of-the-moment thing brought about by…you guessed it, Cebu Pacific’s Zero-Peso seat sale.

The main item on our travel list this year is Cambodia (and possibly Vietnam) or any other foreign country, but that’s scheduled for the last quarter of the year.  So until then, we’re off around good ol’ Pinas.