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Monday, May 16, 2016

10 Things You May Not Expect About Pahiyas Festival, Lucban

We know that travel going to Lucban if you're from Manila would take 4 hours.  Faster if you take the backroute and if you're going there through a private car in an earlier time like 5am or what not.  During my trip there, there were some things that I wasn't expecting because for one I haven't read about it in the blogs whilst doing my research.  So I made this list for you so you wouldn't be as surprised as I was.

1.  Bubbles blown in the street.  I think because it adds to the festive ambiance so bubbles are blown by sellers .  So when you're doing your stroll expect to see them in the air... somehwere.

2.  When there are tourists, there are vendors.  Almost everywhere selling almost anything.  From refreshments, hats, floral head wreath, pancit habhab, souvenir shirts, longganisa, etc.

3.  They have a thing with stuff human like mascott.  I don't know why.  I haven't asked a local about it.  Maybe you can ask them when you decide to go there one of these days.

4. The path is long and winding.  Now I knew it's going to be a long trip.  I had already accepted that fact, but no one really informed me about it being winding.  For people out there who easily get car sick, prepare your plastic, candies, and white flower/vicks.

5.  Not all houses are decorated.  You would see houses decorated in one street, and when you cross the street to see more, you'll see regular looking houses, but try to walk a bit more and you'll see another street decorated with buntings and all. When I was there, there were only 2 streets which looked festive.

6.  Expect to walk a lot.  There's a point near the outskirts of the town where no tricycles and cars can enter so you wouldn't have a choice but to walk.

7.  Bring umbrella.  I had a feeling that I had to bring umbrella, but I was concern that I'll be hitting people by it when the crowd gets packed.   So I left mine behind.

8.  It's not really that crowded.  Upon entering you'll be intimidated by the line ups of private cars parked along side the street.  By then you'll be thinking that the place would already be so crowded.  Fortunately it wasn't really that crowded that's because I arrived there after the procession.  So if you arrive at 10am there would still be traffic but not so many people as expected.

9.  Police visibility.  I was surprised to see a number of policemen in some corners of the street.  It was understandable because it was a big event of  the time so safety and security are important.  I think I was just not expecting to see them.

10.  No portalets.  So make sure to dine it in a place where there's a toilet.

So there you go.

Good luck with your trip! :)

Publisher: Shy - Monday, May 16, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

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My Solo Trip to Pahiyas Festival, Lucban

For years now I've been wanting to go to Lucban to see the Pahiyas festival ever since it was featured in a travel show way back when I was still a kid.  I was supposed to go there last year however I got sick, and so I had to push through with it this year.

After doing a bit of research I knew, that I should take the backdoor route which is Manila-Pagsanjan, Sta. Cruz-Lucban than the usual Manila-Lucena-Lucban.  Well an blogpost of some blogger he said that it only took him around 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there, but for me it took me 4 hours.  Now here's the deal, his bus took off at 5am, mine took off at 6am.  And maybe due to traffic and all I got to the place at almost 10am.  You can see here the importance of getting to the bus terminal earlier.

Before even this trip, I've already resolved to do 2 things.  Doing more than that would be a bonus.  First, is just stroll around and seeing houses studded with decors.  Second, eat pancit habhab.  After doing those 2, my trip would be an overall success, which it was.

Going there was just as painful as my last trip to Nagsasa Cove.  Travel time is too long.  So when I reach the place, I had to make the most of it. Seeing too many cons than pros would just make me a fool, so see the pros I did.  It was a challenge because of the festering heat of the sun, the traffic, the pollution.  But when you get there, it's as if a chip has been taken off my shoulder.  

Just look at these pictures.

This trip isn't hard on the wallet.  Overall I spent around P500, however it is time consuming.  Will I recommend this to someone?  Well honestly, yes if they just want to fulfill their curiosity and see something unique about our country.
Publisher: Shy - Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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Sh*t People Say or do to Solo Female Travelers

1.  "Oh So why are you alone?" and then give you the pity face.

2. Don't you have a boyfriend or a friend to go with you?

3.  Oh so you have traveled for more than a week now.  What do you do? Do you even have a job?

4.  Okay a table.  For 1 person, right?

5. Eating alone at Mcdonalds.  People stare at you like.

6. You're sitting or standing alone at a foreign country and people be like...

Publisher: Shy - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

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15 Things You Need to Know Before Doing Your Nagsasa Cove Adventure


So you have probably browsed DIY's and have a rough estimation on how much you'll be spending and what you'll be doing in Nagsasa Cove, but on this post, I'll tell you things that people haven't touch up on.

