Thursday, December 26, 2013

One Summer Camp Tale in Zambales

Summer is one of the best time of the year to try something new in travel. One of the new things I try is camping. I never experience this kind of activity while in another place. As a first timer, I find it exciting and unique for a summer activity. And the camping sites in the coves of Zambales were the perfect place for one memorable summer camp tale.

The beauty of Nagsasa Cove from the boat's eye view.
I was scouting for a place to spend my birthday with friends when I stumble upon Zambales weekend camp escapades. It was a perfect place to spend summer and to discover Zambales' beautiful beaches, hidden beauty of nature and charming coves. So I invited my friends and went off to San Antonio, Zambales for a 5 hour bus trip. There is only limited bus schedule that goes directly to San Antonio so we take an alternate option by taking an Olongapo bound bus (3 hour ride from Manila) and then change bus for an hour and a half trip to San Antonio.

The beauty of Zambales.
Mountain ranges of San Antonio, Zambales.
Since we're on a camping trip, we bought our food supplies first at the public market of San Antonio before going to the port of Barangay Pundaquit where the boats are located that will bring us to the coves. After buying enough food supplies that we will cook, we took a 15 minute trycycle ride to Pundaquit were our guide and bangkero, Marvin is waiting for us for the boat trip. San Antonio is a second class municipality of the province of Zambales where one of its 14 barangays is Pundaquit - the jumpoint to its islands, beaches, and coves.

In Zambales, there are many coves and islands to choose from to visit. Bangkeros or boatmen that also serves as guides to these sights offers standard island hopping rates for various packages that visitors can choose from. As the organizer of the trip, I choose to camp in Nagsasa Cove for its secludedness, quietness and wonderful sights with a side trip visit to Anawngin Cove and Camara Island. Another famous island for its lighthouse, Capones Island and Talisayin and Silanguin Coves can be visited as well depending on your preferred choice of island hopping package with bangkeros.

From Pundquit port, I can already see the island of Camara and Capones but we will first visit the famed camping cove of Anawangin first. It is a 30 minute boat ride to Anawangin Cove where upon arrival you'll be greeted by lined Agoho trees (Pine trees). Anawangin Cove has many beautiful mountain ranges to view but I find it very crowded since there are a lot of campers and visitors in its camping sights. It is also unfortunate to see that its beach shore is eroded deeply making it a very low shoreline to the water. But on the good side, Anawangin Cove has a gorgeous pine tree forests to explore towards its inner area where table picnics and benches for group gatherings and lunches can be found. On the other side, there is an intersecting lake within the pine tree forests that visitors cannot only explore for photoshoots and scenic viewing but also do kayaking activity. I explore those sights of Anawangin except doing a hike to its hilly ranges to view the cresent moon shape cove of Anawangin. I explore the shores again before me and my friends return to the boat again to proceed to our camping cove.

The shores of Anawangin Cove greets you with this scenic line of pine trees.
Bejeweled beauty of Anawangin Cove.
Nagsasa Cove is our next destination. This is where we will stop for an overnight camping. From Anawangin Cove, it is approximately 40 minute boat trip to Nagsasa Cove. I felt it was a very long boat ride to Nagsasa but good thing is the sea waves are calm so boat ride is smooth but my eyes were the one in real delight. My eyesight feasted to the beautiful mountain ranges and gorgeous seascape of Zamabales' landscape and seascape while enroute to the cove. The amazing beauty of nature made up for the long boat ride to Nagsasa Cove which is an eyesight delight too!

Setting our tent at Nagsasa Cove.
From the boat's eyeview of Nagsasa Cove, it is wider and huge than Anawangin Cove. It has a charm of its own that visitors will surely fall in love with. The mountain ranges and hills are stunning and bewitching. Whether you look to your left or to your right eye view, you will be greeted by its astonishing beauty. We arrived at almost 12 noon - just the right time to prepare our lunch meals. I was still in awe to the beauty of Nagsasa Cove. It wasn't just stunning. It is beyond marvelous, something divine beauty in it. The shoreline, the white sand beach and the mountain ranges that makes you feel you're not in the country but somehwere in New Zealand or Switzerland mountains as your daily nature backdrop while fronting you are calm waters and at the back are scenic pine trees - Nagsasa Cove is a complete bliss for nature lovers like me!

