Road Trip to Bicol Region Philippines (Dec. 26 to 30, 2008)

Our Mode of Transportation: Toyota Revo. (SUV)
Other Options: by Bus from the terminals in Cubao or by Plane from NAIA.
Recommended: Fly there and rent a car when you get there.

Season I Went: Winter
Recommended Season: Spring/Post Holidays (not too hot and almost no chance of rain)

My brother and I left Pasig City at around 930pm the night of the 26th. We stopped by a gas station in Minasag, Bicol at around 400am to take a power nap. (MILEAGE: 308km)

We made it to Daet just in time for breakfast. We took a quick detour to Bagasbas Beach and had Lugaw and Chicken Mami for breakfast. How was the food? It was good, just perfect for our empty bellies! Of course I grew up accustomed to the food so excuse my lack of excitement. (MILEAGE: 355km)

Breakfast by the Bagasbas Beach

The next stop was Pili, home of the tasty Pili Nuts. We picked up my friend Fanny and her cousin (Lyra) and nieces (Inna&Ichi) and nephew (Kingloy). (MILEAGE: 485km) Good thing we brought the big car. Haha. The kids were all very cute and funny and ate a lot more than we did. I must say, if you find yourself disappointed at Bicol, they will definitely make up for it! We then drove back north to Naga City to have lunch at Red Platter. It's supposed to be famous, and it was full when we ate there, but I didn't think it had anything special to offer. I don't even remember what I had. The best I can say is, it's not a bad option if your stomach is shouting at you!

The day ended south with a drive to Legaspi City. This time it was only my brother, Fanny, Lyra and I; it was raining. We spent the night in Sampaguita Tourist Inn. Costing less than $20 per night, it's acceptable if you're not picky. The room was clean and they were able to provide fresh towels as you need them. There is a small convenience store in the lobby, but it doesn't stay open very late. This is my case doesn't make it very convenient. (MILEAGE: 485km)

The group got up at 7ooam and headed further south to Donsol. (MILEAGE: 723km) Their main attraction is the sighting of an endangered specie native to that region, the whale shark or butanding. It is a government ran tourist attraction. It costs PhP 1000 for a boat to take you to the middle of the Philippine Sea and swim with the whale shark (that is if you can spot them and catch them); and another PhP 150 if you want to rent a snorkel. It was still raining. We spent about 2 hours at sea, spotted only 2, and each one disappeared within a second. Guys, its all about timing.

After this disappointment, we faced another one in our return to Legazpi City. Next in our list is the visit to Mt. Mayon. It is known for its perfect shaped cone and the Cagsawa Ruins that makes it not just an attraction but a historical land mark. It is unfortunate however that the rain kept us from seeing its full beauty. We only saw the bottom of the volcano. At the end of the day we returned to the hotel and kicked it with a bottle of wine and a game of Pusoy Dos, which I just found out is also called Big Two.

Cagsawa Ruins. Mt. Mayon is behind it, hiding in the clouds.

This brings us to the final day of the trip. We returned to Pili to pick up the kids and then drove to Mt. Isarog. The sun is finally shining, but Mt. Mayon is still hiding. We hiked the dormant volcano, our destination: the Malabsay Falls. It is gorgeous and roaring with power and my pictures do not do it justice. After a few hours in the mountain our hosts brought us to the CWC or CamSur Watersports Complex. After an amazing one-on-one with mother nature, why would you take anyone do something like this? Hmmm. I do appreciate their time, but come on. Nothing can beat a tiring hike topped with a beautiful waterfall. Get it right! ;)

Malabsay Falls atop Mt. Isarog

We ended our trip with Sinigang sa Buko and Crablets for dinner and a short nap and headed back north to the city. The sinigang was sweet, a nice twist from the usually sour soup that I love. And the crablets were crunchy and a little salty, just like the way I like it!

Disclaimer: Prices mentioned are from 2 years ago. The economy may have caused the prices to go down or up.

Blabbering :)

I'm adapting a format. Why? Make it less wordy and more informative. Yes? Yes!

So what the hell have I been up to? I just got back from Jamaica. I done a boat load of "I've never done that before" type of stuff this year.

I've done quite a bit this year and I should make a list so I can write about all them before the information gets too outdated... But... I am starting my masters in about a week... So... I don't think that's happening.

Happy Holidays Champs!


The Curse

Julio, possibly the best travel buddy. Always happy and almost never annoyed at me. (I can be quite annoying) My friends always marvel at how amazing we are together, especially in making even Kansas a hell of a lot of fun! However, there is a downside to this awe-inspiring duo... Our trips are cursed with traffic violations..