1. Battery operated fan.  Make a portable AC because when things get hot there, it will get really hot.  Staying inside the tent is as good as being in an oven.  If being a slab of sweaty meat is something you don't like try this.  This can make wonders.  I've thought about doing this but for some reason didn't materialize it.

2. Go in groups is better than going there as couples.  The beauty with being in a group is that some people could look after your stuff while you\re away, and you could return the favor when they leave and you're around.  Although stealing isn't really rampant there, it's still a possibility so better be safe than sorry.

3.  The sand is dangerous.  When temperature hits a certain point and it stays that way for hours, expect the sand to be burning hot.  Minutes barefoot could potentially damage your skin.  I had my toes touched when I was on my way to the boat, and it was just seconds but mahn did it felt like it was burned.

4.  Tents are used for many other things than sleeping.   Most of the time you couldn't sleep in there anyways.  It's hot and humid during the day.  It gets a bit better at night but still not convenient.

5.  Bring flashlight that could stand.  There are times that you might want to do something and you have a flashlight on hand.  It gets a bit trickier to move.  Whereas if you have a standing flashlight you just position it at one corner and you are now free to do what you need to do.

6.  No need for off lotion.  I've read on several sites suggesting to bring mosquito repellant but I haven't felt a need to rub on one when I was there.

7. When it's summer season, expect tents to be pitched close together.  As close as 1 inch apart.  If you want to have fewer company, you may want to schedule your trip off season, like from July onwards.  But be wary of the monsoon season too.

8. The boat ride could get rough.  Big waves could constantly hit your boat.  Expect getting splashed on randomly.  If you don't like the ride then you better think about heading to Nagsasa Cove because it would take more than hour to get there.

9.  Waterproof your gadgets.  The boat ride like I said could get pretty rough so cover your camera in a waterproof bag or container.  Make sure you seal it tight or else you know what will happen.

10.  Campsite culture.   People camping are more or less between the ages 15 to 35 years old, and so there's some kind of culture that's going on.  There's something that unifies everyone in there.  There's a friendly environment that is present.  It's like one big barkada who just don't talk to each other.

11. The toilet.  There's 6 shared toilets for the entire campsite and it could get really queuing especially when packing time is near which is around 10 to 11am.  So to avoid it make sure to bathe early morning and shower afterwards before everybody starts to pile up on the line, especially the ones with the toilet.

12. The store there opens at 5am.  So if you're like my partner who doesn't want to bring a lot and who prefers paying extra cash, then go ahead splurge.

13. Grilling and bonfires.  Camping could not be totally complete without these two.  I mean, those are essential camping activities that you would not want to miss out.  If I were to choose, I'd rather put more effort to do those things than not.  It's not everyday that you get to enjoy those.  Some beaches don't allow bonfires so it's better to just take the opportunity.  Go ahead and make one.

14.  DIYS are always cheaper.  There's a misconception about tours and deals.  It doesn't always save you money.  If you want to have control over your spendings better go for DIYS, but if you don't want to be bothered by logistics and all, then go for the packaged tours.  It really sucks because I thought I have saved my self some money by availing of Metrodeals tour package.  When I did a bit of research, internet showed me some trips that cost cheaper than what I had paid for.

15.  Always say YES to adventure.  I wouldn't have better stories to tell had I not say Yes to activities that at first sounded hard work and silly.  Just go and you'll be glad you did.  However, always take precaution.

Publisher: Shy - Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

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My Nagsasa Cove Adventure

Once you have a taste of El Nido it's difficult to appreciate just any beaches.  And my view still stands today.   After 2 years of being in a beach hiatus, I have came to push through with one beach camping adventure that would cap my Summer.

Yes I finally did it.

Over the weekends, I went camping in Nagsasa Cove after having purchased vouchers from Metrodeal which involved island hopping tour, and 2 meals.  We added P800 more for van transfer since we didn't want to be bothered looking for a public transport to commute to and fro.  

The Journey

The journey going there was treacherous.  Even with a 3am call time at SM North, we reached Pundaquit Municipality at around 8am.  This is after a couple of stops along the way.  This is the place where we could buy the things we needed to buy and withdraw money because we would be heading to the island, which doesn't have electricity and the food sold there are 2x or 3x over the normal price.  There we paid 100 for the Entrance fee.  Before the boat transfer, the staff from the agency started collecting the vouchers which I missed out on printing because I was too focused on printing the waiver which was also indicated as a requirement.  They asked for the paper which I didn't have and didn't bother for the one which I do have.  Long story short, with my partner's strong persuasion skills aka pagtataray, we were able to go ahead of the group.