Just one of side of beauty of Nagsasa Cove.
Our boatmen and guide, Marvin leave us this time at the cove. He will fetch us the day after in the morning for the continuaton of our island hopping. We prepare our lunch and thereafter we set up our tent for the overnight sleep. I find it fun and exciting to cook our own meals in camping style and setting up our tent. We cook a lot of food as if a feast is coming well its my birthday but also because it is enough up to dinner because there is no electricity in Nagsasa Cove which it will be hard to cook dinner by night time. Taking a restroom, using water and washing in the cove's campsite is not a problem. There's a clean restroom and enough tap water from the mountains to use. I also had a great bonding time with my friends upon seeting our tent. It was all first time activity for me that's why I'm enthusiastic to all this camping activity.

Since there is no electricity in the cove, you have to fully charged all your electronic gadgets before going there or else your memories of Zambales camping trip will be ruin in total regret! Beware also that there no mobile signal in the coves too. And stores for your needs are scarce and if there is, it is very expensive since you are in a remote place. It's a total seclusion to the busy urban life to fully appreciate Zambales' beauty.

Zambales Sunset.
After we settle our meals, its time to explore the cove of Nagsasa. The cove is wide and I think an afternoon exploration is not enough to see and visit all of it. We even failed to swim in its waters because we we're so into exploring the cove.We started going to its left side to explore Biri Biri Camp where there are huge rock formations to explore We spend a lot of time there that we were caught by sunset time at the area. Zambales sunset is totally stunning just like Nagsasa Cove. It was undoubtedly breathtaking as it goes down behind the mountain ranges.

Birthday night dinner at Zambales.
It was getting dark so we return to our camp site for dinner. But before we dine, my friends suddenly surprise me with birthday cupcakes to celebrate my birthday night! I'm delighted and extremely happy to their surprise because I'm clueless and wondering on how did they hide those cupcakes in their backpack bags considering we went on a long and rough ride. We had a feastful dinner, enjoy sharing stories in front of the bon fire while roasting hotdogs and ended toasting a booze of beers and Irish cream to celebrate my birthday and our happy stay in Zambales until we got drunk.

The following morning, Marvin fetch us very early to continue our island hopping. We quickly settled our things especially our tent and leftover food. Before we got on the boat, we savor our last stay in Nagsasa Cove by taking addtional souvenir photos on top of the previous day that we had. Then, we're off again into the sea to cruise for an hour to Camara Island - our last destination in Zambales.

The islet at Camara Island.
Camara Island has a pristine white-sand beach and an islet connected by a sandbar that submerges when the level of tides changes. The scenic seascape of the island makes it an ideal for summer photoshoot. The island also has shallow waters ideal for a relaxing swim. Other sections of the island has nice spots for sunbathing, for viewing seascape sceneries and for beach bumming. After we stay for photoshoots, exploration and a 15 minute swim, we left Camara Island to return to Pundaquit port which is just a 10 to 12 minute boat ride from the island.

Camara Island from Pundaquit Beach.
I amor Zambales too!
We ate our remaining meals at a nearby beach hut resorts in Pundaquit which also offers bathroom use services for a minimal fee. We took a bath and fix ourselves so we look fresh when we arrive to Manila later. By 1pm, we took an Olongapo bound bus that passes across the main street on the opposite side fronting San Antonio Municipal Hall. The bus arrived at Cubao bus station just enough time that I can catch my night shift duty schedule that day.

I'm glad that I was able to celebrate my birthday with my friends this time. I had a good laugh, shared stories, happy moments and joyful bonding with them. I'm also glad to celebrate my birthday along with the high time of Summer season on a perfect summertime places of Zambales. With all of these ingredients of a perfect summer trip adventure, this trip is definitely a memorable one summer camp tale!

One Summer Camp Tale in Zambales is part of my Zambales trip blog series that happened last March 18-19, 2013. This is my third trip of Summer 2013 and part two of my birthday travel trip.
You may also like to read the other parts of the series. (Link available soon)
+ Anawangin Cove: In one Summer Camp Tale in Zambales
+ Nagsasa Cove: In one Summer Camp Tale in Zambales
+ Camara Island: In one Summer Camp Tale in Zambales 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Puerto Princesa: Palawan's Unrivaled Princess

Puerto Princesa is a true haven of beauty of nature. Just within its city borders are some of the most amazing natural sights that every Palawenos can be proud of. No wonder about it since Puerto Princesa is one of the few places in the world where a complete mountain-sea-forest ecosystem still exist. With its rich biodiversity of seascape and landscape, Puerto Princesa City gears up as one of the greenest and cleanest city in the country.

