Monday, August 20, 2012

Solo Trip: Misamis Occidental and Zanorte

June 9 - 11, 2012

The idea of travelling alone made me stirred up, so I pushed through with my trip in spite of my friends refusing or cancelling their trip with me. Morning of June 9, I hastily went to the airport thinking that I'll not be able to check-in on time. Oddly, my flight to Dipolog was cancelled and they offered flights via Manila with free lunch or via Ozamis with 500Php bus allowance. Obviously, I went for the latter! I didn't have any plans, nor reserved anybody so anything goes with my trip.

It felt great to arrive at Ozamis safe. I tried calling my friends nearby but to no avail. A friend wanted me to go to Pagadian, but its far from what I have planned. Show must go on, I went straight to Hoyohoy Highland Adventure Park which I thought would be very near. I had to get off the habal-habal few times for an almost impassable terrain. I still have trauma riding a motorbike but I didn't have a choice, or so I thought. There's actually a more safe and cheaper way going there, via bus and van. Riding the longest zipline was addictive, I so wanted to do it over and over again. Their buffet was  not bad considering its price.

I checked-in at a cheap yet cozy hotel, took a nap then toured around Ozamis. Of course, I never missed checking out their night scene, met some locals and chilled. The next day, I did not waste any minute to pack-up my things and headed on to my next stop, Dolphin Island. I was able to watch Pacquiao's fight and had a full lunch while waiting for the boat. It wasn't really that much of a must-do and a No for a solo traveler, but their restaurant in the middle of the sea was very much refreshing plus a nice set of meals. I also was entertained by their monkeys while roaming around their mangrove forest.

Before I arrived at Dipolog, I had to take a quick tour around Oroquieta City. Nothing is written about this city online so I didn't stay that long. Dipolog on the other hand has a lot of things to discover, but I lacked the time. I stopped by Galeria Indelecio to check impressive artworks and I was able to see the artist himself! They serve snacks and while waiting he toured me around all of his masterpiece. I'm glad that his works were featured in magazines and the government acknowledged his talent through many awards and support. Just before sunset, I hurriedly went to Dapitan to find a decent place to freshen up. I'm so excited to check out the rides at Gloria de Dapitan's Fantasyland. The amusement park never ceased to surpass my expectations. I never thought a small city like Dapitan could pull off a park like that! People in costumes greeted me as I entered into their huge castle door. There were plenty of rides to choose from. Their Haunted House was awesome! Its a place locals should be really proud of and a spot tourists should never miss.

Morning the next day, I went to Rizal Shrine then Dakak. I've read some negative comments online about this resort, that its overrated. I beg to disagree. Everything was inviting - the beach, the pool, the slides, the gardens, needless to say their food! I was able to sleep under the shade not knowing about the time!

Will there be a solo trip again? Probably yes.




Things I spent:

Airfare - 444 Php (one way) + 200 Php terminal fee
Trike airport to Ozamis City - 60 Php
Habal-habal Ozamis to Hoyohoy Highlands - 150 Php
Buffet lunch at Hoyohoy - 150 Php
Zipline - 600 Php
Habal-habal Hoyohoy to Tangub - 100 Php
Tangub to Ozamis City - 45 Php
Overnight at 67th Boulevard Pension - 370 Php
Dinner at city proper - 65 Php
Iced frap at Dewberry Coffee - 75 Php
Bus Ozamis to Tudela (MOAP) - 22 Php
Lunch at MOAP Grilled Chicken Meal + Halo halo - 155 Php
Entrance MOAP - 10 Php
Non aircon van to Oroquieta - 35 Php
Non aircon bus to Dipolog - 120 Php
Good Times Cafe (Galeria Indelecio) - 110 Php
Non aircon minibus - 20 Php
Monina's Pension - 700 Php
Gloria's Fantasyland - 500 Php + 100 Php (Haunted House)
Dinner - 60 Php + Free coupon from Gloria's Fantasyland
Dakak Resort - 500 Php with free meal
Habal-habal around Dapitan - 500 Php
Oceanjet Fast Craft Dapitan to Cebu - 1330 Php
Terminal Fee - 15 Php
Total Expense : 6,436 Php

Things I learned:

1. Solo trip is fun after all. If you're up for something different, loves interacting with locals, wants to have your own pace, be lost and just do whatever you want to do, then traveling alone is for you. You just don't have somebody to share the memories though after your trip.
2. Mindanao is accessible. Modes of transport is ever present and roads are safe and paved. Local tourism must promote their attractions more for there's just a huge potential in these places.
3. Dapitan never ceased to amaze me. With such a small community, I never imagined that world class resort and amusement park reside. It brings back the kid in me. It's perfect for family trips, there's Rizal Park for a slice of history and Galeria Indelecio in Dipolog for arts.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bonding at San Remigio