Roadtrip #1: Weed, CA
About 2 hours past the state line from Oregon, just past the beautiful Shasta National Park, just after an amazing night camping in Warm Springs, OR, in the 97 South, a 10 wheeler takes over the fast lane with its very slow speed, driver (Julio) passes the truck with a decent speed for silver, gets pulled over for speeding. In WEED CALIFORNIA. Offender drove away with a speeding ticket.

Roadtrip #2: TX&UT
From the ClayPlace (i really don't know why we did that) in the city streets of El Paso Texas, just after having an amazing meal in the Rib Hut, driver (Julio) gets pulled over for going straight on a turn only lane. Offender got away with a warning.
About a week later, a few blocks from the majestic Grand Canyon and about 24 hours to seeing the gorgeous Zion National Park, in the 89 North in Kanab, UT, driver (josel) tail gates another 10 wheeler and gets pulled over for speeding. Offender moped away with a speeding ticket.

Roadtrip #3: Philadelphia, PA
Had pizza and beer in Pretty Philly. Drove back to the hotel, parked in the street because I am cheap. QUICK TIP: Hotels in Philly do not have parking lots, but there are parking structures across from them that require an in and out or per 24hr parked payment of $10+. It's 830 am. I get up ready to move the car to a more secure location, because its street cleaning from 9am to 11am. I walk out, its raining, street is clean, car is gone. Somehow, none of us saw the red ass sign that says we'll tow your ass if you're parked here during rush hour. Yeay for parking violation and towing fees! Offender took a cab to take the car from the towing lot. Oh, what fun!

Roadtrip 4: Somewhere between Kingman, AZ and Seligman, AZ
We were just driving. On the way to see the meteor crater just south of Flagstaff, AZ. Julio was sleeping. Driver was driving while listening to Adam Carolla. Driver has sore throat. On the 40 east. Spit phlegm out the window, we're good, I can do this. One more time. Spit phlegm out the window, hmmm, i wonder if it stays out or goes back into the car and how it reacts to the wind and the car's speed and its density and whatnot and the next thing I know we are body bumping with the bushes in the median. We come out alive. Offender is scared. Silver had to stay for 2 weeks to get a face lift.

Will I go to another road trip with my buddy? Yes, definitely! I am not superstitious, even if I call it the curse, every single violation is worth all the fun of traveling and of having Julio as my companion.


Lost in Joshua Tree with Scott (Dec 12, 2009)

The idea was to go on a hike, who knew he was gonna cross out a destination on my checklist.

Got up at 7am, loaded Sophia with some Justin Timberlake, stopped for half a dozen of doughnuts for breakfast, and headed south to Costa Mesa to meet up with the Scott. Left the OC at around 830am, doughnuts and coffee in hand. This is gonna be a wonderful day!

After about 3 hours of driving in the rain, hello Joshua Tree! You seem well and dry :( hopes of playing with mud in the desert dead in an instant. The wonderful thing about nature, there are never repeat experiences despite the repeat locations.

It's so easy to get lost. Bring a friend (preferably someone you can stand for many, many hours in case you get lost or a flash light), bring a map (even if it's gonna rain, MORE SO IF ITS GONNA RAIN!), bring food (nothing that will attract the coyotes please!).

Creatures of the desert. Pile of poop or lovers turned into stone?

Giant Palm Trees, beware!!!

How amazing was it?? Let's just say he's been there enough times to possibly have a good idea of the trails and such, but we still got lost. Hah. The 4 hour hike turned into an 8 hour one and we ended up with quite the exercise. On that note, the giant palm tree trail is a dead end..

With so much trust and confidence that the Scott knows what's going on, I walk into the wilderness with him without asking questions. The moment we realize that we were lost, all confidence is lost as well. Here's roughly how it went:
J: You hike a lot, don't you have a GPS?
S: Yeah, but I left it at home.
J: Why?
S: I thought it was gonna rain, I didn't want it to get wet.
J: What?
S: Sorry
J: Hmmm, how bout a map?
S: I left it at home, too.
J: Because you didn't want it to get wet?
S: (smiles in embarrassment) Yeah.
J: Don't they have any in the ranger station? Why didn't we get some, it'll prolly be cheap.
S: It's free.

My legs were sore all week from the walking.



So I'm back. I haven't been anywhere new since June in New York. But I will start writing again. And as promised it will be filled with as many addresses, phone numbers, and websites of all the awesomeness this planet has to offer.

I also may move, to Seattle. And I have my EIT. Yes I am some sort of geek. And I am still looking to kick off my career. But I do have a job that keeps me kicking.