One of the 7 wonders of nature - Puerto Princesa Underground River!
As the plane approaches the airport runway, I can already see from the plane window, a beautiful reef surrounding the runway that made me excited to explore this city of Palawan. Arriving early in the morning in the “princess of ports” is the ideal time to explore its natural sights and places of interests. Together with my family and relatives, we were fetched by our contact accommodation in Puerto Princesa – Victoria Guest House and Cottages who also did arrangement for our tour around the city.   Victoria Guest House and Cottages is conveniently located to near the airport with just a travel time of around 10 to 12 minutes. Upon arrival, we were welcome by refreshment drinks before we settled at their home-style room accommodation.

Stunning reef right from the airplane window as it approaches Puerto Princesa Airport.
Victoria Guest House and Cottages reception area.
One of the must-see to explore in Puerto Princesa City is the newly voted one of the 7 new wonders of Nature – The Underground River at Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. But before we embarked on the trip going to the Underground River, I must secure a permit first at its town office. Securing a permit to visit the underground river is a must since the tourism office is just limiting its visitors per day and must be arranged prior to travel date because it’s hard to get permit as it is mostly booked especially during Summer. Luckily, even we waited for a standby slot we were still able to get a slot despite of peak season of visitors. I failed to do prior arrangement for this trip to Underground River because our tickets to Puerto Princesa were open-dated with a possible for stand by passengers. With secured slots, we embarked on a 2 hour road trip to Sabang Port, the jump point of trip to the Underground River.

From Sabang Port, you must ride a mid-size outrigger boat for 30 minutes to reach the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park which has a docking port for boats. This is the best and faster way to reach the national park since the alternate way is trekking to the mountains and forests of the park which takes longer time to reach it. At the park, I was immediately greeted by the towering walls of rock formations and stunning white sand beach that I did not miss to photograph. There’s a short walk through the wildlife park and canopy of trees to reach the lagoon where the mouth of the underground river starts. Here, you still have to wait from a queue of visitors by group number as the next ride is a paddle boat good for a group of eight person.

Seaward bound...
Only in Puerto Princesa...
While we are paddling from the lagoon towards the mouth of the underground river, our boatman and guide brief us of the information about the park, the underground river and what to expect during the entire cruise inside the cave. The Puerto Princesa Underground River is 24 kilometres long and is navigable by boat up to 4 kilometres but we only explored up to 1 and a half kilometres of the river. The underground river is submerged inside a huge cave so as we paddle inside the cave, the temperature starts to drop and wind is chilly cold. We were warned when looking at ceiling of the cave especially with open mouth because bat’s droppings might drop on you.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River.
As we enter into an abyss-like darkness of the cave, only a single light at the front of our paddle boat is the source of light which use for pointing special rock formations that our guide explains throughout the cruise. Inside The underground river were wonderful and marvellous decorations of stalactites and stalagmites as well as cathedral-like chambers and dome as high as a huge arena. The rock formations inside resembles a lot of objects and person like a Holy Family tableu, fruits, towers, sexy woman, genital patterns which made us laugh but the scary shape that I saw was a Velociraptor-like dinosaur formation that seemed to be frozen in time.  

Inside the abyss...
Marveling inside the underground river.
The dark and eerie trip inside the cave may induce freakiness and not good for claustrophobics yet I was entertained by the beautiful rock formations that I saw inside the cave. It was also nice to think that is was naturally formed. I was amazed by these underground cave sights with huge pillar, chambers and towering like formations that would really made me marvel to its natural beauty. I didn’t mind the darkness and pitch black atmosphere. I think it is part of the thrilling trip to the underground river. The cruise inside Puerto Princesa Underground River takes almost 2 hours back and forth via a paddle boat. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park where the underground river is located is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List for being the only national park in the country with thick tropical forest cover within the city. Last January 2012, it was chosen as one of the new 7 wonders of Nature campaign.

Seafood dinner at Victoria Guest House and Cottages.
By evening, I celebrated my birthday with a seafood dinner with my family and relatives. It was an early celebration since my birth date is the following day. Our seafood dinner consists of buttered shrimp, sweet and sour lapu-lapu (which spell-binded me with its taste!) and two bowls of sinigang sa miso. It was a sumptuous dinner! The dinner was part of the Iwahig River Firefly Tour and Stargazing package that we availed from Victoria Guest House and Cottages.

