A Quick Escape to Kinatarcan Island.

The past two years have been filled with anxiety and despair. We wake up every day in fear. We’ve known ever since that tomorrow is always uncertain, but this pandemic brought a different kind of uncertainty. A sad reality. And we fear for everything. We all are.
But know that this will be over soon, and if not, we can always start a ‘new normal’ way to live and survive. Hang in there!

With the ‘new normal’ way of life in mind, let’s start our travel story.

Staying at home during this pandemic is always the best thing to do. We couldn’t argue with that. But after a year of being at home every day, Ace and I couldn’t help but feel excited when the government lifted the local travel ban in selected areas in the country. With new travel protocols to keep the spread of COVID, tourist destinations have opened their doors again.

The hubby and I decided to have our first trip ever since the pandemic on an island that we’ve been lusting since Carnaza Kinatarcan Island. Because why not? What better way to get a breather during this time?

Ace and Demi in Kinatarcan Island.

Kinatarcan Island, also known as Guintacan to some, is tucked in Cebu’s northern coast. This rocky island is within the municipality of Sta Fe and comprises three barangays: Langub, Hagdan, and Kinatarkan. Although a part of Sta Fe, this island is more accessible from Daanbantayan if you come from mainland Cebu. It hasn’t been long since the name Kinatarcan Island surfaced as a potential tourist destination. Probably because visitors are more likely drawn to established tourist stops like Virgin Islands and Malapascua.


Needless to say, Kinatarcan has an unspoiled beauty. And we all know I’m a sucker for a laidback island vibe. So off we go to celebrate my birthday and our 5th wedding anniversary.

Check out Chad Motorcycle Rentals on Facebook

To make the trip more fun, we decided to bring our own ride to the island. We rented a motorcycle from our friend who owns a motorcycle rental business, so we don’t have to hire a guide nor rent one to tour the island. And to be honest, it was a brilliant idea. It was economical, plus we got to skip the long bus ride from Cebu City to Daanbantayan.

We arrived in Daanbantayan at exactly 6:30am, since we were told that passenger boats to Kinatarcan usually leave at 7:00am every day. And guess what? Scam! When we got to Mahayay port, it was empty except for some peddlers hustling early to make a living. One guy approached us and asked if we were bound to Kinatarcan. He said we had to wait until 9:00am for the boat to arrive from the island. Then it would depart from the mainland at 11:00am (sometimes 1:00 pm) depending on how many passengers were on board.

Yes, it was quite a long wait but we didn’t mind. It was actually nothing compared to waiting for more than a year for this chance to travel again, yeah?

So while waiting, we decided to grab a bite first and look for a place to chill and relax. The municipality of Daanbantayan is known for its beautiful resorts. In fact, it is known to be home to luxurious resorts in Cebu like Kandaya Resort, Golden Great Sands, to name a few. But we didn’t need that kind of luxury at that time. We only needed somewhere to chill while waiting. Since Daanbantayan lies near the coastline, it isn’t hard to find an inexpensive place. In fact, with only a 5-peso entrance fee, we stumbled Hapa-Hapa Beach in barangay Agujo. It has a long stretch of powdery sand and is a great place to relax.

Mornings in Daanbantayan.

At 11:00am, we were already back at the port. The scene was very different from the morning earlier. The port was livelier with hurry passengers, busy porters helping carry and load groceries and provisions, and boatmen having snacks in the nearby store. One boatman approached us and led us to their boat. They also took care of loading our motorcycle. Despite the challenge due to the wave, our boatmen successfully loaded it on.

Since it was a Friday, passengers were scarce because many available boats were plying to the island, so we had to wait for another hour. We got the chance to talk to the crews about how the pandemic affected their income source. Although there were no travel restrictions to the island, mainland Cebu had stricter quarantine restrictions. Tourism came to a halt. On their daily trip, they could only take home 60 pesos a day. Only when their boat is hired privately, they’d get as much as 300 to 600 pesos for the day. When there is no trip, they rely on fishing to feed their families. So it was good news when they learned that restrictions were eased.

The travel from Mahayay port to the island took an hour. Our boat dropped us off at Pasil beach. A long strip of white sand greeted us as soon as we set foot. What a way to welcome us and feed our appetite for fun!

