Demi Went Solo in Coron, Palawan

I’ve gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says:

turn back!

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And just like that, I survived four days in Coron, Palawan alone. What a great way to welcome my 26th year of existence!

And all because of the furnishing support of the people around me, who believed that I could make it on my own, who pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.

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Day 0

The night before my trip, I was very reluctant to pursue it. My clothes were lying on the floor, all scattered around. My bag was empty, and I didn’t know what to put first. I was a mess. Only then I realized how reliant I am towards Ace that even packing my things became a challenge. I had to admit that I tend to overpack, that is why he does all the packing whenever we travel. Nonetheless, I tried my best to pack the lightest as I could, but I still failed.

Ace accompanied me to the airport for my 5 am flight. His uneasiness was very contagious as he kept asking if I had everything I needed. Well, I couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. After five years of being together, it was the first time I’d be away for days. I expected he’d be worried.

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Day 1

I arrived at Busuanga at 7:30 am. A weird feeling crept inside me as I stepped out of the plane. “This is it! There’s no turning back! I can do this!” I whispered to myself. I walked to the exit and saw tour guides holding placards with guest names on it. I stopped and looked for my name, but I didn’t find it. I thought I was doomed.

“What hotel po ma’am?”, a man approached me. He pointed the van that would take me to my hostel.

From Busuanga Airport, the town of Coron is a forty-five-minute drive. The view along the way was spectacular. We passed by a vast grassy field that I later learned was a private ranch. The lush greens along the way reminded me of the Subic Forest in Subic Bay National Park. The positive energy from that ride was enough to put my heart at ease.

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The driver dropped me along with a Chinese girl named Ling in front of our hostel.  The staffs immediately accommodated us and took us to our quarter. I stayed at Happy Camper’s Hostel because of the good reviews I’ve read online. I also have friends who had checked in there before. Our room is a shared one. I chose a bed next to Lings.

After lunch, we agreed to explore the town together. We visited Maquinit Hot Spring, the Cashew Factory, and we also hiked Mt Tapyas.

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Exhausted after a day of strolling the town, we decided to hit the hay right after dinner. Not bad for my first day after all.

Day 2

I was already up at 7 am the next day. I had a cup of coffee and then prepared my things. I booked an island hopping tour package for two days with JY Travel and Tours. Ling happened to book with them, too. Unfortunately, my scheduled tour for the day was different from hers. So, we had no choice but to part ways at the port.

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Since I was a solo guest, the tour operator put me along with another group. At first, it felt really awkward to be alone and not know anyone. I also had a problem with conversing in Filipino, which made it harder for me to fit. I was silent the whole time until we reached our first stop.

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Kayangan View deck

Our first destination was the infamous Kayangan Lake. It is the most visited spot on the island. They said you haven’t been to Coron if you haven’t visited Kayangan. Dubbed as the cleanest lake in the country, I already expected people to flock the area. As I climbed the steep staircase to the view deck, I came to a queue of people waiting for their turn to take a photo. But the beautiful view you see from there was not the lake yet but the azure waters of Coron Bay. To get to the lake, you still had to descend through steep, slippery stairs.

Though because of the swarm of people, the lake wasn’t as magnificent as I thought it would be, it was fairly clean. The water was clear, and you can still see the rock formations underneath. But I didn’t stay there for long because I felt so lonely looking at the people having fun swimming in groups. I went back ahead to our boat.

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We had a reef-hopping spree all throughout the day. We were able to visit Las Islas de Coral, Green Lagoon, Quin Reef, and CYC Beach. Our tour guide also prepared a sumptuous lunch for us. Additionally, I started to be comfortable with the group, which made me feel really better.

My day ended great! Our tour finished at around 5 pm. Ling was already at the hostel when I arrived, also done with her tour. We rested for a few hours and headed out for dinner. Since it was rainy that night, we decided to just go back to the hostel right after eating. Probably tired after a long day of an island tour, she fell asleep early. It didn’t take me a while to do the same.

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Day 3

The next morning, I woke up to a heavy feeling. I still had a hangover from the other days’ activity. My alarm kept ringing. Afraid to wake up other guests, I dragged myself out of bed. I forced myself to prepare for another set of frolic island hopping.

While brushing my teeth, I looked at the mirror and smiled. I suddenly thought of Ace. This was a usual situation every time we travel. He always had to drag my butt out of bed to get ready. Oh, I missed him! But this time, I had to do it myself.

I came back to my senses when I heard a knock on the door. I hurried up and prepared my things. At 8:30, I was already at the port waiting for my new group. Gladly, most of them were from Cebu, specifically Liloan which is very near my hometown. They were accommodating when they learned I was traveling alone. I didn’t feel out of place, at least.

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Our first stop was Luluyuan Lake, also known as the Barracuda Lake. They said there are barracudas sightings in the deeper area of the lake, hence the name. However, only professional divers are allowed to go to that area.

The lake lies behind the limestone cliffs facing the Coron Bay. To get to it, we had to climb the stairs, but unlike Kayangan Lake, there were fewer steps.

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Twin Lagoon

We also visited the Twin Lagoon on that same day. It was probably my favorite stop during my entire stay in Coron. The lagoons are separated by a thin rock wall. The first one serves as the docking area, while the other one can only be accessed through a small hollow on low tides. It was quite a challenge getting through it because we had to lie on our backs so we could watch our head and avoid hitting the sharp cave ceiling.

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Twin Lagoon

We had more stops on that day which were fairly stunning. But the Twin Lagoon paradise made a mark in my memory.

At 4pm, I was already at our hostel. I took a shower and decided to have dinner early. It was my last night in Coron, and I wanted to stroll the town at night. However, Ling already checked out so no one could come with me. The thought of walking on the streets at night alone scared me and made me cancel my plan. So, I decided to just go back to the hostel to pack my things for my flight back to Cebu the next morning.

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I survived Coron alone!

THOUGHT about Coron: 

Coron is a beautiful utopia that didn’t disappoint me. The people are accommodating and friendly. I also have to highlight how safe the place is for solo travelers. In the future, I would love to go back to this astounding paradise with Ace.

