Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Davao (Part 2)

On to the second day of our Davao adventure!

The itinerary I made for the day was to focus all activities on the city tour. Wake up time should be 7am, but unfortunately we were just too lazy and too tired to go out. In the end, we left the dormitel at around noon time. All the activities I've planned for TOTALLY changed haha. Just a tip to all planners out there -- this might disappoint you -- but not all things go as planned. It really depends on everyone's moods so better have a back up plan or just be plain spontaneous. Don't go dwelling on the disappointment because you won't enjoy. =)

Anyway, here's how our day went. No more Eden Park or Philippine Eagle Sanctuary. Hello, Malls. LOL!

11:00 AM - Left the dormitel. Since the sun was in its peak, we decided to cancel the trips to the far places. We needed to grab lunch, and the best place to find that is --- yep, at the mall. When we got to the cab driver, we asked Manong what the newest, most celebrated mall. And brought us to Abreeza, an Ayala-owned mall newly opened with ambiance similar to Greenbelt and Trinoma. We looked for a restaurant that we didn't see in Manila, and so we had lunch at Mooon Cafe. I remember having dinner in Cebu, also at Mooon Cafe. I wonder why they don't have a branch in Manila.

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Hindi sila kuripot sa cheese. =D

1:00 PM - After malling, we continued our "city tour." I really wanted to go ziplining, but it was still to early so we decided to just visit the nearest tourist spot. Thus, we arrived at The Gap Farm. I searched the internet for this and I've seen positive reviews. Unfortunately, it just didn't serve our interests.

Don't get me wrong. The place is lovely, green, and very educational. But it's not for a group of adults who want to explore fun, adventurous stuff. Well anyway since we were already there, what the heck. We just went on with the tour. (When we talked to our Davaoeno friends about visiting Gap Farm, they just laughed at us, saying that the only time they were there was probably during their 2nd Grade field trip. LOL.)

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The famous Land of Promise

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That Carabao is forever urinating!!!

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The gang at the Land of Promise

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The Cyclops under the "Japanese Shelter House / Cave"

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My first time seeing a kasoy fruit

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Conference of Filipino folklore

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Conference of Heroes and Presidents. I learned that Davao was once the place where everyone held meetings / conferences. That's what Gap Farm was trying to tell us.

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OMG his "you-know-what" thing is too distracting!!

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Better pray!!

Anyway, after the Gap Farm tour comes the most exciting part of our trip. Zipline!! Woohoo! Next to White Water Rafting, Zipline is probably the next most adventurous experience in Davao City. Of course we had to try it.

2:30 PM - Zipline. There were two courses: one very steep, very tall fall -- you have to cross a cliff; and one accelerating very fast. It was definitely worth it!! It was drizzling that time, and it was very scary but things went well and I had one heck of an experience. Luckily, the rain just started to pour heavily right after we finished the course. The Gods truly love us. =)

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This is the view from the cliff -- where the zipline all starts

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That's the cliff where we started the zipline adventure. See how tall it is?

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This is the second part of the zipline -- faster speed!

7:00 PM - Our friend (the guy who got married yesterday) treated us to dinner. We were supposed to go to Jack's Ridge, but the rain was really heavy and he said that the place isn't too good when it rains. So we settled for the next best thing -- Lyndon's Worst Ribs and Awful chicken. Crazy name, but it's actually opposite of what their food tastes like. Buurrp. Too bad I wasn't able to take photos of the actual ribs, I was too hungry to think of taking pictures. =P

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We finished the night having a one-hour massage at a nearby spa. What a day! Tomorrow it's Samal Island. Wait for my next post!

Here are the day's expenses:

Php 150.00 - Lunch
Php 30.00 - Gap Farm Entrance
Php 10.00 - Gap Farm "Cave" Entrance
Php 500.00 - Zipline adventure
Php 300.00 - Massage
Php 300.00 - Taxi
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Total: 1290.00
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Davao (Part 1)

They say it's the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. Well, they're right. The moment I stepped foot on Davao, I immediately noticed how clean the streets are compared to Metro Manila. They have proper places for garbage, and people just don't spit around. I guess it's because of the city ordinances implemented by their city officials. I'm not sure if the Davao Death Squad (led by their Mayor) rumors are true, but I'm pretty sure their politicians are doing something to make the city better.

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Welcome to Davao!