Pasil Beach

There were motorcycle drivers who were waiting for passengers when we arrived. When they realized that we brought our own ride, they offered to guide us to where we were staying. Since it is a small island, everybody seems to know everyone. They pointed us the way to Forest Beach. Although I already expected the owner’s son to meet us at the port, he wasn’t there yet. The cellphone signal was intermittent on the island, so we decided to just drive to Forest Beach ourselves. Along the way, we bumped into the owner’s son, Prince, who instantly recognized us. (Told you they know everyone on the island.) He signaled and led us the way.

Mantao’s Guesthouse

Our home for the night was Mantao’s family guesthouse which they converted into a four-room transient accommodation. The cost is only 300 pesos per head, with water and light. Their kitchen is also open if you want to cook (which I suggest you do because there are no restaurants in the area). Forest Beach is across the road, owned by the same family. It is literally a forest that lies on the edge of a cliff. The place is a perfect spot to catch the sunset. If the tide is high, you can try cliff-jumping here.

It was already two o’clock when we had finally settled, freshened up and hungry. We agreed to start driving around the island and maybe find something to eat on the way. We had already researched the tops spots to visit on the island, so we only had to ask the locals the way.


Our first stop was Laaw Cove and Lagoon. There is a registration area near the entrance, and you will be provided a tour guide to explore the area. The lagoon is home to delicious seaweed called ‘lato‘ (Caulerpa lentillifera) — a local food usually served as an appetizer by only mixing it with vinegar, salt, and some spices. Because they have to preserve the area, swimming here is prohibited. Laaw Cove is on the other side of the cliff fronting the Visayan sea. The scene somehow reminded me of the Twin Lagoon in Coron, only this one is smaller.

Laaw Cove

Above the umbrageous lagoon is a picturesque spot they called Tamboan ni Leon or the Coral Cliff. It flaunts a panoramic view of the Visayan sea and a glimpse of the stunning cliffs of the island on the side. It was a perfect spot for “buwis-buhay-for-the-gram” shots.

Coral Cliff or Tamboan ni Leon

It was quite an up and down trek that I had to slug a 500ml of water as soon as we got back to the registration area. But it was worth the sweat. Our guide told us everything there is to know about the conservation of the lagoon.

Overlooking Hagdan Beach from the stairway.

Our next stop is Hagdan Beach. Hagdan means stairway, and yes, we had to take the 110-step stair to get to the beach. We came to a few locals mending their fishing boats and some kids enjoying a swim. Life seemed very slow-paced here. It was peaceful, so laidback, made me want to sit down and wait for time to fly. But as much as I wanted to do that, we didn’t stay there for long because we still had one last stop before the sunset.

Hagdan Beach.

Our last stop before heading back to Forest Beach was Byaring Cliff. We had to take a 5-minute walk through thick foliage to get to there. The view from the cliff was stunning. It reminded me of an islet we visited in Dinagat Islands. The sun was already setting when we got there, so we decided not to go down. We left after a few snaps.

Byaring Cliff

Wanting to catch the sunset in Forest Beach, we hurried our way back. Luckily, we were just in time. Oh, magnificent! Every time I see the sun setting, my heart always feels at ease. There is something with the sunset that calms me. It always puts me in peace.

Sunset view at Forest Beach.

Ace and I stayed there for a while. We took a dip in the water and waited ’til dark, and had a deep conversation until dark. I found it funny because, since the pandemic, we have been together every single day, but we never discuss serious things anymore. This is why we think going on out-of-town trips is very important, especially for married couples. Because there are matters that we don’t discuss, or perhaps, these thoughts simply won’t come into our mind when we are in the comforts of our home. When Ace and I are out like this, we get to pause and reflect deeper on things.

After having enough swim and drama, we went back to our room and prepared for dinner. We drove around the neighborhood to find something to eat. We saw a barbeque stall few meters away from the place where we stayed. Unfortunately, they didn’t have rice. (But rice is life!) So we decided to just cook our own.

Tired after a long day, we decided to hit the hay early. We wanted to spend another day on the island, but I remembered it was my dad’s birthday, plus it was Father’s day. So the next day, after coffee, we packed our bags and headed back to Cebu.

