Deal Dozen has done it again! Today, it offers beachcombers a very tempting deal: a 3days/2nights stay for 4 at the luxurious Alta Vista de Boracay’s Loft Suite. The cost? Php 11,990!
According to its own website, a 3days/2nights stay for 4 in the Loft Suite costs a whopping Php 17,598.00. The deal costs Php 11,990. Do the math.
Need I say more? GRAB IT NOW or miss out on the chance of experiencing paradise within paradise for less!
If you’re the type of tourist who “looks before s/he books,” (like me) log on to Trip Advisor for customer reviews on Alta Vista de Boracay.
Shortly after posting my last blog, I spot online news articles saying that the Bicol Express train made an emergency stop at 4:30am today due to 5 uneven tracks along the Malaguico area, about 40km from Naga. Tsk, tsk. Just when I was getting really excited about riding aboard it… But anyway, things like this happen. Good thing it that was the only “accident” it met and not something as major that could have its passengers seriously injured (and I knock on wood as I type this). Well, despite this not-so-good news, I’m still looking forward to boarding this train and returning to Bicol for new experiences and new beautiful spots to visit!
An update on fares — here’s what I’ve found so far:
Tourist: Php 548.00
Sleeper: Php 950.00
According to philstar.com’s article, the PNR will be giving a 20% discount on fares during “the early runs.” (By early runs I’m not sure if those pertain to early runs during the day or to all of its runs for the first month or two of operation.)
…nope, I’m not blogging about the dish. Equally as exciting, though, is that the Bicol Express Train is literally back on track! Inaugurated in 1938, the train had been operating on and off for several years until it completely ceased operation when super typhoon Reming (international name: Durian) struck the Bicol region in 2006.
Here it is now! Newly painted and completely refurbished, I hope. Now I can go to Bicol without having to sit in a bus with very little leg room or wait for discounted plane tickets that come once in a blue moon.
Fare rates are said to cost almost the same as bus fares going to Bicol, so it’s guaranteed not to be expensive. Also, different types of seating are available for passengers to choose from. Unfortunately, online access to detailed info on fares and seats is not possible right now as PNR’s (Philippine National Railways) website is currently under re-construction. I’ll post updates, though, soon as it gets back online.
Day 3 of our trip to Puerto Princesa brought us to San Vicente, where Long Beach and Daplac Cove are found. Here are some photos of Daplac Cove:
Daplac Cove is about a 30-minute bangka ride from Capari Resort (where we stayed in San Vicente) per way. The bangka ride is a service provided by the resort itself, which cost our group of 8 about Php 3,500.00 ($80.42) for the entire day. Guests availing of this service may just arrange with the bangkero (boatman) the best way to maximize the day island-hopping.
Meals were not a problem for us because the friendly boatmen were nice enough to do the cooking for us. All we had to do was wake up early in the morning to buy some fresh catch of fish, order rice from the resort, and of course, eat!
We were lucky enough to meet two kind residents from the island, Philippe (a Frenchman) and Ditchay (a Filipina), whose beautiful eco-friendly cottage is nested right in front of the beach. (Ay, kainggit!)
During the afternoon the couple invited us to their porch for a cup of coffee. There we learned that their cottage has been around for 20 years already (and it still looks new!). Over coffee Philippe talked (or, according to Ditchay, lectured us) to us about the pressing problem of commercialization of the island as well as their cause in letting as many people know about the bad side of putting up resorts in tiny islands such as Boayan. According to them, the presence of a luxury resort would harm the island’s ecosystem, and would render the island inaccessible to local tourists who aren’t able to afford the high rates these resorts ask for. Aside from that, Philippe also gave us the 411 on the environmental benefits of using solar energy at home. The conversation may have seemed like a lecture, but it was definitely eye-opening for us city girls who know very little about such matters.
I’m in on the cause of the San Vicente residents to save Boayan from “commercialization.” Word is out that Discovery Shores is planning to build a luxury resort in the area — something that will greatly affect local travelers, as the cost of entering the island will be very expensive. Ditchay and Philippe were right in saying that it just doesn’t make sense if it happens that such a place in the Philippines would become inaccessible to most of its citizens. More importantly, the building of such a resort would greatly harm the rich wildlife that Boayan has.
Click on this link and join in the cause! You may also find them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=68467507745
cheered myself up with some awesome tasting lamb chops from Cyma (Trinoma) — yum!
For those who are interested to know, here’s a summary of our camping trip (c/o Mr. Melvic Brinas) to Calaguas:
- caught the 2100 (Friday night) bus ride from Manila to Daet via Amihan Bus Lines
- arrived in Daet at around 0700-0800 (Saturday); the entire group met with Mr. Brinas in Jollibee (I think there’s only one in Daet)
- 30-minute van ride to the port
- 2-hour boat ride to Calaguas (with a quick side trip to Makulabo Island)
- 1030–arrival at Calaguas campsite
- 1200–buffet lunch for all (this is included in the camping package)
- once done eating, go and enjoy the island!