Capones Islands and Its Frills

That was not a way to start this trip and I was already crossing my fingers that it will all be fun in the end.  But that hope was fading as we had to ride through big waves for an hour or so.  First stop was the Capones Island which you'll recognize by the light house seated at the top of its hill. Going up to the lighthouse was some sort of Survival challenge, since the boat was anchored 15-20 meters away from the shore and the only way to get to the island was for me to hold on to the rope tied at the edge of the boat.  The rope is all taut and stretched out and ends as it is tied tightly around a steady rock at the shore. I had to float and swim and grab the rope and pull my way forward up to the shore even when the water was just knee deep because I didn't want to step on a grassland of brown algae.  The texture was so icky.  We only knew about it when we were in the water.  The boatman said it was in season.  Well it was really obvious because that thing was everywhere.   But nevertheless it made the experience a lot more interesting; not to mention the slippery big rocks at the bottom which makes standing up impossible, and the stubborn waves that were incessantly pushing us, knocking us down even more.  It was a challenge, yet we were all laughing that we were tortured that way, which was weird.

The Hike

Once reaching the shore we have to start the hike.  It was really hot at this time as it was already 11am.  There were birds hovering above the island, like vultures waiting to devour carcasses of people who couldn't survive.  Humidity was nada, the sun was blazing heat waves by now, the sand was roasting and there I was at the middle of it all thinking whether the lighthouse was worth to see.  The trek was a chore.  It would take you 10 minutes at least to get to the light house filled with all sorts of rubbish inside: plastics, wood, leaves, dirt, practically everything that you could see in a place that is left behind to rot.  What greeted  me as I entered the gates of the lighthouse was a familiar sound of a bell ringing.   Ice cream?  In the middle of the island, in this abandoned lighthouse there's a diligent ice pop vendor.  Well what do you know... For people who are hungry for something cold down their throat, it would be a God-sent.  But the sight of the light house and the effort that I put in coming to see it, didn't set the appetite for an ice pop.  In attempt to at least squeeze out some history out of the place to make my trek seem worth it,  I asked the ice pop vendor if he knew anything about the place and who built it, and when it was constructed.  From that inquiry, I got  that it was an old place during the Spanish era.  And feeling satisfied that I got a touch of history,  I excused myself from the group of friends who got their ahead of me and were eating ice pop.  Surprisingly, my partner followed me halfway down the trek and went with me on my way back. 

Anawangin Insight

So the whole Capones thing was fun.  Yey, next stop was Anawangin which was an hour ride.  It's more crowded and smaller than Nagsasa, but many people go there because it's closer.  We went there and got us halo halo sold for P35.  While eating my halo halo under the shade of the store, I had a chance to do some people watching and noticed  that women, young and old, have a dress code which I didn't know of.  It's a long sleeve spandex top and a pair of swimming shorts.  That was what the majority of the women who went with me were wearing, and the same goes for the women in Anawangin.  I thought people are a bit liberated this days.  I was expecting bikinis since it was a beach event, but I haven't seen any woman wearing two-piece other than a 12 year old girl, who wore a 2 piece black bikini with a black see through overall.   At this point I was feeling a bit left out.  Which part of the internet did they say anything about this.  Anyways, finally we were heading to Nagsasa after that.  Everyone in the boat was feeling cranky because it was already 1pm, it was hot, we had only few hours of sleep and we have not eaten yet, and did I say it was hot?  

Finally! Nagsasa Cove!

So by the time we got to the Cove, we were all eager to eat and settle down.  It took us awhile to do so because we have to wait for the staff to accommodate us, we have to wait for the food that was included in the voucher, we have to wait for our tents.  

Our lunch was finally served and our tents were finally pitched, we have settled in, but the sun was still ablaze that lying inside the tent would be lying in a sauna minus the moisture.  With not so much sleep, some of us just ignored it and tried to pitch their tent under a shade, but some like me, couldn't.  It was just unbearable, so me and my partner waited for the sun to go down and went for a dip to release the heat.  The beach was great.  It was all sand no big corals at the bottom so it's ok to swim barefooted.  The location of the cove was beautiful.  It was smacked at the middle of a C-shape island bordered by grassy towering hills.  And shading the campsites were tall pines trees that gave it character and novelty.  All these seemed to make the journey worth it, and at that point I was satisfied.  Thinking that it would be my first and last time in this place, I anchored myself to be fully in the moment as I was trying to float my whole body parallel to the sea, steadying myself whenever the waves were rocking me forward and backward.  Ahhh this is the life.