We proceeded to Iwahig River for our Firely and Stargazing tour which is definitely ideal to visit by night time. It was a 30 minute ride to the river from Puerto Princesa city proper. The firefly and stargazing tour goes via a paddle boat with guide who is also your boatman for a group of 3 people only per small boat. The cruise is via Iwahig River which was flourishing with numerous plantations of mangroves. These mangrove trees are home to fireflies which lights up the trees like flashing Christmas lights on a Christmas tree. It was delightful and wonderful sight to us as we cruise along the pitch-black surroundings of the river.  It also hard to take photos of the fireflies due to the darkness of the surrounding so I just contented myself a picture of it in my mind and stop taking photos of it. As we cruise along, the boatman explains to us the information about the fireflies and the importance of mangrove ecosystem and its role. The fireflies’ presence apparently indicates a clean ecosystem. I saw more and more firefly sightings in the mangroves as we continue to cruise. It was another natural beauty sight of Puerto Princesa to me.

Firefly and Stargazing tour!
Can you spot where the firefly is?
As we return to the port, we had a stargazing of star constellations in the bright starry night. It was perfect stargazing moment because the darkness of the surroundings makes the sky blanketed with star glowed throughout the cruise. The boatman shares to us the different constellations that we can see from the starry sky using a laser pointer light. While he explains the constellations, I realized that it was a beautiful evening – pleasant weather, delightful sights and a wonderful place. The boatman also point to us, the glowing planktons in the water with the laser light that makes it glitter in the river. As the cruise stops, I realized how important ecotourism works in the community of the Iwahig River. It just doesn’t promote and help the preservation of the environment by spreading awareness and doing active participation but also helps the community and its people in getting income and source of livelihood. What a great benefit from ecotourism!

The Iwahig River cruise takes about an hour tour. But if visitors prefer a morning cruise along Iwahig River, there are still paddle boats available for morning cruise too.  

Underwater Palawan...
The following morning was my birthday! I want to do something memorable like snorkeling and beach-bumming. I always had an affinity to ocean and beaches so we decided to do an island hopping tour of Honda Bay which famed for its numerous islets, rich marine life and white sand beaches. My other travel mates decided to do a city tour of Puerto Princesa City. It was a one and half hour drive to reach the jump point port of Honda Bay island hopping tour. But before we reached the port, we already went to a rental shop for snorkeling gears, reef shoes and camera water-proof case that proved to be useful in our island hopping tour.

Blue Corals at Pambato Reef.
The first island we toured is actually not an island but a reef named Pambato Reef. The reef has a huge and sheltered platform for visitors briefing and waiting area before diving into the coral garden which was covered by a giant art design of a sea turtle. Pambato Reef has large hectares of coral garden teeming with rich corals, fishes and other marine life. I particularly enjoyed seeing the glowing blue corals in numbers. It was my first time to do snorkeling on my birthday so I really enjoyed it a lot!

In Panorama: The sandbar of Luli Island.
In fifteen minutes, we reached Luli Island, so called for its characteristics of lulubog (sinking) and lilitaw (rising) above the sea. Luli Island is just small but also has a coral garden that is perfect for another snorkeling activity. The island is also characterized by having a long stretch of sand-bar which can be explored by its visitors.

Finally, we went to Cowrie Island which was our last island tour in Honda Bay. Cowrie Island is named after the cowrie shell and an ideal island for resting for visitors because it has the amenities of a resort island like restaurants, restrooms, nipa huts, etc. But what is also wonderful in Cowrie Island are its long stretch of white sand beaches surrounding it while facing the beautiful seascape and stunning mountains of Palawan. Photographs from these islands are post-perfect!

Welcome to Cowrie Island!
Parking spaces. It's more fun in Puerto Princesa!
In Cowrie Island we had our lunch included in the package tour. The lunch is a buffet meal and composed of large servings that is more than enough for our group in the tour. For me, it was a great birthday lunch while admiring the beauty of the islands and nature of Palawan! And there is much more to discover and explore In Puerto Princesa if time permits me. But with all of those marvelous natural beauty and beautiful sights that I experienced within the city, then it is no wonder that Puerto Princesa will always be Palawan’s unrivaled princess.  