Our trip to Kinatarcan was indeed brief and fleeting. We have yet to discover the nooks of the island. That’s fine. We are saving it for next time.

See you next time!

Keep safe!

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Udlom Falls in Pinamungahan | A Wonderful Place to Loosen Up

Because a waterfall is a reminder that falling doesn’t always have to hurt.

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I always love capping off my adventures with a glimpse of sunset, a dip in a river or a feel of the mist of a waterfall. It gives me the feeling of fulfillment. It is somewhat a reward to myself for a job well done on that day. It’s like a dessert that completes my meal.

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Udlom Falls

Our spelunking adventure in Toledo City ended with a wonderful surprise. Everybody agreed to proceed to Udlom Peak in Pinamungahan to catch the sunset since it was too early to call it a day. Well, that’s where Niña and I thought we were going. We didn’t have any idea about Udlom Falls

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From the camping site of Lapos-Lapos Cave, we crossed another mountain to go to the main road. We passed by a canopy of mahogany trees that reminded us of the infamous Spartan Trail. Then we reached the main road going to Pinamungahan.

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We agreed to take a hike instead of riding a motorcycle since it was early anyway. But we never thought it would take us more than 7 kilometers to reach the waterfall. The distance didn’t really bother us but the long downhill path did. It was very straining to the legs. I hate downhill walks especially on concrete roads. You put too much weight on your lower limbs.

As it was said, nothing lasts forever.

Eventually, we arrived at Hidden Valley Mountain Resort where we took a breather in a store outside. After a short while, we resumed our hike and took a turn in a narrow path between households. Niña and I were too busy talking that we didn’t know some kids were guiding us. We only noticed the two of them followed us when we got left behind. The two kids served us the ‘tail-guides’. Thanks to them, we were able to catch up with the rest of the group.

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Since we didn’t know that we were going to the waterfall, Niña and I were surprised to hear the cascade few meters away. Although we weren’t sure we were really going that way, we were both excited. After a few more steps, we caught a glimpse of the waterfall and it confirmed our guess that we were actually heading there. We heard giggles coming from the base, so we paced hurriedly.

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We saw our friends happily taking photos of the beautiful water plunge near the basin. I didn’t come near right away because I was still catching my breath. I sat on a rock near me as I admired the falls’ height and beauty. The strong pressure of the water that falls into the bedrock created a mist that cooled down our tired bodies.

Oh, what a wonderful feeling it was to sit down in front of the waterfall while its mist massaged not only my body but also my inner core. The sound of the water as it fell into the basin was very refreshing.

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Not too long, Sir Aldrich invited us to come nearer so we can take a group photo. After that, we took a rest while waiting for the time. Instead of going to Udlom Peak to catch the sunset, we agreed to conclude our day in the falls and head home afterward.

I went home that day feeling absolutely satisfied. I just had a great and fulfilling day with wonderful people. Udlom Falls was a delightful bonus to cap off our day.

 

Let us hear from you. How do you cap off your adventures?

 

‘Til next time!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

Solo Travel is Not For Me.

Squad traveling is all over the web nowadays, so is solo traveling. I have few friends who choose to travel alone while some prefer to travel in a group. Solo traveling can be a great way to explore the world at the same time, discover more about oneself. Personally, it’s not my cup of tea. But I hugely respect people who can do it and choose to do it in spite of the daunting cons. I really admire their courage and determination.

Some travelers, especially women pride themselves on doing things on their own. But I don’t like the impression of putting solo travel on a pedestal above all other travels. Common, there is nothing wrong with traveling with someone or in a group. Solo travel may work for some but not for other people like me. After all, we have different choices.

While traveling solo is great and challenging, I don’t like jaunting on my own.

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I’m not totally against solo trips. I am fully aware of the many pros of traveling alone. I’ve had few solo trips before I got married. They were mostly just for proving something to myself that somehow I can survive on my own. They were fun and self-fulfilling but at the end of the day, I wished someone was there to talk about how fun the day was, I wished someone was there to enjoy that beautiful sunset with me. So, when Ace came into my life, I was very glad to find a lifetime travel buddy.