At Night

Nagsasa Cove at night offers a different scene.  People are noisier, bonfires were out.  And as the night grew deeper, people moved closer to the beach, sleeping on mats, because the tents were not, once again made for nice sleeping.  It was still humid.  If there were any wind that pass by it would just circle around us at the top and only some would pass through us on the ground.  All we could hear are  whooshing of the the wind passing, which was annoying.  It feels like there's a cake but you couldn't eat it.  Unable to sleep inside, I went out to spread my mat near the beach which some people already have done.   The stars were awesome like they always are but suddenly firecrackers blew up in the sky right above us.  I rattled to cover my face afraid that some smidgens of fire would fall on me.  Thankfully they did it right the second time, firing it to blow directly above the sea.  So much for surprises.  The night was long thanks to a group of cold-hearted youngsters who didn't mind shouting even when they knew people were sleeping. 

The Weird Sound 

Anyways, somehow when everyone was asleep, only the whooshing of the wind could be heard.  It sounded like there was a space ship hovering above us, or that it was raining but you wouldn't see or feel raindrops falling.  And when I got up to check what exactly it was,  there was nothing but sound and an eerie feel that enveloped the camp.  I went in and tried to sleep again. 

Morning Madness

Morning came, and we went for some quick dip, and trekked one hill after.   The path was narrow and cliff was threatening.  One wrong move and you're a goner.   The view from up there though was spectacular.  It reminded me that it was really worth going here and that it was indeed a special place.  We ate breakfast as soon as we got back.  The store opens at 5am so don't worry about getting your coffee fix.  They sell hot water for P5, coffee with hot water and cup for P20, and coffee with hot water for P7, if am not mistaken. Sodas were sold for P25 plus which normally are sold for P7 to P12 in the city.  Halo halo are also sold but they cost only P40. 

I showered, after that to avoid queue that was going to be expected come 10am or 11am.  For some reason, our boat arrived 2pm.  The only time I had a good sleep was inside the van.  And I finally reached home at around 10:30pm.   

Long journey it was, I was burnt but still glad to have done it anyway.

Publisher: Shy - Thursday, April 21, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

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Costa Marina Beach: It Was As If The Sea Was Playing Tricks On Us!

We arrived there at 10am.  We were excited to take a dip because the beach at Costa Marina was looking so promising and enticing.  By the time we settled down, the sea was gone.  It shied away from us.  You have to walk what seemed to be hundred meters away from the shore to get your knees wet.  You have to sit down or lie down to get your whole body wet.

The whole time we were at the beach, we were waiting for high tide to come back again.

We waited

and waited

and waited

and waited

and waited

and waited.

Then the clock hit 4pm-- the arrival time of the last boat to take us back to the city.  Time to pack up.  As we were leaving the whole sea came rushing in.  Back to its glory, its depth, its clarity, its wholeness.

He.he.he.  Funny.
Publisher: Shy - Friday, March 25, 2016

Tea Party with Friends: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

When I said I'll set up a tea party, I meant it.  

My friends from Davao were going to celebrate their birthdays together and invited me over to attend.  I was in Manila that time so I can't possibly heed to the request.  Although I could, but since due to timing and all, I couldn't pull it through.  So to make it up to them, and to have my tea party dream come true.  I've put the 2 together and viola, I hit 2 birds at one time.

The good things are ethereal theme I had going; the silk, and pink satins, the pink rose, the petals of roses trailing towards the set up, the cookies, cakes and biscuits, all propped tastefully on top of a high table with a golden frame with my hand written definition of a goddess:

The bad are there's nothing really bad about it. Well perhaps the whole situation was not at par from my expectations but that's really how life is right?  I was planning more ethereal, but that was only what I could come up with, but hey at least I tried.

The ugly part is well the stories.  Our party started 5pm and ended at 9.  What was planned to be an ethereal goddess party, was meant to empower them to see the goddess that they are.  But I guess I didn't execute it that well.  Serving tea, sweets and posting goddess definition wouldn't really make them feel empowered yeah?  But it was a great setting for them to open up.  It was a therapy, a release.  Something that they needed.  Something that we all need.  And I was glad that we were all there as a group of sisterhood, supporting each other in times of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Publisher: Shy - Friday, March 25, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

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10 Ways to Enjoy Boracay for Free

When you're doing Boracay alone, sometimes you find ways to enjoy it for free.  Most rides you need to be in a group which I obviously wasn't but Boracay offers plenty for solo travelers like you if you just take time to discover it for yourself.