Puerto Princesa City: Palawan’s Unrivaled Princess is part of my Puerto Princesa City trip blog series last March 14-15, 2013. This is my second trip of Summer 2013 and part one of my birthday travel trip.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baguio: Blooming Odyssey of Summer

When Summer starts to fill the air, I always feel longing to travel someplace as they say Summer is the best time to travel. As the heat of weather comes with the season, some feel like going to cooler places where there is enough warm to console one’s adventurous spirit. This is just what I feel when I think of spending my first trip of Summer this year. And what could be any ideal place to spend my Summer than to spend it to the “Summer Capital” of the country – Baguio! It’s the place to be when it’s Summer as Baguio will always be not just a perfect place for a cool weather and relaxation but enough for exploring new things while enriching oneself’s thirst for adventure.

City of Pines in Tam-awan Village's viewpoint.
Arriving early in the morning in the City of Pines, the cool weather yearns for a long sleep but if you’re hungry, it’s interesting to try food and exotic cuisines at Balajadia's Kitchenette (Slaughter House Compound, Balajadia St., Barangay Sto. Nino, 2600 Baguio City) in Slaughter House Compound. Slaughter House is a cluster of restaurant that serves home-style cooked and roasted cuisines that are mostly meat. One of the exotic cuisine that I tried is Papaitan (Goat Bile Stew) but I highly recommend their Bulalo (Beef shank and bone marrow soup) which is a perfect comfort food for the cool weather of Baguio.

Baguio, here I come!
Sunrise welcoming me as I arrived at the borders of Baguio...
My summer visit to Baguio is just timely for the Panagbenga Festival period which runs from late February up to early March. This is a period of time in the city where most of the flowers are in full bloom, hence the celebration of the festival. Although, I did not arrive during the main parade event of the flowers, I enjoyed the blooming sceneries of Baguio flowers. It is no wonder that visitors and tourists flocks the city during this period. It’s not just about the cool temperature of the weather but also because the surroundings of the city are enticing to roam and stroll at with the lovely blooms of the flowers in every corner. I enjoyed walking around the streets with these beautiful sceneries of Baguio especially at morning time.

Bulalo for a cool weather.
Late but sumptuous lunch at Balajadia's Kitchenette.
Located in Pinsao Proper, is the art and cultural venue named Tam-awan Village. “Tam-awan” means vantage point in local dialect because of its location where scenic views of La Union and Baguio can be seen in its view decks.What you’ll see in the village are Ifugao huts and Kalinga houses made of original materials and lay out in the village resembling the design of a traditional Cordillera Village. Some of these houses and huts can also be rented for an overnight accommodation stay too. You can also trek inside the village trails to see its scenic view decks and other indigenous houses which I did with my travel mates. I enjoyed and amused by the sceneries of pine trees amidst at times covered by a thick haze of mist. The place is also a showcase of indigenous craftsmanship especially of Ifugao people where there are art galleries and craft shop for its appreciation. Tam-awan Village also provides art workshops for drawing, painting and solar drawing in keeping its tradition of promoting, sustain and preserve art particularly of Cordillera. My visit to Tam-awan Village made me appreciate Cordillera life, culture and history.

One of the preserve Cordillera house inside Tam-awan Village.
Trailing the view points of Tam-awan Village.
Beautiful small white flowers along the trail...
Luccong - one of the traditional Cordillera houses on exhibit at Tam-awan Village. 
Tam-awan Village - Garden in the Sky.
Art galleries on display...
Panagbenga Festival in Tam-awan Village!
By afternoon, it is an ideal time to stroll around Session Road - the main thoroughfare of Baguio City and is the main hub of what is called the Baguio Central Business District. It is located in the city center that’s why it is also the center of Panagbenga Festival activities where lots of locals and visitors flock through. It is divided into two parts - Lower and Upper Session Road.

Comfort food at Oh My Gulay! - Hot chocolate at Mango Crepe.
The art space and chic Oh My Gulay! interiors.
Along Session Road, there is an interesting cafĂ© and restaurant because of its artistic touches and designs that is worth spending an afternoon with is interestingly named Oh My Gulay! (Rooftop floor, La Azotea Building, Session Road, Baguio). The restaurant with its name mainly serves vegetarian dishes but it happens to be a big space of art galleries showcase as well! Every corner of the place has aesthetically considered art. Once you pass the cave-like entrance, you’ll be greeted with a fish pond, a theatre stage and a large wooden boat with various art pieces of sculptures and paintings. After I took a sip of their hot chocolate and munch on their sweet mango crepe with ice cream, I took time to explore the art galleries of Oh My Gulay. There’s a room space of paintings and indigenous sculptures which I try to mimic. Even their restroom amused me with its colorful laid out of crystal-like tiles designed in its walls. A visit to Oh My Gulay is not just for satisfying my tummy but also pleasing sensors for art appreciation.