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Here are some reasons why I don’t like traveling alone.

  • I get lonely.

    I get lonely when traveling for long hours on a bus, how much more traveling for a day on a ferry. I hate eating in a restaurant alone, especially while waiting for my food. Imagine people looking at me with pity because I am alone while I pretend to be busy with my phone. That is awkward, you know. Watching the sunset and sunrise alone brings so many realizations and thoughts, at the same time, it makes me feel empty and well, “alone”, especially when surrounded with couples romantically enjoying the moment.

  •  It’s hard to make friends.

    Don’t get me started on “you can always make friends”. I know, but it’s easier said than done. Sometimes, it can be pretty exhausting. Although some circumstances could lead me to make friends – which is great, however, it does not go like that most of the time. Plus it’s hard to make friends especially if you have trust issues. 😀

  • I am reckless.

    I tend to easily forget things. Like one time, I was about to have lunch from a tour and realized I left my wallet in the hotel, so I had to ask my guide to pay for me, please. That’s embarrassing.

  • I’m poor with directions.

    This may sound funny and stupid. I can’t read a map. It’ll probably take me 30 minutes to an hour before I figure it out. Taking a wrong turn alone is so not fun. But getting lost with someone or with your gang is an adventure.

  •  Safety issues.

    One thing I’m concerned about when traveling solo is safety, both myself and my things. When you travel alone, most especially if you are a woman, you are a potential victim of dangerous misfortunes. (I’m not belittling the girl-power, I’m just being true to myself.) It’s not impossible for me to be murdered without anyone else knowing. Solo travel also means dragging all of my bags into the toilet with me when I’m in a public place like airport or terminals.

  • A memory card of “selfie”.

    Who does not love a decent picture of yourself with the beautiful background? I mean, yeah, I can take photos of the place as a remembrance, but I also would love to see myself on it. So either I take awkward selfies or keep asking complete strangers to take a photo of me.

 

I don’t deny the good things my solo travels have done to me. I’m actually enjoying its benefits until now. I’m glad I was able to do it before. It made me grow, made me become independent and made me discover myself more. If I would have to do it again, I will do it the same way.

It’s just that, things have changed now. After traveling with my friends or with Ace, I realized that I have more fun in their company than with myself alone.

Would I travel solo again? 

Yes, probably. I can’t tell. Perhaps, time will ask me to find myself again. Maybe, I will miss my own company in the future. I don’t know. For now, I don’t long for that yet. Not yet.

 

How about you? Do you prefer to travel alone or to travel with someone? Let me hear from you. 🙂

 

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucas Grande Island & Sohoton Bay | Part 1

Let me start this post with an aerial photo of Bucas Grande Islands which would surely ignite every itchy feet’s curiosity.

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Photo credit to the owner. (Source)

We know it’s a cliche, everyone says to lower our expectations. But, could you blame us for expecting too much? Photos posted on Facebook , Instagram, and other social media sites spell HIGH EXPECTATION.

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We already had posted a photo diary about of Surigao experience here. An invite from a good friend brought us to the beautiful City of Island Adventures and gave us the chance to experience a non-stop island hopping. 😀

So, how was our Bucas Grande Islands and Sohoton Bay experience?

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Port of Hayanggabon.

It was already 7:00am when we arrived in Surigao. A van picked us up to bring us to the Port of Hayanggabon where our Bucas Grande Island adventure awaited. We dropped by our host’s house to leave some of our belongings and immediately resumed our journey for the day.

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Our boat.

At the port, a medium-sized motorized boat waited for us. We quickly get on the boat and had our breakfast on board. We were very busy filling our hungry tummies, without knowing, we were already in the middle of Sohoton Bay.

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Sohoton Bay

Our major tour for the day was Sohoton Cove National Park. Since it was still a high tide, our boatmen toured us to other islands around Sohoton Bay. Our first stop is the Crystal and Bolitas Cave.

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The Gang.

Unfortunately, I did not have a decent photo inside the cave. But just a heads up, Crystal Cave is a huge cavern with stalagmites and stalactites shining like crystals while Bolitas Cave got its name from the strange rock formations inside that resembles to that of a pellet. (Here’s a perfect post that best describes what I’m trying to say.)