May 12-13, 2012

To celebrate mothers' day and years of friendship with my mates, we went north of Cebu. There were plenty of plans - Kalanggaman Island, Samar, Canigao Island, but we ended up with a 1k overnight package at a resort. Package includes transportation, overnight stay and buffet breakfast - indeed worth-it! After a 3-hour van ride, I didn't expect to see just a few people, considering they have this cheap promo plus it's the resorts anniversary celebration. I perused the area, beach - okay, pool - okay, room - okay, but generally not impressive. I can't think of anything to do but take pictures, swim in the pool (the beach wasn't inviting), and bonding with friends. A trip I'm not used to - confined in one place. In the evening, after a long siesta, we had our buffet dinner complete with welcome leis. It wasn't that much of a celebration, probably because there were few of us (not enough marketing). At least there were bands, fire dancing, raffle draws and lantern lighting which made us a bit entertained. The next day, another swim, picture-taking and bonding, which our circle needs for we haven't gathered for quite some time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Memorable Date at Puerto Galera

April 28 - May 1, 2012

It's not the promo fare that enticed me to visit Puerto Galera but opportunity of having a company willing to unwind, explore and needless to say, spend. I've heard a lot from the place that made me really curious - apart from its world-renowned seascapes.

The two-hour bus ride from Manila to Batangas Port plus another couple of hours boat ride straight to White Beach was all worth it. Long and exhausting commute doesn't seem to bother me any longer, with all my experiences - time-consuming bus ride, riding with huge waves, stuck in a huge crowd, almost unbearable set-up, travel to Galera was like a walk in the park. Anyway, we haven't made any reservation so after seeing 1k a night per head at Batangas Port, considering its a peak season, we grabbed it even if its far from our accommodation preference, not beachfront. We were supposed to be fetched but since the hotel service didn't arrive after an hour, we decided to just ride a tricycle with a couple, who incidentally was also heading to the same resort we're in. The resort was far from what I expected - it's quite decent, set-up was unique, room was cozy, walking distance from the beach and there's a pool just outside our room (pool party wohoo)! I couldn't ask for more.

A week before, I was engrossed with my research that I was confused where our side trips will be - city tours at Calapan and San Jose, glimpse of the endemic tamaraw at Iglit-Baco National Park, a dive at Apo Reef, but we ended up staying within Galera. Beach, swim, sight seeing, food trip, window shop and party party were the routine. But of course, our trip will never be complete without dipping at Tamaraw and Tukuran Falls, and snorkeling under the most alive and vibrant underwater ecosystem I've seen. I will be back in Mindoro for the tamaraw (I may not see this animal exist anymore since its already extinct) and my jump-off point to Apo Reef!

Things I spent:

Aircon Bus Manila (Kamuning) to Batangas Port vv - 175 + 165 Php
Boat Batangas Port to White Beach vv - 500 Php
Environmental + Terminal Fees - 50 + 30 Php
4D3N Stay at Hollywood Palm Beach Resort w/o Breakfast + Transpo service - 3,000 Php
Food 4D3N + Chill (Mindoro Sling) - 1,200Php
Island Hopping (2,500 for 8pax) - 417 Php each for the six of us
Smaller Boat Charge for snorkeling and underwater cave - 300 Php
Environmental Fee -  30 Php
Tamaraw + Tukuran Falls (1,200 Php for 3 pax) - 600 Php
Total Expense: 6,467 Php

Things I learned:

1. Galera is very commercialized. Positive in the sense that there's a system, established, directions are available and with a cool crowd. Down part is, there's no crowd control, people tend to exploit and prices are so over rated. Without any partiality, food and partyin' are inexpensive. Cool board shorts cost for as low as 150 bucks!

2. Island hopping tour is somewhat misleading. There are other fees you have to pay aside from the boat rent, environmental fee, entrance fee and a smaller boat rent for 300 Php per head! For a cheap thrill without the hassle, you rent a tricycle or van for a day (price can be haggled), check the two falls half of the day, then ask the driver to drop by directly at the smaller boats' wharf for you to snorkel the rest of the day!

3. Galera, just like Boracay is a good dating place for an adventurous couple. There are a number of worthwhile activities which will not make your stay a total bore. Activities which could strengthen your bond and make fond memories together.