Early evening I visited one of the famous park in the city, Burnham Park. Even though its evening, visitors still flocks the park for an evening stroll and tries to do paddling in its man-made lake. What made my night time visit to Burnham Park dramatic and memorable was the full lit of the surrounding lights with the full moon light on the sky reflects on the lake water. It was a perfect night time shot of Burnham Park though I still wishes to see this park in the morning. My visit to the park marks my return here after 15 years since my first visit on Burnham Park way back in 1997. Isn’t it a feat?

Night time at Burnham Park.
Hungry for dinner? Then, it’s not a problem when you’re looking big dinner servings at Glenn 50’s Diner (92 Upper General Luna Road, Corner Brent Road, Baguio City). I had their Guys on the Hood servings which compose of spaghetti pasta, fried chicken, pizza, slice pork chop with fries and garlic bread. What a meal! I highly recommend it! The meal has big servings that satisfied my hungry stomach. All other meals too in Glenn 50’s Diner had big servings too like The Famous 50’s Burger which my friend tried. No wonder it’s always crowded with patrons and visitors especially at dinner time. We had a hard time finding seat space before we finally settled for our dinner. Inside the restaurant, it has a 50’s look – it has jukebox, posters of celebrities who dominated the decade, and of course, 50s music all day and night.

Guys on the Hood serving at Glenn 50's dinner and Penetration Point at Concoctions Bar and Resto.
Night life is definitely one of the hit activities that shouldn’t be miss when in Baguio. So right after dinner we went to Concoctions Bar and Resto (Upper General Luna Road Extension, Baguio) to sample Baguio’s night life, bar lounging and have a good drink, of course! What I like about in Concoctions Bar and Resto is that they small stage for live music performances of their bands where guests with singings talents can also perform if they want to. The music that night was relaxing bossa nova tunes from two female singer of the band who did stir the crowd with their beautiful and sultry voices.  Our drinks started with a glass pail of hard liquor called Penetration Point – true to its name, it seems to have penetrating effect! My musically gifted colleagues then volunteered to perform on stage when the band invited anyone in the audience to sing. Singing Howie Day’s Collide, my colleagues delighted the whole crowd. I enjoyed our night in Baguio and finished off with a few more beer until we get drunk but still manage to get home to Hotel 45 (Bagong Bayan St., Brgy. Salud Mitra, Baguio City).

A trip to the “City of Pines” is not complete without visiting Baguio’s fame Mines View Park. The park has always been a popular tourist attraction where tourists can shop, explore and view the scenery. An abandoned mine, used by early Ibaloi/Igorot peoples, is viewed from the viewing deck of the park. The park is also popular for shopping souvenir items from Baguio as there are numerous stalls of souvenir shop in and out around the park. One of the best activities in Mines View Park is to snack on the uniquely sweet Strawberry Taho – a strawberry syrup flavoured soybean curd pudding. You can also have souvenir photographs with a pink-haired horse or with a big Saint Bernard breed dog but the best Baguio souvenir photograph activity is dressing on the native Igorot costumes while doing sorts of funny poses for the camera.  

A panoramic shot of the view in front of Mines View Park viewing deck.
Flowers at Session Road.
It was afternoon already when the rain spoiled last day in Baguio. It made me realize that during summertime, we should visit places in the city starting early in the morning for us not to have spoiled rainy afternoon visits. Yet, me and my travel mates pursue on visiting Camp John Hay to discover other activities we can have while in Baguio. Since it was raining, we settled first in the camp’s Mile-Hi Center to eat at Mile-Hi Diner, a retro inspired restaurant serving American food fares like burgers, steaks and ribs. It occupies a 90 square meter space with al fresco dining area at Mile Hi Center of Camp John Hay. Mile-Hi Diner serves American/Mexican cuisine like Burger Steak, Tacos, Chili with Beans, Mexican Pizza, Buritos, Quesadillas, and Sizzling Fajitas. I tried their big serving of traditional American burger.  