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A boat-shaped rock.

After we explored the two caves and done our photo-ops, we hopped back to our boat to explore another island. As our boatmen expertly maneuvered our boat avoiding the shallow water, we noticed this boat-like rock which is perfectly shaped by time. Look how amazing nature is!

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After a few minutes, we were in front of another island. It was fronting a cliff and it looked like a developed resort. We agreed not to drop there and just find another place where we can grill our fish for lunch so we won’t run out of time.

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Demi basking under the sun.

Our boatmen brought us to this nearly isolated islet. We saw a small hut when we were about to dock our boat. We learned that the hut was for the caretaker of the island but no one was around except the two kind big dogs. But not too long, a small banca arrived and we reckoned he was the said caretaker because the dogs greeted him sweetly.

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He was very kind and told us that he lives alone in this part of the island but there are frequent visitors who drop by, too.

For a while, we had the whole island for ourselves. While some of us prepared our food, others were having a great time exploring the island, taking Instagram worthy photos. I couldn’t help sharing this photo below that best describes how ‘struggle was real’ just to show that beautiful photos on Facebook and IG. 😀

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Behind the scenes.

SOhoton Behind The scene
Behind the scenes.

😀 Anyway, after our lunch and that crazy photo-ops, another group of visitors were headed to our spot. We decided to pack up and gave them the chance to enjoy the place like we did.

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Next stop, Sohoton Cove National Park. But I will save that on the later post. 😀 So, kindly stay tuned for that.

Part II of our adventure here: Sohoton Cove: Beyond Mysteries

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Ace and Demi enjoying the white beach in an island of Bucas Grande.

We hope you enjoyed our Bucas Grande Island and Sohoton Bay photo diary.

 

‘Til our next story.

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

A Photo Diary | How Surigao Swept Off Our Feet.

Don’t listen to what they say. Go see it!!!

Our first week of May was worthily spent in SURIGAO along with new awesome friends. The place was in our bucket list but we did not expect to visit it it soon. Somehow, blessings made our way to the City of Island Adventures. (And this marked our first venture outside the Visayas region.)

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An old friend invited us to visit her hometown. It so happen that Ace and I had plans to go to Negros and Bantayan Islands but the enticing places in Surigao made us change our minds.

I must say, we had made the BEST decision ever.

Surigao swept us off our feet since the first day and all throughout our sojourn. From the amazing fjord of Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove, the untouched islets of Dinagat Islands, the awe-inspiring sight of Tinuy-an Falls, to the beguiling beauty of Enchanted River — everything went beyond our expectations.

Here’s a photo diary that will show you how the City of Island Adventures made us fall inlove.

How would you like to build your house in an island overlooking other tiny islets and the cerulean sea?

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A stunning vista of the islets from an abandoned rest house in Dinagat Islands.

Or maybe have the island all by yourself?

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Another picturesque spot on the other side of the abandoned rest house.

When you have the fine sand, the calm sea and a wonderful… body? (Excuse me!)

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The fine sandbar in one of the islets of Dinagat Islands. (Duyos Beach)

That Palawan dream… Surigao made it happen. 😀

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A rock formation that serves as home of some Kalaw birds or the Philippine Hornbills in another Dinagat Islands’ islet. (Kabukungan Islet.)

Entered a new world through Bucas Grande and got lost with the confusing inlets. Explored the hidden gems of Sohoton from caves to coves.

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A fjord to Bucas Grande.

Saw amazing rock formations that we’ve never seen before and heard folklores from a local tourist guide.

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Unique rock wall in Sohoton Cove.

Plunged and communed with nature. Or chose to swim with thousands of stingless jellyfish.

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Dipping in the water surrounded by stingless jellyfish.

Ticked off the widest waterfall in the country from our bucket list.

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A fascinating sight of the country’s widest waterfall — Tinuy-an Falls. (The 2nd tier.)

Chased the cascades of this multi-tiered waterfalls. And treated ourselves with a massage from the water curtain.

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The cascades of Tinuy-an’s first tier.

Dabbed a ‘squadgoal pose’ with the gang.

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Squad goals? Yeah, not without this pose. 😀

And stroke more squadgoal poses…. 😀

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Squad pose with Tinuy-an Falls’ stamp.