1.  Sun bathing.  Best time to do it in the morning, or late in the afternoon because the sun would be very much unforgiving from 10 am to 2pm.  Do it under a classy reclined beach chair with umbrella.  Those ones you can use for free if you are checked in in classy hotels.  I tried using one for a few minutes and was loving it, however a hotel staff started to ask me what my room number was.  Oops! Off I went away doing my walk of shame.

2.  Walking along the shore.  I recommend doing this sunset from station 3 to 1.  You'll see the transition of the sand from white sand to white sand with algae, the transition of the horizon with the sun just a beaming orange to just sky swirling in orange, and violet hues, you'll feel the cooling of your toes as the temperature goes down, and everything around you darkens as the sun gives way to the moon.

3. Exploring less touristy beach.  If you just want to have a spiritual moment with you, the wind, the sky, the waves and the sand, go to those beaches not littered by people.  One of which is Tambisaan Beach where I had a random conversation with a buko seller. Of what I thought to be a random buyer-seller conversation, turned into somewhat inspiring.  Check out the story here.

4. Practice your photography skills.  There's a lot of possible pics you can take from Boracay other than selfies with your friends,  you with your skimpy bikini or trunk shorts featuring your hard-earned beach body, you and drinks, you getting wasted, you partying, you and this new guy, or new chick.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  However, there are a lot out there that's also picture-worthy other than yourself.  Like the sunset, the people, the other side of Boracay other than the parties and drinks.  You'll appreciate it even more that way.  I believe.

5.  Get into a rave party.  If that's your thing, I'm sure you will have fun.  If it's not, I'm sure you'll find it interesting, like I did (check here for more of my story).  You may leave anytime you want at least you've experienced something interesting.  Interesting and free goes a long way sometimes.

6.  Talk to locals.  I have never really stressed this enough.  Other than enjoying the sunset, talking with locals or with a new acquaintance would have to be top of my favorites.  There's something special when 2 strangers commune and became less of a stranger because both have now something in common which is having the opportunity to experience nature at the same moment and time.  It makes the whole experience amplified, and validated.

7.  Enjoying the sun rise and the sunset.  Boracay is best known for the sunset for obvious reasons, however let's not forget also the sunrise.  Both events bring in different crowd.  The former brings in the booze, the reggae music, the groupies or lovers who are planning to enjoy the night away early,  while the latter brings in the health freaks jogging to and from the beach, the families who are bringing their kids for an early bath time, and the wanderers and curious bunch like me who are just eager to see what it's like to see the sunrise and what it has to offer.

8.  Exploring Boracay stations and understand varying demographics.  For the knowledge of many, there's a distinction between stations: 3 being the less posh and 1 as the most expensive among the others.  There's also this area, before station 3, which I call station 4, where you could find foreign backpackers who are budget freaks, enjoying boracay minus all the poshiness of it.  They seem very well satisfied with their backs on the sand, hammock, or Indian scarves bought in their previous destinations or having friendly discussion with new acquaintance over beer or coffee.   Reaching station 3 you'll see a flock of korean tourists prepping for their turn on scuba diving or boat riding, station 2 you'll see more and more bars, at station 1 you'll see more and more 5 star beach resorts.

9. People watching.  When you're in a paradise like Boracay, a place known for its luscious sunset, luscious what-happensin-bora-stays-in-bora stories, and luscious drinks, you'll come to see different people thirsting for some fun, redemption, or recreation.  I heard that it's a place for the broken-hearted seeking vegeance in many wrong forms such as one-night stands, drinking binge, party binge and the what nots; for the opportunistic maniacs who are in search for the latter crowd and that chance to get lucky for a night or two; for the lovers seeking for a honeymoon paradise; for the beach lovers and attention seekers, seeking most wanted attention after having toned up their body for months in the gym; for the corporate slaves who are just looking for a recluse and much needed R and R with a cold beer at hand, great sunset, and just being with nature after having a few tough weeks in the job. It's a place for everyone, and with varying people diverge, it's a feast for the eyes.

10.  Enjoying Boracay's sunset.  This never gets old and I think this would have to be the most overrated feature of Boracay.  It is overrated for the right reasons.  Reasons that you should experience and understand yourself.  This one really never fails to impress.  I turn into a trigger happy photographer wannabe every sunset, much like anybody there.  I think.  Click here for my pics.

Publisher: Shy - Wednesday, March 09, 2016
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