Archive for Travel

Love, the Island

Okay, so I’m not as incommunicado as I thought I’d be. The boyfriend thought it would be a good idea to bring a laptop, just in case. The resort now has wifi so I am able to blog while listening to tiny waves lapping against the shore. There is nothing to complain about.

My plans of getting certified for an advanced diving course fell through since Jamie developed an ear infection. I think King Triton sensed my insecurity about taking the course and put something in his ear. I was actually relieved when Jamie told me we couldn’t go through with it. So instead, the boyfriend and I went diving around the house reef, waiting for Mr. Turtle to come out.

I’ve made some new friends here. My favorite is Jacob. He is six years old and loves to hide medicine dispensers in the sand. Every now and then, he comes and asks me to take a look at his new tree-climbing trick and I happily oblige. I am completely smitten with this one. We’ve been going around the beach looking for hermit crabs and are obsessed with finding the largest one. His parents, who happen to be the boyfriend’s co-workers, are wonderful as well. We’ve been chatting about work as Dad used to be an MYP Tech teacher (the subject that I teach) and had a lot of interesting ideas to share. There is one other resort guest who is also a teacher and works with the boyfriend’s brother in Hong Kong! Talk about connections in such a remote place.

Mike, off to spear some crown of thorns.

The boyfriend is out diving and spearing crown of thorns with Nikki. I am eagerly awaiting dinner as it promises to be an excellent one. Spring rolls, seared marlin and chicken curry are on the menu. Last night’s dinner was equally incredible. Kinilaw was on the buffet, along with some pasta and kalamansi chicken. Nikki, who used to cater for the Glastonbury Festival, has developed a menu that is simple and sophisticated. Her exposure to music is also reflected through her eclectic playlist which she plays at night. Here at Kookoo’s nest, the nightly buffet is something to look forward to.

I am completely happy and content over here.

Two more days. Please slow down.

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Kookoo’s Nest

Last December, I was introduced to a place that would eventually become my favorite destination in the Philippines. Forget Boracay or Caramoan. Whenever I need to get away, this charming place in Dumaguete is what I dream of.

I fell hard for Kookoo’s Nest. From the moment I laid eyes on the quaint cottages and the secluded cove, I knew it was going to be a wonderful 4 days of chatting, eating, diving and sunbathing. I haven’t stopped thinking of that place and have been telling everyone about it.

The owners, Jamie and Nikki Ingram seem to be content about the fact that not that many people know about their little treasure. Although I’m sure they’d like to maintain their resort’s quiet atmosphere, they are most welcoming to everyone, from couples wanting to honeymoon or large families trying to escape a harsh winter.

In two days, I am off to my happy place with my blue-eyed boy, and I just can’t wait! It’s wonderful to be with someone who shares my love for the outdoors and who can enjoy wading in the water just as much as I do. It’ll be a terrific escape from the past months that have been utterly exhausting.

Meanwhile, I am left to daydream about the things I look forward to…

No sunset is ever the same at Kookoos

Kinliaw! I think the boyfriend is more excited for this than I am.

That was my favorite spot on the beach.

Excited for the food! Especially my favorite pumpkin curry soup!

Nikki, the resort owner, with Bellas babies. I cant wait to meet them!

As my students would say, two more sleeps. 

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Caramoan Adventure

Bicol, the home of the spicy laing and of course, Bicol express.  It was also my first destination for the year 2010 and I couldn’t wait.

My best friend and I agreed to go on a budget trip, which meant that we would veer away from travel packages and just wing it. I was honestly worried about how things would go considering that I thrive on plans and don’t really enjoy not knowing what to expect.

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Day 1:

A and I arrive at Naga and head on to CWC which would become our home base in Bicol.  Accomodations here are very affordable and the food is so-so but the ammenities are fantastic. A and I spent our afternoon at the water park where there was an inflatable obstacle course.  It was such good fun trying those gigantic water toys and I bet that we probably burned enough calories to be able to eat guilt-free for that night.

For P200, you can spend half the day here at CWC's water park. Now, that's god money spent!

For P200, you can spend the whole day here at CWC's water park.

After tiring ourselves our at the water park, we decided to get massages by the lake which cost us only P300.

Day 2:

Just recalling this day’s events is already making me tired…

This is where the fun starts. Taking from the receptionists instructions on how to get to Caramoan via public transportation, we head on to SM Naga and start our long journey.  The terminal for the commuter vans is across SM.  It’s very easy to find a van but it may take a while for it to fill up. We had to wait a good hour before we could leave.  This 1 1/2 ride to the Sabang Port cost us only P90.

At the Sabag Port, we had to transfer to a banka to get to the Guijalo Port. There’s a banka that leaves at 7am, every hour until 10am.  The last one leaves at around 1pm or until the banka is full.  It’s best to catch the earlier boats as the waiting can eat up a lot of your time.

This had to be the most eventful ride during that day. Other than being carried into the boat, I was also very worried about capsizing since the bankeros were overloading the boat. To make matters worse, there were no life vests available. I honestly thought that I would die that day. Thankfully, the boat never went out into the open sea and just went around the island.  But I have to warn you, this almost 2 hour boat ride is very uncomfortable. This banka ride costs P120.

Upon arriving the Guijalo Port at around 2PM, we take a very bumpy tricycle ride into the bayan. To ride a regualr tricycle will only cost you P20 but if you decide to get the “special” ride, you pay P150.

The bayan is very small and there’s only one main road which is called Centro.  We asked to be dropped off at any restaurant since we hadn’t eaten the whole day. Fortuitously, we were dropped off at the home-stay that was recommended by someone from our banka ride.  It turns out that this place has the best food in the bayan.

BED and DINE’s Chili Prawns (P190), Adobong Pusit (P120) which was the best i’ve ever had, and laing (P35).

BED and DINE’s food is unbelievably affordable and delicious.

Day 3:

Up at 5am, we took a 25 minute tricycle ride to the beach. Since tricycles only travel to the beach for special trips, you have no choice but to pay P150. Be prepared for a very bumpy ride.

At the beach, we met with our tour guide for the day and hopped on to our rented banka (P1,500 / whole day).

It started to be a gloomy day and the water looked very cold, but the Caramoan Islands still took my breath away.

Since we were to spend our day there, our tour guide asked us if we wanted food prepared and brought to the beach. Of course we said yes and ordered crabs, prawns, fish and laing!

Nothing beats eating by the sea.

The sun finally came out and stayed out long enough for us to get a tan.

After hours of tanning, our tour guide brought us to an island where we could drink buko for P10 each.

Day 4:

Considering the long journey unpredictable departure times, we decided to head back the next day.  There were still some waits in between rides but going back seemed a little bit faster.

We left Guijalo Port at around 930 a.m. and arrived in Naga at about 1:30 p.m. It was so good to be back in the city that we decided to spend some time in SM Naga and watch a movie. FYI, SM Naga is very nice and clean. We would have totally shopped if we weren’t on tipid mode.

Day 5 :

From CWC, we head back to Manila full and tan.

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I’m glad that I finally got to make the trip to Caramoan and am quite proud to have gone on my first “backpacker” trip.  Seeing a new place and experiencing new things was definitely a great way to start the year. I will definitely go back, but probabaly during he summer and on one of those expensive tour packages. 😛

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