Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bicol, My Hometown

It's been quite a while since I've been home to Bicol. I go there at least once a year (since birth!) for summer vacation and our family has a small resort there called "Villa Merced".

If there's one beach I'd go back to again and again - that's at Pasacao, Camangui, Camarines Sur, Bicol. Pasacao is a small fishing village and resorts have sprung up and progressed in the last few years. I've been going back every single year to spend time at our place, Villa Merced which was named after my late Mama Lola (grandmother). I've been to many, many beaches from North to South Philippines, Bali, California and others that I don't recall anymore.

But, I will always go back to Bicol. It's my home and it's where I find peace.

Mind you, our resort have not really changed much since I was a kid. We like to keep it that way. The rustic, provincial look I mean. We have nipa huts and the traditional poso for bathing. We do not allow many people to come in as well and keep our prices a tad bit higher than our neighbors.

I hope to go back soon and do a photo shoot there.

How to Get There

By Bus - take Philtranco or Penafrancia. Check out their numbers here. Then get off at the Naga station and take a FX or jeep to Pasacao. Then get on a padyak to Villa Merced. Believe me, the padyak is the most exciting ride ever.

If you are a bit adventurous you can also get off at the Pamplona intersection and then take a jeep to Pasacao. Your stop would be at the village market, hop on a padyak and tell the driver to bring you to Villa Merced.

By Plane - Philippine Airlines has daily flights to Legaspi. Ask around how you can go to Naga through a van or FX. Get off at the Naga terminal and then take a FX or jeep to Pasacao. Get off at the last stop which is at the market and then get on a padyak. It's an exhilirating ride.


Bus - to and fro approx. PhP900
FX to Pasacao - approx. PhP30
Plane - shimmy over to PAL or Cebu Pacific and find out

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Night in La Union

I was a bit disappointed with La Union, perhaps the resort we checked into wasn’t one of the popular ones. We were supposed to go to the Seaside Beach Resort in San Fernando La Union, but ended up at Cabana Resort near Bauang, La Union because the bus conductor forgot to let us off at our stop. Grrrrr!!!

Anyway, we had a bit of fun at the resort, chatting the night away at their pool and cozy room where we recorded Bobcast #8, the pink Bobcast, where the Bob Girls overpowered The Abe. Listen to Bobcast #8 “Sleepless in La Union” for interesting insights on our Friendster status’, ligawan, and Abe’s hypothetical question.

The photos I took weren't really great because it was raining, so I ain't posting any . I guess I should go back with Anne so I can really see the beauty of La Union.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Swinging By Singapore

I've been to Singapore several times because of my Kuya and I've never really gone there for a vacation. In the occasions I've had time to go explore the city on my own (my brother made a wrong booking and left me on my own), I just basically rode the MRT and walked and walked and walked.

A friend of mine who's going to spend a night in Singapore asked for suggestions on what to do. He's a bit techie and interested to buy a gadget and loves photography.

This is what I suggest he does (he arrives by morning):

1. Visit the Singapore Zoo. There's a bus you can take to get there. Just get a brochure at the airport and you'll find your way. Oh and it's better to visit during the day. Better lighting for your pictures.

2. I hope he checks in at the Excelsior so that it'd be easy for him to walk to Funan IT Mall after his day at the zoo, the newer one compared to SimLim (SimLim looks a whole lot like going to the Greenhills IT area).

3. Dinner and drinks at the Boat Quay area. Lots of good food there, especially that quaint little Italian restaurant I had lunch in last February with Google colleagues. Just take the MRT to get there.

Or you can head over to Chimes which is around the corner of Raffles Plaza Hotel (I loved staying there!) and in front of Carlton Hotel. Across the Chimes is a Roman Catholic church (forgot the name), it's where I usually hear mass in Singapore. If you go to Chimes, you can also head over to Bugis Junction after dinner. It's a short walk where you'll also see the National Library and Manila Street. There are a lot of inexpensive souvenir t-shirts at Bugis and you can also try out mee-goreng (noodles) at the small hawkers center.

4. For souvenirs he can probably head off to Chinatown or Orchard Road the next day. I heard you already have a Merlion, so go get something made of jade or gold (you can also get me a cheongsam while you're shopping haha). If you're going to Orchard Road don't forget to visit Lucky Plaza where all the Pinoys are and my favorite bookstore, Kinokuniya.

5. And then visit Little India. There are a lot of interesting structures you can take photos of. And if you still have time, shimmy over to the Merlion.

It's very easy to go around Singapore and VERY SAFE. It's also better to change your currency at the airport, less hassle to look for one while going around.

Don't forget my pasalubong!

Click on the photo to see more of the Lakwatsera in Singapore.
Read more about my latest Singapore adventure here.


Travel Tips:

Where I've Stayed

Raffles Plaza Hotel (the best!)
Carlton Hotel (good)
Golden Landmark Hotel (not going back there, the place is haunted!)
hotels in Little India (uhh, I really don't suggest you stay there)

On taking a Cab - tip, call the driver "uncle". It's the equivalent of "manong" or "kuya". I've never had problems taking the cab coz the drivers usually mistake me to be Singaporean and a student.

Shopping Places - Chinatown - lots of jade and beads! and inexpensive stuff which they re-sell locally at exorbitant prices, lots of interesting stuff in Little India, when in Orchard don't forget Kinokuniya (books), Lucky Plaza (for souvenirs), Tang's (clothing), there's a Ben & Jerry's shop at the Raffles Plaza Mall

Transportation - MRT!

And, dress up a bit, that's how they are there.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Passing Through Vigan

Ahhh Vigan, the quaint city in the north that’s known for its cobblestone street and longganisa.

I didn’t realized that Vigan would be quite a huge place. I thought the whole place had cobblestone streets. The famous street (see photo below) was a strip of old structures just a stone’s throw away from the town plaza and the well-known Café Leona. We just stayed in Vigan for a couple of hours, taking photos and eating ice cream at McDo (whose structure looked the same as its branch in Intramuros).

We walked around for a while and saw the following:

Vigan Church

Famous cobblestone street

Café Leona

And, of course, we ate the famous Vigan Longganisa at Cafe Leona

How much it costs to get there

Bus – PhP100+ from Laoag which is almost 2 hours away (call Partas Bus Lines at +632-7257303/1740 or 4101307 or 0918-4727827 for the schedules)

An Overnight at Laoag

Last weekend I managed to see Laoag very briefly. Laoag is located in North Luzon and is approximately 12 hours away from Manila by bus.

I didn't get to go around Laoag. We were fortunate enough to stay at Fort Ilocandia, but only got to see the beach in the dark (find out what I saw in the dark in my ghost blog). The Laoag International Airport was indeed very interesting. It had brick walls, same as the airport structure of the airport in Bali.

We were in a bus most of the time and I basically just saw nice old churches, the town plaza and plantations. I'd want to go back there someday though and enjoy the beach!

How much it costs to get there

Bus – PhP700+ one way from Manila, take Partas Bus Lines (call them at +632-7257303/1740 or 4101307 or 0918-4727827)
Fort Ilocandia – minimum PhP5,300+ per night
Meals – minimum PhP200

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lakwatsera's Next Lakwatsa

By midnight the Lakwatsera is about to embark on a new adventure.

Tara na!

tara na! - let's go!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bohol Top 5

1. Chocolate Hills

There are actually more than a thousand of these 30 to 50 meter hills. The mounds look like chocolates because it is made of limestone and trees don't grow on them.

2. Panglao Island beach

Panglao Island is located southwest of Tagbilaran City has one of the most beautiful beachfronts in the Philippines. I think I'd go back to Bohol more often than Boracay.

3. Baclayon Church

Baclayon Church is one of the best preserved churches ran by Jesuits and is the oldest coral stone church in the region.

4. Blood Compact

The blood compact was made between Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna.

5. Tarsiers

The Philippine tarsier is known to be one of the world's smallest primates. It is indigenous to the Island of Bohol. The guide said that they're supposed to be asleep during the day, but I guess they had to be up to entertain the tourists.

There's also the famous river floating restaurant, but I was quite disappointed in how things went when we went on it. Food wasn't that great, but the Loboc Children's Choir was quite entertaining. Watch their video below:

Other stuff to see: Hinagdanan Cave, Shell Museum, Man-Made Forest
Accommodations: Mellow Apartelle, Dumaluan Beach Resort

Cost of Going to Bohol

Tour - PhP5,500
(includes 3-overnight accommodations, breakfast, river floating resto lunch, transportation and transfers)

Airfare & Terminal Fee - PhP4,300 + PhP400

Pocket Money - PhP2,500
PhP500/day for food
PhP500 for pasalubong

Safe budget - PhP13,000/person for a group of 8

- We went to Cebu and took the Supercat to Bohol because it's cheaper rather than flying out directly to Tagbilaran.
- The cheapest pasalubong stuff are at the Hinagdanan Cave.

For complete trip recount please visit "An Apple a Day".