Admired the mystifying beauty of Hinatuan’s Enchanted River.

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A vibrant scene of Hinatuan’s Enchanted River. Simply enchanting.

Repleted our eyes as we stared at the enchanting river to our hearts’ content. Also enjoyed swimming and going with the river flow.

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Staring at the water to her heart’s content.

Whilst our fleeting stay in Surigao we couldn’t help but  DECLARE to come back for more, soon. The city surely has more gems yet to be discovered.

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Thank you for the wonderful experience Surigao. ’til our next visit on your land.

Cheers!

With love, Ace and Demi

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

Coal Mountain Resort | Bringing You Back To Nature

Let’s wander where the WIFI is weak or where there’s no SIGNAL at all. 

While everybody’s planning for a beach getaway, we, on the otherhand, found ourselves in the middle of the woods, surounded  by mountains, hearing the music not everybody can hear. We’re going back to nature!

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Ace and Demi Coal Mountain Resort Story

Who would have thought a place which was used as a grazing ground for carabaos could give us a total relaxation away from chaotic life in the city? In the outskirts of Argao, lies this wondrous haven called Coal Mountain Resort, a perfect place for those who wanted retreat from the bustling metropolis.

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Find Demi.

The hubby and I had our post-Valentine celebration (we just need some reason to getaway, you know) in this haven. I was very excited that I booked a room more than a week ahead. Well, I think that was just right because when I called, most rooms were already booked and there were only two deluxe rooms left. The staff whom I talked to said the resort is usually full on weekends especially the family and group rooms. So yah, I suggest to book your rooms ahead.

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Deluxe rooms.

Our one hour  butt-aching motorcycle ride was totally worth it. Admittedly though, when we arrived at the resort, I was kind of “disappointed” as there was no wonderful decoration that would make anybody curious and interested to see what’s inside. The look from the outside was very simple and straightforward.

But, see “never judge a resort by its gate”. 😀

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The resort’s viewing deck.

Yet, when we went inside I felt euphoric as I ran towards their viewing deck. It offers a panoramic view of the lush greeneries of the mountains that surrounds the resorts, some of which are part of Dalaguete mountain range. Not to mention the invigorating mountain air, I felt like we were transported to a different world.

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Imagine waking up to this view.

I was very excited to roam around to see what other wonders the resort has to offer. So, right after we threw our bags inside the room, I immediately went to explore the place. Look at this wonderful view from our room, don’t you want to wake up everyday for this?

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Morning view from our room.

It’s wonderful how the resort mainted its homey environment. It so much felt like I was having a vacation in my grandparent’s house in the countryside. Oh, I could live like this forever.

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Stairs to the deluxe rooms.

The resort has three swimming pools, all are fed by free-flowing spring water. But you have to go through the woods to reach the third pool which was the deepest, too.

The first pool is 4ft deep. It is mango-shaped, by the way. It also has a slide for kids or for those who are kids at heart.

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Four-feet pool.

Just when you thought you lost your heart, then you realized it’s in the resort. “Buti pa sa Coal Mountain, may heart.” 😛 Behold, the pool with a heart, er, heart shape. The second pool is 7ft deep. There’s a jumping platform if you want to plunk.

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The pool with a heart, seven-feet deep.

The third pool is the deepest. Imagine 16ft deep. I bet one couldn’t swim more than 15 minutes here because it’s just sooooooo cold. The hubby and I are into cold springs but this is the coldest one that we’d been to so far. I did not reach 5 minutes swimming here because my nerves were already freezing. There is also a diving platform on this pool that rises up to 30ft high. Perfect for “buwis-buhay” exhibition.

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The deepest pool, 16ft.

You have to walk through this canopy walkway in the middle of the woods. It’s quite scary because it was slippery and the steps looked weak. But duh, get that fear out of your system and step carefully. I didn’t expect the hanging bridge to be that far, I honestly felt dizzy before we get to the end of it.

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Canopy walk.

The resort also offered a mining demo which includes exploration of a mining tunnel. It was drizzling during our visit, the soil was wet and muddy, so the hubby decided that we go on full gear with the overall, boots and helmet. But you can opt to just have the helmet and boots if you are not comfortable with the overall. We suggest you try this one. Let’s get to work!