THOUGHT about traveling solo: 

I was scared but I did it! I am very proud of myself for going out of my comfort zone. I discovered a lot about myself. Going to Coron alone reminded me how strong and brave I am. It reminded me that I am capable of doing things on my own, managing my time, my money, my things, and even myself. It also made me trust my own judgment and instinct. It made me free.

But I had to admit, I missed my husband’s company the entire time. I wished I did all the island hopping spree with him, I wished he was there to speak Tagalog for me. I just wished to experience Coron with him.

I guess, solo travelling really won’t work for me. But would I want to travel solo again? Definitely! But for now, let me make up to Ace.

Over to you, what are your thoughts about solo traveling? Let me hear your thoughts.

 

’til our next story!

Love, Demi

 

Rediscovering Sipaway Island and Its Thriving Paradise

It was a fine Saturday with Elliot and me trying to wake up Ace on his deep slumber. Elliot snuggled Ace’s body until he got up with an annoyed look. He was angry, but no, he couldn’t stand Elliot’s puppy eyes begging him to play. So he obliged to give in, took that bone and played fetch inside our tiny abode. Then, there’s screeching and barking all over the house.

This has been our typical weekend since Ace started working on a night shift. We couldn’t spend days outside because the weather is too hot for our little boy (Elliot).

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Paraiso de Antonio

But last Saturday was different. After lunch, Ace was on the phone with his mom. She invited us to go to Sipaway Island with her. Ace had been itching to go to Sipaway since last week, but his schedule didn’t permit. Upon hearing his mom’s invitation, he impulsively said yes. I, on the other hand, couldn’t say no to this island. You’ve read my post about how laidback life in Sipaway is, you know I’m in love with the place. You bet I was going!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring Elliot because we didn’t get him a travel permit. As much as Ace’s relatives wanted to see him, we had to leave him in my dad’s care.

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Gabriel in Paraiso de Antonio.

As early as 5:00 am on Sunday, we were already on a van bound for Toledo to catch the 7:00 am ferry trip to San Carlos City. After securing our ticket, we immediately boarded the ferry. I was very sleepy that I instantly fell asleep long before the ship departed. I woke up to passengers getting ready to disembark, and before I knew it, we were already in San Carlos City port.

Before transferring to an outrigger boat to the island, my mother-in-law and I dropped by a pastry shop to buy a cake. I learned that it was Ace’s uncle’s birthday. After 30 minutes, we arrived at the small port of Dapdap. From there, we hailed a motorcycle to Barangay Ermita. The familiar country road once again reminded me how much I love this island. Aside from some road repairs, nothing much has changed after two years. It has the same laidback vibes. The good news is, the island has now a regular supply of water and electricity.

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Whispering Palms Island Resort in 2017.

Two years ago, we had the chance to visit Whispering Palms Resort, which was the sole resort in Sipaway at that time. I found out that now, there are new thriving resorts on the island. Parana Beach, Kiwi Beach Resort, Paraiso de Antonio, are just some of them. Ace and I wanted to at least check out one or two of these developing spots during our stay.

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Kiwi Beach Resort’s large saltwater pool.

We celebrated Ace’s uncle’s birthday at Kiwi Beach Resort. The resort highlights a water curtain that plunges into the two large saltwater pool. Yep! It’s a saltwater pool. However, the 4 feet depth is not ideal for kids. I suggest bringing floaters for your little ones. I tried using one but ended in a somersault.

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Summertime is swimming time.
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Channeling the inner kid in me.
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Old but gold!!!

The resort has bamboo cottages and picnic tables available for rent. They have dedicated space for grilling, too. It’s okay to bring your own food (and beer). We did bring a lot!

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Isda you? (Waley!)

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On the other side of the resort is a viewing deck overlooking the narrow beach. From afar, you can see the long stretch of the mainland San Carlos City. A pathway on the side brings you to the shore. However, it’s not fit for swimming nor beach-bumming because it’s basically a mangrove area.

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Ace and I decided to visit Paraiso De Antonio, too. Together with his sister and nephew, we excused ourselves from the party. From Kiwi resort, Paraiso de Antonio is not more than 5 minutes drive. It was late afternoon when we went there, so guests were already on their way out. How did we get so lucky?

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The gate to paradise.

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This spacious palm tree paradise is perfect for camping and team-building activities. There’s really nothing much to see, but the place is serene. It grants you that island vibes. I could imagine myself pitching my camping tent here, with a bonfire and reggae music playing.

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Disconnect to reconnect.

It is a place where you could sit down and reconnect with yourself.

It is truly a paradise!

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Ace thinking how could he be so handsome!

After 30 minutes, we decided to go back to Kiwi Resort. I wish we could have stayed longer in Paraiso de Antonio. But it was starting to get dark.

The next day, Ace and I took the 8 am boat trip back to the mainland and caught the 9 am ferry trip to Toledo. It was a literally short stay in Sipaway, but it was all worth our time.

Sipaway once again enchanted us with its island charm. Every farewell to this island is actually an invitation to come again. We are yet to explore the nooks of this humble island, but thinking about it, makes our feet itch. We can’t wait to rediscover this beautiful utopia for the third time.

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Ace and Demi in Paraiso de Antonio

Over to you, have you been to Sipaway? Let us hear from you in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook! See you!

’til the next paradise! 

Love, Ace and Demi

 

First Kick Of Summer in Carnaza Island

And just like that, summer is here again!

Technically, there is really no summer season in the Philippines. As a tropical country, we only have wet and dry seasons. Some foreigners think it’s summer all year-round here. For us Filipinos, we consider the months of March, April, and May as the summer periods being the hottest months.

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Too cheesy for summer, yeah?

Although we could enjoy the beach at any time of the year, we feel a different kind of excitement when March comes. Perhaps, it’s the thought that summer is about to kick off.

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Beachy days!

But for busy bees like us, it’s hard to get time off from work to enjoy the season. So we make sure to seize every chance to travel and make our own summer story. Apropos, my good friend Niña and I had a holiday that fell on Friday last week. It was kind of a long weekend for us and luckily, Ace was also able to join.

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Wave and sand are happiness on your feet!