- 1900–buffet dinner for all (included in the camping package); also, we were lucky enough to be provided by Mr. Brinas bottles of The Bar Apple Vodka during our trip–whee!
- 1000 (Sunday)–left the island for some surfing fun at Bagasbas
- 2100–departure from Bagasbas back to Manila
the sand here is blindingly white, i'm not kidding
Here’s a little disclaimer, though. Calaguas is not for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because this island is exclusive, or anything–it’s just that certain types of tourists who have a set of “standards” might not enjoy the island as others do. As a piece of advice from one traveler to another, do not go to Calaguas if you:
- are faint of heart (or in Tagalog, nerbyoso/nerbyosa) — The 2-hour boat ride to and from the mainland can get really bumpy; if you still wish to go, avoid the summer months and postpone your trip until around July when the waves are calmer.
- can’t survive one night of sleeping without air conditioning — camping = no bedrooms = sleeping in tents
- can’t survive one night of sleeping without a comfortable bed — same as #2
- can’t survive at least 2 days of no mobile phone signal
- are not willing to try bathing from a makeshift pump (in Tagalog, poso) outdoors, potentially with strangers — since it’s a remote island, there’s no running power there to light the (ruins of a former decent) bathroom
Bottom line is, Calaguas is an adventure in the most natural sense. It doesn’t offer the thrill that mainstream water sports/activities do; instead, it challenges travelers to let go of their tired old notions of what a weekend beach getaway should be, and to just suck in the experiences that nature has to offer–both the beautiful and the not-so-convenient.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I left Manila that Friday evening March of last year not knowing what to expect from that trip to Camarines Norte. Today, I remember myself sitting in that bus going home just overflowing with awe of what I have seen and experienced there. Actually, until now (as I type) I get chills recalling the most pleasantly surprising place I have ever been my entire life! Calaguas is by far the most exquisite of all the beautiful beaches I have visited here in the Philippines. Forget Boracay–it’s already way past its prime. Hee :p
Behind an excellent camping trip is an excellent organizer/host. Melvic Brinas can be found in Facebook, where his contact numbers are posted: http://www.facebook.com/calaguas4ever
He has other websites, too!
I learned about Calaguas only by chance. Around March last year, my friends and I were already itching to kick-start our summer by going to a beach that we all haven’t been to. After hours of Google-ing beach destinations that are pretty close to the Metro, we came across a blog about a place called “Mahabang Buhangin” (that’s long beach in English) somewhere off Batangas. The blog included a photo of the beach and we couldn’t believe that there can be an island near Batangas that has sand as white as Panglao‘s or Boracay‘s, and so we searched some more and found another blog praising the same beach. Still a bit skeptical as to the real location of this island (no, it just can’t be near Batangas), we searched for more blogs until one of us found the contact number of one Melvic Brinas, a guy who arranges camping packages to these group of islands off Camarines Norte (we were right all along!) called the Calaguas (or Calagua Islands). And so we called him up, reserved our slots for the coming weekend, and come Friday evening we were on a bus going to Daet, Camarines Norte, not knowing what to expect from this little adventure.
Makulabo Island--"just" a side trip :p
here it is--Calaguas
Must I state the obvious? I almost died seeing how beautiful this island is. Aside from the sand being clean and white, the water was also free from any pesky things as sea weed, sea grass, or algae, which made swimming even much more fun. Also, note the lush green hills–perfect view! One can go hiking up those hills in the morning for an excellent view of the sea and sand. 🙂
As you can see in the photos, the stretch of sand from the water up to the campsite (where the vegetation starts) is really wide so a large beach umbrella is a must, as well as tons of sunscreen and other beach essentials.
This weather in Manila just makes me want to curl up and… daydream about the beach!
After riding the Micro Lite, we headed off to our last destination in Bukidnon: Dahilayan Adventure Park, where the “longest zipline in Asia” can be found. Unfortunately, the road going up to the park was wet (the road wasn’t paved yet) due to the rain from the night before, so we had to do a little hiking to get there. It was a helluva long uphill walk but, man, it was also a helluva view! Layers upon layers of mountains, pine trees lining the road, even pretty flowers scattered around… I never imagined Bukidnon to be this picturesque. Pleasant surprise!
I may be called a killjoy for not trying out the famous 840 meter-long zipline, but hey, to each her own, right? Instead, I went for the ATV ride around the park which is an adventure in itself, too. The trail was excellent, complete with uphill and downhill parts, sharp curves, and muddy/rocky ground, so better be ready to get dirty if you wish to try this out! Aside from that, the trail also offers an amazing view of the entire park and the woods and mountains that surround it. I say the Php 500 that this ride cost me was very well worth its value. Find out more about this park in their website.
the ATV trail
view from the trail