Pine Trees at Camp John Hay grounds.
The first trip of Summer 2013 is no better than spend of the summer capital - Baguio!
I wish to explore more of Camp John Hay’s attraction and pine forest trails that afternoon but it was still raining that I ended up exploring the The Manor with my travel mates. The Manor is a luxury hotel located inside Camp John Hay with its famed Le Chef restaurant that serves good food by renowned chef Billy King. Though I’m disappointed for the bad weather as it was still raining, the Panagbenga Festival flower float on display at Le Monet Hotel quite makes up for the disappointing weather where lots of Camp John Hay’s visitors are flocking for souvenir photos. Well, I was fascinated by the beautifully designed flower float used in the festival as it was really attractive. And we also took souvenir shots as well to have at least we feel the spirit of Panagbenga Festival. 

The weather in Baguio is so good that we extend our stay from a few more hours to almost a day instead of leaving after an overnight stay. That’s how enthralling is Baguio for a summer vacation! My last few hours in Baguio are spend on watching a DVD movie marathon of local movies that I enjoyed with my travel mates. It was just perfect for enough relaxation and rest as we will embark on a long road trip again after. And when I was at the bus and it started moving, I went on pondering thoughts on how my first summer trip of the year was – lovely cool weather, ultimate adventure and superb bonding with best buddies! I think I need go back here again after this trip. My summertime visit here made me endear to Baguio once again.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Anilao Postcards: Of Seascapes... Of Sunsets... 3

The seascape view in front of my eyes starts to transform when the sun's reflections touches everything into golden hue. And the shadows of the running bancas, mountains and islands of Tingloy and Sombrero complemented this gorgeous scene of the moment. The clouds were starting to clear the horizon. The sun turns bolder and bigger as it starts to set down. And it was the start of the most beautiful moment of the day in Anilao - the Anilao Sunset. 

Me and my travel mates on this Anilao day-off trip were still in the middle of chats and eating session when the sunset starts to show up. We were just tired from a whole noon of island hopping to nearby islands, coves and beaches of Anilao. We were tire but we enjoy the exploring the seascapes of Anilao.

The most beautiful moment of the day in Anilao...
The sunset just motivated me to practice my skills in capturing photos. One of my colleagues also starts to join and coach me in focusing the subject and using the lens since of my our workmates brought a SLR camera. Then the chats of my other travel mates did not just end. It was like a good opportunity to share stories, bond together and enjoy the beauty of Anilao in front of us.

I can't get enough of the beautiful scenery in front of my eyes! I think clicked numerous times on my camera just to get perfect shots of Anilao Sunset. I can count how many shots! But I was satisfied whatever photo I've captured since it the whole moment was stunning, breathtaking and marvelous.

Sunset unfolding in the beach front.
Anilao Sunset.
I still took shots of the view while having a good conversation with a few of my friends. The sky and sea is bath in golden yellow color. It was a gorgeous sunset and seascape scenery that I felt I become partially deaf for a moment to my colleagues share of stories and chats because of its magnificent beauty. I’m always drawn to sunsets and they are really best viewed by the sea.

Everything is reflected in golden sunshine.
After sunset... still admirable beauty of nature.
As the sun sets down and I also sat to watch it gone by. I reflect.  It was the most beautiful moment of the day in Anilao. Three words - stunning, breathtaking and marvelous. I'm truly astonished to this moment of the day by the beach! It was an unforgettable seascape and admirable beauty of nature. Anilao Sunset made my day-off trip in Mabini, Batangas truly memorable!

A few more reflections after the sunset ends... This is one day-off that I won’t forget! Not only I did have a quick vacation on my day-off to distress and relax and explore the beauty of Anilao but I got to spend this “best day-off” with my best buddies and friends at work. Day-offs should be like this - stress-free, spend on a wonderful place, good share of stories, endless fun and great people to share this day-off with – that what makes the best day-off ever!

The end.

Anilao Postcards: Of Seascapes... Of Sunsets... is a 3-part series recounting my trip to Anilao, Mabini, Batangas last November 2012 where I had a "best day-off ever" bonding with my workmate friends for having same day-offs from an operational schedule of work. See the story here.
Anilao Postcards is a share of my photo captures and story of the gorgeous Anilao seascapes and stunning Anilao sunset that truly captured my eyes for its unforgettable beauty. What made these postcards memorable are friends whom I shared this beautiful place with while on a trip.

Here are the other parts of the series: 
+ Anilao Postcards: Of Seascapes... Of Sunsets... 3
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