Niña and I had been lusting for Carnaza Island in Daanbantayan, Cebu. After our Bantayan Island escapade last year, we were supposed to visit Carnaza before summer 2018 ended, but we never got the chance.

Finally, comes summer 2019! We’ll never let Carnaza get away from us.

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Chillin’ like the boat is mine!

So the plan was to go to the North Bus Terminal as early as 1:30am on Friday to catch the first trip to Daanbantayan. However, the handsome husband turned off his alarm (again), and as expected, we overslept. I was awakened around 4 in the morning and realized we’re late. I quickly jumped out of the bed to check my phone. I received a few messages from Niña, I knew she’d been waiting. I called her, and thankfully she was still awake. We wasted no time and headed to the bus terminal.

While we were on the bus, I was a bit worried about not catching the local passenger boat to the island. Based on the information we’ve read online, Carnaza has only one local boat trip per day that leaves Tapilon Port at 7:30 am. If we’re unable to catch it, we have to hire a private boat to take us to the island which would cost us a fortune since we’re not a big group.

Great fervor made us carry on our trip despite the time. We might just stay in the mainland for the night and catch the first trip the next day. Or, whatever! Hahaha!

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Isn’t she beautiful?

It was past 9 o’clock when we reached Tapilon Port. As soon as we got off the bus, motorcycle drivers already knew we’re heading to Carnaza. They told us there was no boat bound to the island in Tapilon on that day because of the big waves. They suggested we go to the town’s port instead. We somewhat already expected it because we’re freakin’ late.

We decided to have our breakfast first in the nearby eatery before going to town. After eating, we took a tricycle to the other port. Heaven was so kind to us. A passenger boat from the island had just ported when we arrived. They said it would leave the mainland at 1 pm which meant we had to wait for three hours. So while waiting for the time, we took a nap in the boat.

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Ace and Demi in Carnaza Eco Park.

The boat departed as soon as the clock struck one. We noticed the passengers crowded at the center wearing their jackets. We were still a few meters away from the port when big waves started hitting our boat. It was a rough ride all throughout. Scary thoughts came crashing in as our boat maneuvered its way through the harsh waves.

Then I heard one woman said, “Aw, gagmay ra man diayng balud ron.” (Oh, the waves are relatively small today.) I exclaimed, “What? Are these still small, nay?

Normal ra man ni nga balud day,” she replied. (These waves are normal.)

I didn’t know if I should feel at ease or be more worried. Nonetheless, we arrived on the island safe and sound. Then, we rode a motorcycle to Carnaza Eco Park.

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The woodsheds in Carnaza Eco Park.

The Eco Park is the sole resort on the island. The most captivating attraction in the place is the beautifully aligned triangular rooms facing the coast. They call it the woodsheds, which could accommodate 2 persons for only 200 pesos. When we arrived at the resort, there were no other visitors, so we had the place all for ourselves. Oh, good heavens!

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Sunkissed Demi.

Since it was already 3 in the afternoon when we arrived, we agreed to stay in the resort and have the island tour the next day.  We also requested the resort’s cooking service for our meals throughout our stay. After choosing our preferred woodsheds, Niña and I roamed around. Later when we got tired, we vegged out in the sand and talked about how we got lucky. We were very amused by the things that happened that day.

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Starry night in Carnaza Island.

After dinner, we stayed outside just shooting the breeze while listening to the sound of the waves. Stars blanketed the sky as salty wind touched our faces. Everything could never be more perfect!

The next morning, we took an early stroll on the beach to enjoy the morning air. We were very tempted to swim, but the water was too cold. So we just resolved with the waves hitting our feet. Later, we went to the dining hall for breakfast. After breakfast, we prepared for the island tour.

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Postcard worthy scene.

There are motorcycles in the resort that will take guests for an island tour. It cost 150 pesos per person for two hours.

Our first destination was the Twin Beach.  Locals fondly call it Liog-liog Cove. We had to climb the big rock to get a better view of the twin beach. On the right side, was the rugged coastline that reminds us of Jeju Island we see in K-dramas. (Don’t believe me, I haven’t been to Jeju.)

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Not your kind of mermaids.

Our next stop was the Skull Cove. There’s a cavern with skulls inside by the seaside, hence the name. It wasn’t creepy, though. On the side, there’s a narrow pathway that leads to a helipad.

Our last stop was Kailina’s Cove. It has a long stretch of white sand similar to that of Paradise Beach in Bantayan Island. The place is also famous for sunset viewing.

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Paddle boarding in Carnaza Island.

Since we only have two hours for the tour, we went back to the resort in time for lunch. Guests were starting to arrive, too. Some of them pitched their tents in front of the row woodsheds. We took a quick shower, then we had our lunch in the dining area.

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The lagoon.

We agreed to go back to Kailina’s Cove to watch the sunset later that day. So while waiting, we tried paddle boarding in the ecopark’s lagoon. It was my first time to try paddle boarding, imagine my annoying screams. I didn’t know it was painfully straining. In fact, we woke up to sore muscles the next day.

At 4 pm, we went back to Kalina’s to catch the sunset. Thick clouds began to form in the sky. We just crossed our fingers and believed the clouds might disappear. When we arrived at the place, there were already a few people who were waiting for the sun to set. We patiently waited for an hour or so. The sun’s rays slowly beamed through the clouds giving us a positive sign. It painted the sky with an orange hue. Eventually, the sun came out, showing us its full glory. Awe, beautiful! What a perfect view in ending the day!

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Sunset at Kailina’s Cove.

Tired after a day of cove hopping spree, we wanted to hit the lay right after dinner. Since there were other guests, the night wasn’t as tranquil as the other night. Some inconsiderate guests were playing loud music on their speakers. They could have lowered it down because not all people liked it. Personally, I would prefer listening to the sound of the ocean’s persistent kiss to the shore than that head-banging music. I don’t care if they changed it into Juan Karlos’ infamous ‘Buwan’ hit song, because the cloud was too thick and there wasn’t a moon on the first place.

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‘Coz it’s summer, baby!

Nevertheless, we had a sound sleep that night. We woke up early the next day to catch the 8 am boat trip back to the mainland.

A piece of me broke when our boat departed the island.