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Ace and Demi, off to work!

Now, get ready to explore the tunnel that stretches up to 145 meters long and 70 feet below the ground. I swear I was anxious while we were still at the entrance of the tunnel. Seeing the dark and narrow hole, I felt like it’s going to swallow me anytime. But the hubby and the guide were so assuring that I was persuaded to continue.

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I’m not scared. Really not scared. 😛

I can’t tell how happy I was when we were about to exit the tunnel. It was an achievement. Along with that fullfillment was a realization. A miners’ life is no easy. The danger while staying several feet below the ground is already something to be scared of, not to mention stooping for hours. But yeah, I did it!

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Ahhh, I did it!

The one thing I loved during our stay in Coal Mountain Resort was the fact that we were so far from the civilization. Our smartphones were not getting any signals in the area. If not because of the camera, we wouldn’t be using our phones during our entire stay in the resort. It was another perfect moment for the hubby and me to talk about us, our life. At night, we stayed at the balcony and gazed at the stars in the sky while we contemplated about mundane affairs.

And oh, for the first time in a long time I saw fireflies coming near me. It’s rare to see them in the cities.

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Chilling.

It was a healing moment — staying outside the room, breathing fresh air and only hearing the sound of the crickets and the night owls. I felt like I was brought back to nature, to the time when there were only trees, water and air.

Our lungs had their dose of cleansing and our eyes were pampered by the green healthy surrounding. We felt so healthy during our two days stay in the resort.

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Ace and Demi are summer ready!!!

We hope you enjoyed our Coal Mountain Resort story. We’d love to hear yours, too. 😀

Stay tuned for our Coal Mountain Resort travel guide in a later post. 

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.

 

 

 

Taste of Spain in Argao, Cebu

We couldn’t seem to get enough of the towns in the southern part of Cebu. After that South Cebu Tour we had last year, we thought we’ll have to give North Cebu its time to shine. But that time has not come yet. There’s still so much more to South Cebu that we couldn’t move on.

Last February, the hubby and I celebrated our Valentine’s Day in Coal Mountain Resort in Argao, Cebu. But I’ll talk about that in a later post. For now, let’s see what Argao has in store for us.

Half of our second day in this municipality was spent walking in the town proper. It’s amazing how Argao managed to keep the Spanish flavor around.

  • Cabecera de Argao

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Argao, Cebu

Just a minute or two walk from the main road, the town hides the remnants of the Spanish era, from the church to the government buildings.

  • Saint Michael, the Archangel Parish

Our first stop was the 200-year old church of Saint Michael, the Archangel.

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Ace and Demi in Argao, Cebu

Just like most churches in Southern Cebu, this church walls are also made from coral stones. The facade contains articulate carvings depicting the patron saint displayed on its niche. There are urn-like finials flanked at each corner of the pediment. It’s great that they have preserved this old structure.

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The interior.

You should not miss checking the interior of the parish, too. The ceiling immediately caught our attention because of the colorful painting that depicts that archangel’s life. We did not have the chance to check the altar because it was under rennovation.

  • The Hall of Justice.

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Argao’s Hall of Justice.

Second stop, was the town’s Hall of Justice.  One of the edifice in the town that shows evident Spanish taste. This served as military barracks during the old times but now functions as the Hall of Justice.

  • Torta, Argao’s delicacy.   

Have you tasted that delish sweet flatbread called “torta“? How was it? If you think it wasn’t delicious then you have not tasted Argao’s torta. 🙂

I say, “Torta is Argao, and Argao is Torta!”

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Home of delish tortas.

When you visit the town, don’t you dare miss this delish delicacy. Argao is known for its homemade tortas that are traditionally baked in a clay oven and they use tuba (coconut wine) as the leavening agent. They said “with time, it gets tastier” or “magkadugay, magkalami“. Hmmm? I ate mine after two weeks, I say they’re right. 🙂

  • Nature Park.

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Argao’s nature park. 

The town also has a nature park where you can relax and think about your existence. (Kidding.) They offer canoing for only Php10. You can have a picnic or try their wall climbing, too. The park has an entrance of Php5.