We spent 5 days in Davao to attend a friend's wedding. We arrived on June 8 and left on the 12th via Cebu Pacific. I had already planned an itinerary for us to follow so that we'll know where we're going and we'll be able to maximize our stay there. Here's the itinerary I've prepared:

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Please click the image for full view.

I've prepared cases where we might want to spend maximum, or spend with the lowest possible cost. I assumed that our cost for accommodation for Day 1 is Php 0.00 because our friend said that he'll be covering that expense. But when we got there, we were too shy to ask him so we shouldered the cost instead.

The planned itinerary actually just didn't go as planned LOL. Let me share with you my experience during my 5-day vacation.

Day 1: Arrival and Friend's Wedding

10:00 AM - Just Landed! Hello Davao!
11:00 AM - Checked In at the Dormitel
12:00 NN - Lunch Time (also at the Dormitel)
2:30 PM - Went to Church for our friend's wedding
6:00 PM - Reception
9:00 PM - Chillax Night

Basically we didn't do anything for sight-seeing today. The main focus of our day was on our friend's wedding day. We saved up the tours and the adventures for the coming days. We did, however, tried their local version of Starbucks, and we went out for videoke that night. At first we wanted to try the local bars just beside the videoke place and see how Davao parties, but we kind of figured that we're too old for that haha. And we were wearing a bit formal clothes, so we just wouldn't fit in.

Anyway, we did have a couple of beers, but we went home early because we figured that we'll be up and running early the next day. But we were wrong haha. I'll share that with you next time, but for now, here's a summary of our expenses:

Php 100.00 - Taxi to NAIA 3
Php 200.00 - NAIA 3 Terminal Fee
Php 50.00 - Taxi to Dormitel (There were 4 of us, we shared taxi costs)
Php 450.00 - Accommodation at Green Windows Dormitel (Php 1,800 for Double Twin)
Php 70.00 - Lunch
Php 50.00 - Taxi to Church
Php 50.00 - Taxi to Reception
Php 100.00 - COffee at Green Coffee
Php 300.00 - Videoke and beer and pika-pika
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Total: 1570.00

A bit expensive for a first day without any activities, huh? Check out my next posts on our activity development!

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The giant durian just outside the airport. Davao is famous for its durian products -- candies, preserves, etc.

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Our lunch at the Dormitel. Nothing special, Php 55.00 for one rice and one viand. Not bad.

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The dormitel was just awesome. Styling, technology-friendly, and NEW.

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Even the bathroom is very nice.

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Green Coffee: Davao's version of Starbucks. Their bathroom is just spectacular!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Destination: Camiguin (Part 2)

Woohoo, here comes the juicy part of the Camiguin trip! I mentioned in my previous post that it took us half a day to travel from Cagayan de Oro to Camiguin, but I swear, it was worth it. We spent the whole day of Day 3 in Camiguin -- beach bumming and touring around the island. Here's how the day went.

Day 3: Camiguin

8:00 AM - Breakfast

Just a few meters away from where we stayed at is the port. It's where you'll find boats that you can ask to take you to the famous white islet of Camiguin for a particular price. Also there's a small tiangge in the area, as well as a couple of turo-turo eateries. It's called turo-turo because you simply have to point which dishes you'd like to eat and they'll prepare it for you (turo is tagalog for to point). We had breakfast at the eateries there, under the shade of the coconut and mango trees. Refreshing and appetizing with the sea as our view.

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That's the beach in front of the boat port. That's our view while having breakfast. Crystal Clear, and very clean.

9:00 AM - Trip to White Islet

We negotiated with one of the local boat operators to take us to the famous Camiguin White Islet and back. We had to book two boats because we were 11 in the group, and one boat can only accommodate up to six passengers. Also the locals informed us that we needed goggles or snorkel gear for us to enjoy the corals there. Quite excited with the idea, we did rent snorkel gear for Php85.00 -- good for the entire trip.

To our dismay, upon our arrival at the white islet, there were also a couple of locals who offer snorkel gear for rent --- at a cheaper price! If you didn't bring any snorkel gear with you, don't worry because you can rent their gear for Php 50.00 when you get to the White Islet. Don't rent from the port (lesson learned).

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Yes, that's how small the White Islet is. View from our boat on our way to the White Islet.

9:15 AM - Tiny Paradise

Wow. Major Wow. The white islet was more beautiful than I had imagined. Just a small island of white sand with crystal clear water and a very healthy marine ecosystem to boot. With goggles, you'll clearly see the corals, the schools of fish, and we even had the chance to meet a coral snake. LOL. Camiguin White Islet is simply beautiful.

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We're finally here!

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Simply Beautiful!

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View from the island: Mt. Hibok-hibok in all its glory!

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White sand, crystal clear waters

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See how clear the water is, you can see fishes swimming with you!

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Woohoo, enjoy the sea and sun and sand!

12:30 PM - Back to Camiguin Main Island

High tide was coming up and the islet is starting to disappear. Yes, literally the white sand slowly became engulfed by the sea, and what used to be sand on my feet became water. After going back to the resort, went out again to tour the island. We negotiated with the multicab driver who drove us to the resort last night to also take us around the island.

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One of the views we got to see while on our way to the Sunken Cemetery.

We decided to have a late lunch at the Sunken Cemetery. There was a restaurant on a hill overlooking the cemetary, but we were too lazy to go to the cemetery -- I think probably because we were so full, and that the sun was just at its glory. We've been tanned enough already.

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The Sunken Cemetery

3:00 PM - Old Volcano and Station of the Cross

Another popular hotspot of the island of Camiguin is the Old Volcano and the Stations of the Cross. During holy week, the locals would climb the steps of this old, inactive volcano and visit each station of the cross. This is an old Catholic tradition. Fortunately, when you reach the top, you'll have a breathtaking view.

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Stations of the Cross

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View from the top!

5:00 PM - Ardent Hot Springs

Another hotspot of the island you cannot miss is the hot springs of Mount Hibok-Hibok. This mountain is the volcano at the center of the island, probably shaping the island as it is right now. There are several "pools" you can check out: the lukewarm, half-cold half-warm (at first you'll enter the pool assuming it will be hot, but cold water actually settles below. So you'll get half warm water and half cold water below). Also there's the really hot spring water with 39 degrees C in temperature. Amazing, really. And crystal clear too.

They also have massage services for Php 150.00 for those who want a total relaxation package.

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Hot Springs -- see how clear the water is?

7:00 PM - Dinner

After the hot spring, we went back to our resort, changed into dry clothes and had dinner. We had dinner at the Terrasse International Ristorante just a couple of meters away from the resort and the food they serve there is really really good. A bit pricey, but definitely good.

Day 4: Trip back home

The trip back home is a struggle -- knowing that your vacation is about to end makes me depressed. Our flight back to Manila is at 4PM, so we had to leave Camiguin early in the morning so we can check in at the airport at around 2:00 PM.

Just before leaving Camiguin island, we bought our pasalubongs. Camiguin is famous for its Pastel, bread with creamy custard filling. The prices of one big box of Pastel is only Php 130.00, whereas you can buy them for Php 180.00 in Manila. We hoarded A LOT of boxes as pasalubong for our friends, and families.

we arrived in Cagayan de Oro City at around 11:30 AM, and so we decided to have lunch at one of its famous malls -- Lim Ket Kai mall. It's one of the first and biggest malls in the city. Rumor has it that everytime SM CDO makes some upgrades to its mall, Lim Ket Kai Mall will also do the same.

At around 2:30 PM, we checked in at the airport and at 6:00 PM, we were back in the jungle (Manila). Hello again, world.

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The plane to take us back home. Huhuhu :(

So here's a summary of our expenses for Days 3 and 4:

Day 3:

Php 100.00 - Breakfast
Php 100.00 - Boat Rental (Php 1100.00 for two boats roundtrip)
Php 85.00 - Snorkel Gear
Php 200.00 - Lunch
Php 5.00 - Entrance Fee to Stations of the Cross
Php 30.00 - Entrance Fee to Hot Springs
Php 200.00 - Dinner
Php 100.00 - Multicab rental (Php 1000.00 tour, includes transport to port the next morning)
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Php 820.00

Day 4:

Php 50.00 - Breakfast/Coffee at the Port
Php 500.00 - Pasalubong (Pastel)
Php 150.00 - Pasalubong (Keychains, etc.)
Php 150.00 - Ferry Fare
Php 140.00 - Bus Fare
Php 7.00 - Jeepney fare from Bus Terminal to Lim Ket Kai Mall
Php 200.00 - Lunch
Php 100.00 - Taxi to Airport
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Php 1297.00

The total expenses of my 4-days in CDO and Camiguin:

Day 1: Php 1134.00
Day 2 (AM): Php 900.00
Day 2 (PM): Php 968.00
Day 3: Php 820.00
Day 4: Php 1297.00
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Php 5119.00

Not bad at all!
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