Our two nights on the island wasn’t enough that my heart wanted to stay. When we reached the mainland, I felt floating. I didn’t want to check my phone, in fact, I didn’t turn off the airplane mode until we reached Bogo Bus Terminal. I had no choice but to go back to reality. It was definitely a bittersweet goodbye.

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Carnaza, what kind of sorcery is this? 

But, ’til we meet again, Carnaza!

 

Over to you, how do you kick off your summer this year? Let us hear from you in the comment section below!

 

’til our next summer destination!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found in The City of Guns | Danao Highlands

What better way to burn all the fats I hoarded during the holidays than to embark on a 12km trek and get lost in the City of Guns?

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2019… Let’s get it on!

Here’s to more “getting lost” experiences this year!

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The gang!

Northern Cebu is slowly making its name in the list of hiking destinations in the province. One of the most popular is Mt. Mago in Carmen, then there’s Lanigid Hill in Liloan, and recently, Licos Peak in Danao. Last year, we started a quest of discovering potential hiking trails in the northern part of Cebu which we are going to carry on this year.

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A happy kid!

To kick off this year’s adventures, I went along with some hiking fellows to explore the supposedly Lawaan-Mago route. But we ended meandering back to Lawaan because we couldn’t find a vestige trail to Mago. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad start for 2019.

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I arrived in Danao Transport Terminal a ‘bit’ late. (Ahm, okay, really late.) I came to my companions patiently waiting for me. (Thank you, guys.) Without wasting any minute, because I already did, we took a motorcycle at the back of the terminal to Lawaan. The ride was ninety-percent uphill and butt-aching that our driver had to make a few halts to stretch a bit. It took us more than an hour to reach the Lawaan junction.

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Katkat goals.

After a short prayer and few introductions, we commenced with our hike. Beboy advised us that the first leg would be mostly an ascend through a cemented road. Because it had been a while since I last trek, the first few minutes was arduous. Despite my sluggish pace, I found myself panting. I kept a slow gait until my body had adjusted.

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After almost two hours of walking on the paved road, we reached the junction of Danasan and Magtagubtob. We agreed to take a rest before we carry on our hike. We found a small mango tree nearby where we had our lunch.

Lunchtime has to be my favorite part when trekking or climbing mountains because it’s when we get to know each other more. I learned that Geezelle and James are the people behind the blog GeeMiz. I’ve been reading their corner for a while now, and it was great to meet them in person. After lunch, we debated over what makes the texture of an iced-candy powdery. Tatay Raul fended for cornstarch to be the ingredient that gives the iced-candy a refined taste.
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Although, that argument wasn’t resolved, so if you have any idea, please share it with us.

After having enough rest, with replenished energy, we resumed our walk. Still following the barangay road, we passed by some houses and asked for directions to Santican. Not too long, we made a turn into a dirt trail. The trail was relatively an open terrain without foliage canopy but bushes. Favorably, the sun was not too harsh on that day else, we’d all be toasted!

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Oh, no paparazzi please!

After several descending and ascending, meandering through farmlands, we realized we reached a dead end. We tried looking for a possible track but all there was what seems to be a gorge covered by thick foliage. There was no vestige route.

It was already two hours before sundown. Worried that we’d catch nightfall in the forest, we all agreed to turn back to Magtagobtob. Before our final ascent back to Magtagobtob, we made an apropos wrong turn and reached a small household community. We saw a kid and asked which way to the nearest barangay road. He directed us to Lawaan. Albeit steep, it was nearer than Magtagobtob.
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Following his suggestion, we took a descend and crossed a river. A sharp ascent greeted us. We strenuously worked our way to the top. We met a few locals along the way. They came from the weekly tabo-tabo in their barangay. (“Tabo-tabo” is a weekly bazaar common in the mountain areas where people trade and buy goods.) They were kind enough to tell us that we’re on the right path. Finally, we reached the road in no time.

Happiness was all over our faces despite failing to reach Mago on that day. We might have gotten lost along the way, but we found something more important.

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We found out that it’s okay to stop when you aren’t sure. We learned that there is no need to hurry because we will get there, maybe not that day, but someday. At least, we have something to look forward to, we have a reason to come back.

 

’til next getting lost adventures!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

Heaven In the Border | Borderside Mountain Resort

Head to the border but do not cross the line.

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For office people like us who spend the whole week in the city, beating deadlines and dealing with the daily traffic jams, nothing is more comforting than spending a weekend in a place that guarantees relaxation and peace. Most of us seek refuge in the refreshing feel of the mountain, while others prefer the calmness of the sea.

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Beaches are the common go-to place to unwind and chill because they are readily accessible. However, beach resorts tend to be crowded and busy on weekends. This gives way to the rise of mountain resorts.

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So, we were very hyped up when we learned about Borderside Mountain Resort in Compostela, just five minutes away from our house. Tucked near the border of Compostela and Danao, this resort lies peacefully in Bugho, Bagalnga, a far-flung barangay of the former.

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It isn’t as accessible as Gatubod Spring Resort in Basak, so only a few people know about this place. We never got the chance to visit it, not until last weekend. Ace and I went on a road trip with Elliot, and we decided to check it out. (Ways on how to get there is written below.) 

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As soon as we got off from the motorcycle, I instantly fell in love with the place. It was quiet, laid-back and refreshing. I like how it doesn’t feel like a commercial resort but a rest house. The entrance of the resort is canopied by the lush foliage of the bamboo and mango trees. Upon entering the premises, you have to climb the staircase going to the swimming pool. The pool is 4-6 feet deep. On its right side is the house which you can rent for Php2000/night, and on its left is their mini-forest.

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Aside from the serenity of the place, one thing that stands out the most is the cleanliness of the resort. I wonder how I couldn’t see a single falling leaf even when the whole place is surrounded by plants and trees. I think the caretakers are very meticulous in cleaning and sweeping them. I also want to mention how friendly and accommodating they were.