Personal rambling:

Our short jaunt in the town proper brought to us a Spanish flavor. Despite the pain the era had caused us, it’s nice to know how we are so forgiving, how we showed importance to its legacy. It would be easy to move on from the Spanish colony by destroying everything that reminds us of that time, but we chose not to. Because these…these things is a constant reminder of how our great grandparents fought for our freedom. A constant reminder that we have to take care of this sovereignty we have now. A constant reminder that we had been a slave once and we should not go back to being one anymore. 🙂

We hope you enjoyed our virtual diary about Argao.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

Discover Catmon | Chasing Waterfalls and Trekking Rivers

The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. ~~ Roald Dahl

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Tinubdan Falls, Catmon

Catmon, Cebu — home of Cebu’s second highest peak, Mt Kapayas. Despite being flocked by outdoor enthusiasts and the like, this town remained self-effacing and humble. And lately, with people’s never ending quest of discovering wonderful places to visit, Catmon, in all fairness has another reason to boast.

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Behind the tall mountains of the municipality hides a wonderful haven full of nature’s bliss. A mysterious river slithers through the valleys of the town and divided it into the Old Catmon and New Catmon.

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This place is not known to many people not even to most locals. Some of them knew the place but never dared to visit it because of the creepy stories that circulates around the town. Not even the kids in the area are fond to play in this river.

Rumors have it that there were mysterious disappearances in the area. Sometimes, locals nearby hear uproarious sounds coming from the river but there are no people around. Our guide forwarned us to leave the river before 5:00pm to avoid any untoward circumstances.

Hmm? That sounds really creepy!

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We trekked for about five minutes before we caught a glimpse of this beguiling watercourse. Just the sound of the water cascades was already inviting. As if nature’s telling us to leave the worries behind and commune with her. And that, my friends, we couldn’t resist. Before we knew it, our feet were already in the water and we’re ready to plunge into an unknowingly great adventure.

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There’s something with rivers that we like so much. We love the beach but we always long for the streams.

It gives us the thought that life is indeed like a river. It keeps flowing.

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Ace and his emotion.

There are times that life is calm and peaceful. Times when life is steady, just the way you like it to, like nothing wrong could come its way. The water maybe placid but it is vulnerable. This tranquility won’t stay that way.  

 

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Struggle pa more!

Sometimes, this life could be harsh that you struggle and fluctuate. The flow could be strong that it could drown you, that it could wash you away forcing you to leave your comfort zone. These times will come when you least expect it, it’d slap you on your face and you couldn’t do anything to stop it.  

 

 

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Kapit lang, bes!

Yes, you’ll have a lot of struggle, a lot of holding on, a lot of letting go, too. But one thing is for sure, all of these things will lead you to a better place. All of these struggles will lead you to something great. Really great that you also did not expect it. 

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Tinubdan Falls

Yay!!! I couldn’t believe I just wrote that. hahah

Let’s get back to reality, everybody. 😀 And after that musing, Tinubdan Falls finally! Look at that isn’t that worth our struggles? Waterfalls everywhere.

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Ace and Demi cheesy moments. 

Hubby and I were very astounded. Tinubdan Falls is not as tall as the waterfalls in the Southern part of Cebu, but it’s stunning just the way it is. It’s unique in its own way. Albeit its height, it would never disappoint you.

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We also learned that during the Second World War, this place was developed by the Americans in order to supply electricity for their camp at combat in Agsuwao, Catmon. However, there were no trace of that.

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River trekking in Catmon.

We saw more mini falls as we continued trekking downstream. We climbed more rock boulders along the way which tested our balancing skills. It was one great adventure indeed!

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Ace and Demi trekked Catmon river.

Before we conclude this post, I’d like to mention few wonderful friends we met during this jaunt. Nhagz of Nhagzventures, who invited us to join this trip, Padz Lai of The Little Lai: Beyond Limits, and Gly of Chasing Potatoes. We look forward to having more adventures with you. Until next time. 🙂

 

What is life but one great adventure!

P.S  We had a wonderful time in this place and would love to come back again. Let’s help keep this place the way it is. Practice responsible tourism. LEAVE NO TRACE

Until our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi