Saturday, August 13, 2011

Boracay: How to go there on your own

Boracay.. aaah the haven for beach goers and sunset lovers.. must-go during the summer.. number one for the party goers.. not for solo travelers..

Well, that's what I thought. I have been inviting a lot of friends to go and see boracay, but I failed. In my frustration, I decided to go alone and that's when I appreciated the beauty of solo traveling. :) So read on and find out how I managed to enjoy Boracay on my own. Maybe you can do the same, too!
  1. Book yourself a cheap flight through Cebu Pacific or any airline. :)
  • I had my plane tickets for P1200, availed of the P488 promo fare of the airline.
Since there was no promo fare for Caticlan-Manila, I availed a flight via Kalibo-Manila. So my complete itinerary was: Manila-Caticlan; Kalibo-Manila.
2. Reserve a room in Bora (a month before your planned trip, during peak seasons).
  • Browse on cheap hotels/cottages/rooms in Boracay.Make friends with Google this time. :)
  • Get their contact details, call them and ask for reservation processes and the amenities of the hotel/resort.
  • Read reviews so you know whether it's a good choice or not. :)
I stayed at Bonzai Resort which was located between Station 2 and 3. My room was P700/night, for 1 pax, with AC and private bath & toilet, two-minute walk to the White Beach, good security. :) Contact number: 09177237064
3. From the Caticlan airport to the Jetty Port. Tricycles are readily available just outside the Caticlan Airport.
  • Get yourself a ticket, pay for the tricycle fare, environmental fee and other fees they require at the Ticket Booth which is located just outside the airport gate.
  • Ride a tricycle and ask the driver to bring you to the Jetty Port.
4. From the Kagban Jetty Port to the island of Boracay.
  • At the port, pay for your fare and terminal fee at the Ticket Booth.
  • Ride a jetty/boat, wear your life vest and you're good to go! Brace yourself and say "Boracay here I come!
5. From the Jetty Port (in Boracay) to your hotel.
  • Hail a tricycle and ask the driver to bring you to your hotel. Make sure you have some landmarks of your hotel, or you know which station it is located. Fare is around P20 per person.
6. Find your hotel, settle your things, get a shower, change to your best beach dress/attire, and you're good to go! Enjoy Boracay!
Tip: Plan your personal itinerary, if you don't want to avail of expensive tour packages. List your own TO-DOs when you get to Bora. You don't want to miss the must-do/must-eat/must-gets when you get there. :)
My own itinerary included: island tour hopping, watching a firedance show, getting a massage at the beach, watching the famous Boracay sunset, shopping, etc, etc.. Well, just enough activities for a 3days/2nights stay. :)
PS: what happens in bora, stays in bora.. :)

El Nido: Ageless and Mystical

On May 26, 2011, I packed some clothes, prepared some cash, printed my eticket and finally set off to NAIA terminal 3 for my flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. I usually do my travels alone, but this time, I was with a company.
Most of the time, going on a travel with someone has its advantages: lesser expenses and you have someone to share your experience with. So, if someone is interested enough to tag along (even if it violates your rule of solo traveling), don't hesitate and just enjoy the experience! :)
Anyway, I was supposed to stay in Palawan for six days but I rebooked my flight and opted to stay for a couple of days more. So without further ado, here was my El Nido-Puerto Princesa, Palawan itinerary:
Day 01 (May 26, 2011): NAIA Terminal 3, Puerto Princesa bound
  • Party/Dine with newly-met relatives from Puerto Princesa. It's always good to seek for some relatives in each place. You get to have free food and accommodation. :) My lolo did not allow me to go out at night, though. Con!
Day 02: El Nido Adventure starts now!
  • Five-hour journey to paradise.My tita arranged a seat with a public van for us (me and Yani). We set off for El Nido at around 7am and arrived at 12:30pm. whew! It was a long ride going to El Nido but the view was just breathtaking. (minus the rough road) Fare: P500/pax
  • Check in.We checked-in at Marikit Pensionne House. Fan Room costs P800 good for 2pax, with breakfast. Electricity available only 2pm-6am. It was a nice place, and they offered tours too. Breakfast was good, 2 viands, fruits, juice, unlimited coffee! :)
  • Go around the town.We braved the rain and went out to check the place. El Nido is a very small town but it has a lot to offer. Although it's nothing like Bora (in terms of party places), it definitely had its own way to please the tourists. :) good food at Squidos restaurant.
Day 03: Island Hopping Tour

Since we were staying for just 2nights, we asked for the inn keeper to book us a couple of tours for 1day. And we got lucky, we were able to get a package for P1300 each. :) Though it was raining, the sea was calm and we were able to go on with the tour with 3 other guys from the inn.
  • Tour A.
Small Lagoon. You have to pass through a narrow entrance to be able to get into the lagoon. Btw, it was 20-30ft deep and there were barely any fish there. But it was a really nice experience going in there and seeing the rock formations and a small cave. :)

There I go through the entrance of Small Lagoon.
Big Lagoon. We were not able to go there because of the Survivor shooting
Simesu Island. We went snorkeling here. Met Nemo. Had lunch here also. Yum yum food prepared by the bankeros.:)
Seven Commando Island. This is where you get a refreshment after a whole day tour. They didn't have fresh buko that day so we had a bottle of softdrink instead!

  • Tour B.
Snake Island. I thought I saw a dog from afar walking on the water. I was amazed to learn that there was a sandbar connecting two islands and thus helping the dog pass through. :)
Cudugnon Cave. Hundreds of El Nido locals sought refuge from the Japanese and died in this cave during the war.

The Helicopter Island at the background
Long Beach Island. This island had a very nice rock formation and a long stretch of white beach! It had Helicopter Island on its background. :)
During our tour, we had some bonus attractions too. We saw a couple of giant pawikan (sea turtle) swimming its way to the Turtle Island and an eagle diving for a fish! :)

The Snake Island

Day 04: Back to the City in a Forest
  • Check out. It was only during check out that we paid all our dues in the inn. We had our last minute view of the place too and bought some souvenir. :)
  • Five-hour journey to yet another paradise: Puerto Princesa.The trip back to Puerto Princesa was more comfortable as we were able to reserve a nice seat in the van. Fare is P500. :)
  • Church at the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral.
  • Dinner at Kinabuch Bar and Grill. This place is a must-go if you want some good food.
    Wonder about my Puerto Princesa escapade? Find out about my adventures here. ^_^

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

WOW Mindanao in 2012!

I am hoping to finish my grad studies at ADMU sometime in march, 2012. By this time, I will be going back to Gensan to render my return service for my scholarship. It also means, no more easy access on most tourist spots in the Philippines. It's easier when you're in Manila because you don't have to book connecting flights to most domestic destinations. (ex: Gensan-Manila-Puerto Princesa)

Before I set my foot back to Gensan, I am planning to do one more travel: Coron or Legazpi. But, my travel plans don't end here. I am still dreaming of going around the Philippines in the next few years, even thought of quitting my job in the academe and be a full-time traveler.

If there's one thing I love doing these days, it's traveling. I enjoy the idea of going to a place I have never been to and just explore, appreciate and surprise myself with what that place can offer. The thought keeps me at awe a lot of times.

So, what's next after my trip on March '12? MINDANAO.

I have spent most of my life in Mindanao but I have never imagined myself going around it. I spent four years in Iligan City and have endured 12-hour bus rides from Gensan just to get there. But, that's just it. It's a basic bus ride, I'm a passenger sleeping most of the time, waking up to check on the time and the place and ask "are we there yet?"

Mindanao has a lot to offer: beaches, mountains, good food, and even terrorist groups! Kidding. :p Unlike what the media depicts of Mindanao, it's basically safe there. I don't plan to check on Basilan, anyway. But, even Basilan has some nice beaches too. And who can skip the amazing Tubbataha Reef? How about the mystical Camiguin Island? Or the majestic Mount Apo? The beaches of Mati is a must-go! And oooooh Dakak! The waterfalls of Iligan (which I have never seen in my four-year stay there). The mystery of Enchanted River and Little Niagara of the Philippines, Tinuy-an Falls in Surigao. Or maybe I can try surfing in Siargao.

Awww. The list can be endless. :P

Whew! The idea, as always, is exciting! I have to endure bus rides though. No more comfy plane rides but hey, it also means no more expensive terminal fees and taxes! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Huling hirit sa tag-init: Palawan and Ilocos Norte Getaway

yeah, i know this is kinda late. should have updated the list a few weeks ago but i was not so sane lately and i'm not really in the mood to write.
so without further emotional explanations about my mood swings, i had two major trips just before i called the summer officially over. first stop, PALAWAN--the city in a forest. the beautiful beaches and islands of El Nido. the awesome works of nature. the amazing creations of God.

one could not possibly describe such a wonderful place in one note like this. my eight-day trip to Palawan was the best. i saw a lot of wonderful creations including a couple of sea turtles making their way to their home, the Turtle Island and an eagle diving for some fish right in front of our eyes. and who could ever forget the city of fireflies lighting the Iwahig River at night and the amazing rock formations in the Underground River. the experience was way above and beyond my expectations of the trip.
next stop: LAOAG, PAGUDPUD and VIGAN... this trip was nearly cancelled due to some financial issues but bringing your parents somewhere is one priceless experience, and I'm glad we pushed through with the planned trip.

I'm a beach person, so when we were in laoag, I was not that super amazed with what I saw. but, as soon as i caught a glimpse of the white beaches of Pagudpud, my jaws dropped. the Bangui Windmill was my favorite too (maybe because it was situated in the beach. hehe) it felt like i was not in the Philippines when we were in the windmills, it felt more like hmmmm.. i don't know, bangui? lol *corny*
Vigan was one beautiful place too. it's a cute sight, those old houses make you feel like you're in the Spanish era (i felt like a maria clara for a while. what?! haha)
having that trip with my parents was a really nice experience. i get to show them how i go about my trips even without a company and actually telling them that they have nothing to worry about when I'm out somewhere. :)
oh well, i guess that's about it for my summer getaway. my palawan trip had some drama attached to it but, hey, i'm ok and i still love palawan, no matter what. hehe ilocos norte was amazing too, might want to go back to spend a night in pagudpud.
so, next stop?the queen city of the south, Cebu. :)