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RATES and OTHER INFORMATION:

HOW TO GET THERE: 

From Compostela, Borderside Mountain Resort can be accessed through Canamucan and/or Buluang road. If you opt for Canamucan road, it is the corner going to Virginia and Gatubod Spring Resort. The road is established, but prepare for an uphill drive when you start to enter the corner street going to Barangay Bagalnga proper. If you choose Buluang road, it is the corner going to Q-Park and Paradise Hills Mountain Resort. Some parts of the street are a bit rough after you pass by Paradise Hills.

You can ride a motorcycle or habal-habal from Compostela Public Market to the resort. The fare is Php40-50 per person. Tell the driver that you are going to Borderside Mountain Resort in Bugho, Bagalnga.

Recommended driver: Alfie — 09108490689

Entrance Fees:

  • Php100/head — Adult
  • Php50/head – kids

Cottages: Php250

Tables: Php200

For overnight stay: (They have rooms under construction.)

  • House: Php2000
  • Own Tent: Php200
  • Resort tent: Php500

For more information, you may contact these numbers:

  • 564-2161
  • 423-4947
  • 09088631029
  • 09420915982

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It’s a garden…it’s a farm… it’s a mountain resort.

~Borderside Mountain Resort

 

 

’til next refreshing guide, everyone!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

Our Northern Exodus Unlocked Our Hiker’s Compass | Liloan Highlands

While the highlands of southern Cebu become a trekking playground frequented by experienced and newbie hikers, the northern highlands remain humble and still. Although the latter is not favored with high elevation, it has trails and vistas you can compare to that of the known mountains out there.

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Recently, I joined a hiking group that aspires to discover the beauty of the highlands in the north. After that successful quest of visiting Mount Licos, I received an invitation from OMG to trek the mountains of Liloan, Cebu. For someone who came from the north myself, I couldn’t say no since I wanted to give my place it’s due recognition.

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The gang!

Our adventure started with a rendezvous in front of Gaisano Grand Mall -Liloan. As soon as we were complete, we walked to the old Liloan Public Market where we took a motorcycle to Barangay Mulao. Good thing there were only seven of us because it’s hard to get a ride. Mulao is 45 minutes uphill ride from the town, the motorcycles to the said place are very limited.

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Mount Licos from Lanigid Hill.

It took a while before we reassembled at the barangay hall of Mulao. So as soon as everyone had gathered, we immediately commenced our hike to Lanigid Hill. I had been to Lanigid last year with my friends and climbing this hill again brought back those memories. But scaling it with new people was different. The trail started with a steep ascent which made us catch our breaths. It was a strenuous warm-up.

From the top of the hill, we saw Mount Licos standing loud and proud. It was great to see her from afar. She’s such a beaut. I felt a sense of pride in surviving her trail.

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After taking a breather from the top, we trailed back to the barangay hall to head to Barangay Tabla to check out Mount Kolo (also known as Mt View). In the Google map, Mulao and Tabla are adjacent to each other, but there is no trail from Lanigid to there. We had to follow the provincial road that goes around Lanipga to Tabla.

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Have I already told you that I hate hiking on concrete roads? My legs easily get tired on cemented roads compared to rocky terrains. Plus the heat produced by the cement is energy-draining.

Yet, that was what exactly happened that day. After 3 hours of walking, we passed by Lanipga National Highschool. We decided to have our lunch at a nearby store since our tummies already signaled a refill. Tatay Raul’s mirthful spirit boosted our appetite as he entertained us with his hilarious quips. With a companion like him, no journey is dull.

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As soon as we had rested enough, we resumed our hike to Barangay Tabla. We had to ask some locals along the way about Mount View, but only a few of them know it. Most of them were more familiar with Mount Kolo because it’s a neighborhood name (purok). However, nobody could give us a specific way to get to that hill.

Knowing that we were already in Purok Kolo, we trusted our guts and adventurous soul to lead us to the right track. (Tatay Raul called it the hiker’s compass.) We looked for a higher elevation and followed a trail uphill. Fortunately, we were not mistaken. A taller hill stood in front of us.

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Lo and behold, Tabla’s Mountain View!

Seeing the sign that says “This way to Mt View” felt like we won a raffle contest. We did not waste time. We hurriedly climbed the hill. I didn’t mind my sore legs, I just wanted to reach the top. And I wasn’t disappointed. The verdurous panorama of Liloan and the Mactan Island from afar welcomed us. What an astonishing reward!

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The place showcased a 360-degree view of lush foliage. The mountain ranges of Compostela and Danao could be seen from there. In fact, we saw the Holy Cross of Compostela, too.

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We stayed there for a while as we savored the pleasant scenery in front of us. The cold breeze of the wind shooed away our weary feel. We wished to stay longer but time wasn’t on our favor. After an hour, we bid goodbye to the place.

I went home that day with sore legs but with and accomplished heart.

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When life feels like rut and jading, the mountain calls to rescue.

Personal thought:

Life happens! We have different ways to get through it. Some dance with it while others try to escape. Me? I seek refuge in the mountains. If Moana keeps going back to the water, I, on the other hand, go back to the mountains. Because that’s where I feel safe and at peace. It’s where I feel at home.

Over to you! How do you keep up with life? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me some words.

 

‘Til our next exodus!

Keep safe!

Love, Demi

A Letter From Licos Peak That I Wished I’ve Read Before I Scaled Her.

We got scammed last weekend! It’s weird that we’re happy about it.

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Our expectation deceived us once again. But this time, it’s something we couldn’t resent. Last weekend, we scaled Mt Licos in Danao City. We had to admit that we underestimated her. Because we were so eager to meet her, we pushed through our plan even with scarce information. We ended up in a memorable mishap that became an important lesson.

From my firsthand experience, I want to share this letter for those who want to climb the Licos Peak. Read this when you plan to visit her.

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Dear you, 

Before you climb me, I have two requests.

“Don’t underestimate me.”
“Expect neither less nor more.”

When you are ready, I will open my arms for you. I will let you step on my soil. But I have to warn you. On your way to my peak, you will trip and fall. You will scream in pain, and you will feel betrayed.

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Should you decide to walk on me, I want you to understand the lesson of my trail. My height might be a joke because I only stand less than 500 meters above the sea. But my path is not easy. I have prepared challenges for you, some of which, you can compare to that of the mighty mountains out there!

So, now let me ask you again. Are you ready to face me?

Dear, don’t fret. I want you to visit me, so I prepared a sneak peek of the challenges along my trail.

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I will let you hold on to small and thin roots so you will learn to value small chances. I will teach you not to trust all the big roots because I want you to make careful choices. My loose soil and stones are the tiny things that will spoil your day. I hope you won’t let them affect you because they will delay your plans.

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Along the way, you will see trees of different sizes. Be careful which to trust.

These trees are like the people around you. Some of them will help and some won’t. Few of those will lay their branches and will pull you up even if they have to bend. Some will pretend to cheer you up but when you hold on to them, they will break and you will feel betrayed.

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Sharp rocks will welcome you near my peak. These sharp rocks signify your major problems. If you don’t pay attention, you’re likely to get hurt. But if you learn to focus and make careful steps, you will get through them with ease.

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My peak is your dream. You will feel accomplished and fulfilled. You will feel proud of yourself for passing my test. The verdant vista in front of you will be your reward. Savor the moment, feel the wind, and calm yourself. Soak into the luscious foliage in front of you. You deserve it.

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But when you think it is over, the wind will whisper into your ear, “It’s time to go down.”

I want you to contemplate on this. Before you continue, how long are you going to stay at my peak? Most of you will wish to stay there, but you will be left without a choice but to go down.

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Your life goes like that. When you are at the peak of your happiness, some things will drag you down. You will try hard to resist it because you don’t want your happiness to end. But, sometimes you will end up defeated.

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Please remember this, just because you have succeeded doesn’t mean your new road is wonderfully paved from there. Your test will continue. If you are lucky, it will be easier. What if you are not?

I hope the best for you. But I want to prepare you for the worse.

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On your way down, the challenges will appear tougher.

DSC05243This time, you will skid. It will hurt you a lot. You have to slide and learn to accept that you are going down. When it hurts so bad, stop and seek refuge to the trees you trusted in your way up. Hold on to them until you’re ready to move on.

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And finally, when you hit rock bottom, look up and give me your last glance. I will wave at you, this time, the pride will be mine.

You will realize that even if you’re back on the ground, you did a great job! You’ve passed my test, and you’re brave enough to go down.

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Only then you will realize that success is not in reaching my peak. Success is when you are finally home.

Now, my question is… Are you ready to climb me again? 

 

With love, 

Mount Licos

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Personal thought: 

I hope you heard her. Our climb to Mt. Licos was a wonderful misadventure that we’d love to do again. This mountain went beyond our expectations. Should you find yourself at her peak, send my regards. Take care of her because she’s a great teacher. 🙂

How to get there: 

From Danao City, hail a motorcycle in front of the City Civic Center to Barangay Licos. The fare is Php 50/person. The ride will take 30 minutes. From the barangay hall, ask the locals the way to the peak.

Special thanks to Mr. Ericson Batulan for the tips and information.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Demi.

Our Junket to Candijay’s Pride |Canawa Spring, Can-umantad Falls, Cadapdapan Rice Terraces

After our fleeting stay in Alicia to behold the wonderful panorama of the town’s verdant ridge, we headed to check out the adjacent municipality’s pride. We’re talking about the town of Candijay. This humble town has thriving touristry which centers in eco-tourism. With all the fuss Alicia is making, Candijay consequently became a side-trip destination.

Joining the bandwagon, Ace and I included Candijay in our itinerary. After we parted with Bernard — our Alicia guide, we proceeded to Candijay to visit three of its tourist attractions.

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Demi in Canawa Cold Spring.
Our first stop was Canawa Spring. This cryptic cold spring is pretty popular because of the said unfathomable depth.

At first glance from the entrance, it looked like any normal swimming pool. With its concrete stairs and perimeters, the place looked developed and unnatural. I instantly felt Ace’s disappointment.

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Canawa Cold Spring.
As a cold spring lover myself, I couldn’t say no to it. So I begged Ace to let me dip into the water for few minutes to ease my desire. As we walked down the stairs, we realized that the main lagoon was tucked in the upper part within the canopy of lush foliage. The aquamarine water reminded me of the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao. Even the profound depth was a similar story.

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Canawa Spring main lagoon.
The cold water soothed my tired legs. Five minutes in the water was enough to make me shiver.

We did not stay long in Canawa Spring. We carried on to our next stop — Can-Umantad Falls. It was not too far from the spring but getting there was no joke. The steep and bumpy road gave our driver an arduous work.

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Ace in Can-Umantad Falls.
This waterfall is said to be the tallest waterfall in the province. The narrow drop bellying at the lower part before it hits the basin is incredibly stunning.

There were a lot of people when we arrived but not enough to make the whole place crowded. We noticed that the tourism office is starting to develop the area fronting it. There are cottages and tables for rent few meters away from the falls.

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Can-Umantad Falls.
Once again, the handsome husband refused to swim. (He was being a killjoy, really.)

There were four middle-aged women enjoying the natural massage of the liquid curtain. I neared it so I can try it myself. I did not expect the water to be so warm. It was my first time to feel a warm waterfall. It has a sandy bed and the pool is only my waist deep.

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Demi in Can-umantad Falls.
I’m not really a fan of warm water, so as soon as I realized that it was, I immediately get out of it. I changed to my dry clothes and we went back to the registration area where our driver waited.

Later we found out that the water in the falls streamed from Cadap-dapan River above that supplies irrigation to the rice terraces. That explains the warm feel.

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Ace and Demi in Can-umantad Falls.
It was almost 1 pm when we headed to the rice terraces in Cadap-dapan. There’s an eatery in the area where we planned to eat our lunch.

As for the rice terraces, there was actually nothing much to see. Since it was past the harvest season, the farmers were still in the middle of plowing and preparing the field for planting. So we did not expect much. We were just curious about it and it’s the most similar sight to that of the famous Banaue Rice terraces.

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Cadapdapan Rice Terraces.
Although we came to bare terraces, the place was nothing short of spectacular. I mean, it was amazing!!! I could only imagine the effort our farmers put through to realize such genius farming scheme.

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Cadapdapan Rice Terraces.
After a short breather, we checked out their restaurant’s menu. Ace and I couldn’t decide what food to order, so we agreed to go to a public market nearby instead. Our driver drove us to Lungsod-Daan market, and we bid him goodbye.

After eating our lunch in a small eatery at the back of the public market, we realized that we finished our tour earlier than we expected. I wanted to explore Lungsod-Daan, but Ace was already sleepy and tired. So we decided to proceed to Anda where we were staying for the night.

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Who is MagAnda?
From Lungsod-Daan, we rode a jeepney to the municipality of Guindulman. Upon arrival at the town center, tricycle and motorcycle drivers swarmed around us asking where we were heading. I knew beforehand that there are vans to Anda. But those drivers said that there are no more vans in the afternoon and that we had to hire a tricycle going there. When Ace asked how much the fare was, they said it would cost us Php 150. I was skeptical about it because according to my friend, the fare to Anda from Guindulman is only Php 30.

I told Ace that we will wait for a bit. Five minutes later, the van arrived. It pays to be patient, they said. 🙂

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Sunrise in Anda.
When we arrived in Anda, we immediately looked for a place to stay. Our search wasn’t that hard because there were plenty of hostels around the area. Some households are also open for homestays.

We chose an accommodation near the beach. The moment I opened our room accommodation, my eyes suddenly felt heavy. All I wanted to do at that moment was to sleep. I didn’t even bother to wash up. Ace, on the other hand, went outside to talk to the caretaker of the resort who happened to be from Cebu.

My growling tummy awakened me at around 7 pm, signaling it was time for dinner. I noticed Ace already sleeping soundly beside me. I woke him up and we went out to look for food. After dinner, we stayed in the resort’s lobby to kill time.

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Sunrise in Anda.
The next morning, we woke up early to catch the sunrise. But it was cloudy and the sun was already up when the clouds cleared off. We skipped swimming because we weren’t in the mood. At exactly 10 o’clock, we prepared to go back to Cebu. 🙂

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Ace and Demi in Anda, Bohol.

We had such a wonderful time in Bohol. I was amazed as to how friendly Boholanons are. From the bus drivers to that woman selling mangoes by street, there is no doubt that Boholanons are hospitable people. They made our entire sashay memorable.

Over to you. Have you been to Bohol? What place in Bohol do you recommend us to visit next? Leave us some words. 🙂

’til next time, Bohol!

Love, Ace and Demi.

 

Celebrating Love Over The Panoramic Ridge Of Alicia| Binabaje Hills

Bohol — a neighboring island of the Queen City of The South has become the talk of the town lately. With all the trekking and mountaineering hype nowadays, the province opens its own playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

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Behold! The panoramic ridge of Alicia. Also known as the Binabaje Hills or Alicia Rolling Hills, this wonderful sight is tucked in Cambaol, Alicia, Bohol.

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Since it started making noise around the social media, Ace and I had been lusting to visit it. We were supposed to spend our anniversary there. But we were too excited so we agreed to do it advance instead.

So last Friday, as soon as I got off from work, Ace and I went to the port to book a 1:30 am ferry trip to Bohol. There are several entry points from Cebu to Bohol but we chose the Cebu-Tubigon route because it was the earliest trip. (See other ways on how to get to Bohol below.) We came at the Fast Cat ticketing office on a long queue of chance passengers and that would include us. We waited for 30 minutes before they resumed their booking line.

As soon as we had our tickets, we immediately headed to the port and paid the terminal fees. We did not wait too long at the terminal though. At exactly 1:30 am we were already on board. Ace and I were hoping to catch some z’s but the waves were not too friendly. We ended awake throughout the trip. I still felt groggy when we got off.

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To cut the story short, we took a van bound for Carmen. From there, we transferred to a bus going to Alicia. As much as I wanted to doze off, I was so busy watching the greens along the way. Ace said our trip was literally a breath of fresh air. IMG20180609074931[1]

 

We dropped off at the public market of Alicia where we met our guide – Bernard. We agreed to have our breakfast first while Bernard looked for the other motorcycle driver who will take us to the jump-off area.

The ride to the jump-off was really bumpy. You certainly need an experienced driver especially on rainy days as the road could get slippery. Good thing, the weather was on our side on that day.

An important note: they now imposed a 30-peso environmental fee.

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As soon as we arrived at the jump-off area, we promptly started our trek. The first leg welcomed us with its long ascend. For Ace and I who had not hiked for a month, it was pretty exhausting. My pace was slow as I didn’t want to surprise my legs. I used every chance of rest to enjoy the beautiful panorama around.

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Bernard was considerate enough to wait for us while we took a lot of stops to rest and admire the beauty that the hills offered.

I really wanted to say this. I commend our guide for being both informative and patient. On that same day was the Game 4 of the NBA Finals with the exciting 3-0 standing of the GS-Warriors against the C-Cavaliers. It was past 7:30 am when we started our trek and the NBA game was starting soon. I knew so well, how much he wanted to watch the game because Ace was, too. Yet, he never hurried us nor made us feel that we had to. My two thumbs are up for you, Bernard!

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Despite several stops and slow pace, we arrived at the summit in an hour. On very hot days, the trek to the top would be more challenging as it was a steppe trail. There were no trees to shelter from the scorching heat of the sun. Gladly, we had cloudy weather that day. The only challenges we had were the steep ascent and loose soil.

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While sitting and soaking up the wonderful vista in front of us, Ace and I realized that it had been a while since we trekked together. His schedule was very elusive. We’re glad we were finally able to do it again.

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We sat there for few minutes while we shared the jellies we brought. We talked about going back next time and bring Elliot with us. The trail isn’t hard. We’re pretty sure Elliot can manage to the top.

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Soon after we regained our energies we decided to descend since we still have other places to go. We took a different trail to exit the hills. Contrary to the ascending trail earlier, the exit trail was mostly descending. I can’t say it was easier. For someone who hates downhill path, a steep descent is more challenging than an ascent. I felt like my legs and thighs were about to burst.

Nonetheless, I made it back to the base in one piece. And as a bonus, the Warriors-Cavaliers game wasn’t over. 😀 We got to watch it in a house near the jump-off area.

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We separated with Bernard at the municipal hall of Alicia. We were heading to Candijay to visit the nearby tourist attractions which I’ll be writing on a later post. 🙂

Meanwhile, here are some tips on how to get to Alicia Hills.

How to get to Bohol from Cebu:

  • Via Tubigon — *Ride a ferry from Cebu to Tubigon (Php 275 – Fast Cat). *Ride a V-hire from Tubigon to Carmen (Php 80). *Ride a bus to Alicia (Php 40 Ceres).
  • Via Tagbilaran — *Ride a ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran. *Ride a motorcycle to Dao terminal. *Ride a bus or van to Alicia.
  • Via Ubay — *Ride a ferry from Cebu to Ubay. *Ride a bus bound for Alicia.
  • Via Getafe — *Ride a boat from Cebu to Getafe. *Ride a motorcycle to the jeepney area. *Ride a jeepney to Talibon. *Ride a jeepney to Ubay. *Ride a bus to Alicia.

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Tips: 

  • Ask the driver to drop you off at the municipal hall of Alicia.
  • Prior to your visit, get in touch with Alicia’s Tourism Officer, Maam Godelia Lumogdang at 09338655650. She will provide you with a registered guide and arrange your transport.
  • It’s best to climb the hills before sunrise. They said the sunrise there is spectacular.

 Possible Expenses to Alicia:

  • Cebu to Tubigon – Php 310.00 (Premium Class because they ran out of Economy) 
  • Van to Carmen – Php 80
  • Bus to Alicia — Php 60
  • Motorcycle Ride to the Jump Off (back & forth) – Php 200.00
  • Guide Fee/5pax – Php 300.00 (Php 500 for overnight)
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Happy 2nd Anniversary to us!

We hope you find this post useful. Enjoy your trip to Alicia, guys!

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

Our Summer Story in Bantayan Island | Part 1

If the southern part of Cebu features the most explored mountain ranges, waterfalls, and also known to be home of the extreme adventure – canyoneering, the northern Cebu prides its stunning white sand beaches, paradise-like islets, healthy marine life and beautiful diving spots.

An impulsive trip brought us to one of the paradise in the northern part of the province — Bantayan Island.

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Get to know Bantayan Island:

Tucked in the west part of the northern Cebu, Bantayan Island is an island group that consists of small islets mostly uninhabited.  Bantayan is the largest island of the group. The towns of Sta. Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan lie here, too.
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Welcome to paradise!

 How to get there:

  • From Cebu, you can take a bus or a van bound for Hagnaya Port from the North Bus Terminal. Depending on what bus you’re riding, the fare is around Php160-180.
  • Secure a ferry ticket from Hagnaya Port (Php180) and pay the terminal fee (Php10). NOTE: If you are bringing your pets with you, don’t forget to get a local transport permit for them. No permit, no transport.)
  • Once you arrive in the port of Sta Fe, you can ride a tricycle to your preferred hostel. Some hostels arrange transport and tour, you may inquire from your host.
  • You can rent a bicycle or a motorcycle to tour the island. There are also motorcycles that offer land tours.

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Our summer story in Bantayan Island:

Our trip to Bantayan Island was unplanned. One day before our departure, Bantayan island never crossed our minds. Ace and I, in fact, were thinking of spending the weekend doing the laundry. It was around 8 pm on Friday when Niña and I talked about going there together. Without any second thought, I agreed. My class finished at 10:30 pm. Niña said we were departing at 3 am which was only a few hours away. Since it was an unexpected outing, we didn’t have Elliot’s transport permit. We had no choice but to leave him in my sister’s care.

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We arrived at Hagnaya Port and had our breakfast while waiting for Niña’s sister who lives in San Remigio. They arrived a little late, it was already 9:30 when we took a ferry to the island. Upon arrival, we wasted no time and immediately took a tricycle to Sta Fe Guest House which was our home for 2 days. Our friendly host greeted us at the gate. I like how our hostel is located just a few minutes away from the marketplace and few steps away from the beach.

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Lunch at Big Jel’s Restomeat.
The same tricycle picked us up at 1 pm for a land tour. Our first stop was Big Jel’s Restomeat for lunch. Ace and I personally suggest you try eating here because aside from the big serving, their food is delicious and affordable.

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After filling up our tummies, we headed to Oboob Mangrove Garden, also known as the OMAGIECA (Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association)It aims to raise awareness about the importance of mangroves and the role it plays in the ecosystem. The mangroves serve as the home of different underwater species.

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Ace and Demi at Oboob Mangrove Garden.

This mangrove garden has an entrance fee of Php50 for adults and Php20 for kids. They also have this big sign showing where the entrance fee go. Now, that’s what you call transparency.

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When the tide is high, you can tour the area by kayaking. We, on the other hand, chose to walk into the bamboo boardwalk.

Few meters from the entrance, there is a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and refreshments.

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Ace and Demi in Oboob Mangrove Garden.
The kids bought some fish food in a small store along the way. We rested in the bamboo hut while watching them feeding the fish.

We also climbed the makeshift bamboo tower to see the entire mangrove garden from above. Only 3 people are allowed to climb at once for safety purposes. Because many visitors lined up to climb the tower, you can’t stay there for more than 5 minutes.

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Ace and Demi
Soon after we explored the place, we headed to our next stop — the Paradise Beach. It was supposed a secluded beach area but due to the influx of tourist, the place became crowded.

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Niña is enjoying the sun, the sand and the waves. 

 

But that didn’t make the place less of a paradise. The long strip of powdery white sand was worth its name. The beach has the finest sand we have seen.

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Ace at the diving cliff. 
Our next stop was the Diving Cliff near a building ruin. Niña and I were eager to jump in the cliff. Yet, our spirits hid somewhere upon seeing how deep and high it was.

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The Ruin is completely ruined. 
We were supposed to drop by Ogtong Cave in Sta Fe Beach Club, but we agreed to skip it and went to the market to buy some provisions for dinner.

Everybody was tired, especially Ace, Niña and I because we didn’t have enough sleep. (It’s right to say, we didn’t have sleep at all.) We scheduled an island hopping the next day, so we decided to call it a day.

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Stay tuned for the story of our Virgin Island adventure!

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.