Taken on August 10, 2013, at Bangui, Ilocos Norte.
August 10, 2013.
Planning to run from the first wind turbine until the 20th. We started from the Pagudpud town proper and ran to Bangui town. In one of the barangays in Bangui, a local pointed us to a small road leading to the beach where the wind turbines were.
10km down, first wind turbine down, Paolo down, Jean down. We ran out of water, no stores in sight. The heat was cruel. The sand and the beach pebbles made it harder to run.
There were grasses and vines on one side, beach pebbles and the sea on the other side. In between is a wide stretch of gray sand, and wind turbines around 200 meters apart. The shadow of the wind turbines is a big relief from the heat. You could also try swimming on the sea if you want to be refreshed. The water was clear and clean, you could see the pebbles beneath it. Walking on the pebbled part, you could feel the cold wind from the sea on your one arm, and hot wind from the sand on the other arm.
Eat we must, drink we must. After some rest and moments of marvelling at the gigantic structures, we headed back to civilization. So long wind turbines! :D
By the third day (June 19, 2013) of our El Nido vacation, I was running out of courage to go out into the rough seas and stormy weather. 2 typhoons and Habagat season, how could this be more exciting? Kuya Rodrigo, our tour contact, was reassuring as always, and we, fools and eager as always, went ahead. This time around, my mindset was that whatever is bound to happen, it will happen. And as long as I’m wearing a life jacket, I’ll live. :D
Tour A’s main destination is Miniloc Island.
First stop is the Secret Lagoon. This was the scariest ride of the entire tour because we were going to the southern part of the Miniloc island, and we will be exposed to wind coming from the South China Sea. Going to the Secret Lagoon, we had to dock into a small beach amidst the limestones, and same as all the beaches in El Nido, the beach was white and a piece of paradise. :)
In those limestones, there is a small hole which leads to a calm lagoon. The hole is about a meter in diameter, and is not easily visible especially during high tide. You have to be careful when going inside, the rocks are slippery and the waves can throw you off balance.
This is how it looks like on the inside. The lagoon is small, the size of a badminton court maybe. The water is cold, knee-deep. There are cracks and plants hanging on the limestones, and I couldn’t help thinking that a snake would suddenly come out of those cracks and eat us. I also can’t help thinking the sea water might rise anytime soon and we might get trapped inside the lagoon, so I hurriedly went out the small entrance and back into the safer beach. See, I was paranoid the whole time. :(
After our lunch, the weather just got worse, and slowly the small island in front of the beach faded until it wasn’t visible anymore. I just want to stay on the island and never venture into that sea again.
The boatmen also said we would wait till the rain and wind calm down a little, but when he realized the weather was only getting worse, we had no choice but to try slowly crossing to the other island. It was during this ride that I saw the other boatmen wore life-vests and ran from one side of the boat to the other to try and bring the boat to a balance position again every time big waves hit us. The strong and cold wind wasn’t helping my already shaking body. It was scary. :( But I also remember thinking a bit clearer and swinging to the opposite direction, as if my weight could also bring balance. I checked on Paolo, he was trying to stay calm, and I was trying to stay alert in case we had to jump or move to the other side of the boat or whatever needs to be done. My adrenaline was keeping me alert and prepared. So that when we safely arrived on the sheltered part of Shimizu Island, I almost cried while everyone cheered. :(
Shimizu Island offers fish-feeding activities. There were lots of sergeantfish when we swam around the boat, but the current was too strong, and I was still recovering from the previous boat ride so I wasn’t able to enjoy the swim.
Next stop is the Big Lagoon. By the time we got there, it was almost low-tide so our boat wasn’t able to go inside the lagoon. We just walked the shallow and long entrance to the lagoon, and we were surprised to see clown fishes in knee-deep water.
Next is the Small Lagoon, located on the northern part of the island. When we arrived on the entrance to the lagoon, we saw big corals and colorful fishes on the docking area, and suddenly Paolo was more excited to snorkel than to go inside the lagoon. :D
I want to snorkel. :(
One of our tour-mates had been to El Nido for several times already, and he told us there is a cave further into the lagoon. But the calmness of the water and the darkness of its depth scared me, and we were eager to snorkel, so we didn’t join them go into the cave.
Snorkel it is!
Big clown fish, about the size of my palm. Its orange tint is not visible from this picture.
I don’t know what this is, but it sure is big and weird-looking fish.
Last destination was supposedly the 7 Commandos Beach, but when the boatmen told us the beach was facing an open water, everyone agreed to say no! Not again. :D
It was June, it was Habagat season, and there were 2 typhoons within the week, so missing 1 island on each of the 3 tours we did was forgivable. I also realized during this time that perhaps, hypothermia have killed more people than drowning. Ships provide lifeboats, life rings, and life vest, but those things cannot protect you from biting coldness. Enough adventure!
Maybe next time. I would always love to eat on the restaurants by the beach of El Nido, again and again and again. :)
On our 2nd day in El Nido (June 18, 2013), the tour operator told us the weather was improving and that Tour C was available. Horray! This tour’s main destination is Matinloc Island, roughly 4 kilometers away from El Nido mainland. This is the tour we were most excited about since it’s going to the Secret Beach, rumoured to be the inspiration behind Alex Garland’s The Beach.
First stop is the Hidden Beach, not Secret Beach, but Hidden Beach.
The beach itself was rather small, around 500 meters of white sand surrounded by limestones and forest. It was probably called Hidden Beach because there was a big chunk of limestone in front, maybe 100 meters from the shore, covering the beach from passing boats. The water was also calm in here.
On the left end of the beach, there was a tunnel leading to the other side of the limestones. You just have to be careful if you want to pass through because the waves on the other side could slam you to the limestones.
These are limestones I’m are talking about. They could seriously hurt. But we just had to go through it and see what’s on the other side! :D
Yup, we went to the other side, but I held on to the camera and to the rocks and to everything I could possibly hold on to, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. The waves were a bit crazier in this part, but I saw lots of foreigners swimming around, shouting, drinking, and laughing, so I guess the area was not as dangerous as I thought.
Our tourguide told us that the entrance to the hidden beach was a good snorkeling spot. After telling us to watch for incoming/outgoing boats and to be mindful not to go beyond the limestones and into the stronger waves outside, he went back to his cooking and us to the snorkeling area.
One great thing about tour packages, they cook and prepare our lunch on the island!
Second destination is the Matinloc Shrine. This place was creepy! It was supposedly a rest house, but was abandoned around the 90’s when the husband and wife separated. The big house was abandoned, the windows broken, the doors open, the stairs full of sands, and the rooms have names of priests on them. Outside the house, there was a small shrine with weathered religious items.
This place was almost complete. There was a port where boats could easily dock. There was probably an electricity generator, because there were broken lamposts and an old freezer. The house has a veranda. When my small amount of courage gave me strength to go inside the big house, I saw a sofa, glass doors, tiled floors. I never dared to take any pictures! After about 5 minutes, I went out of the house, almost running down the dark and sandy stairs. @_@
The Secret Beach! From the port of the Matinloc Shrine, this view could be seen. Somewhere in those limestones, there is a small entrance leading to the Secret Beach. The boatmen said no tours dared to go to that part of the island on that day, and on that entire week, as the waves were so big and it was dangerous. The boat has to go near the limestones and the people have to swim to the small entrance to get inside the Secret Beach. Both were just impossible with the kind of weather and waves we had that day. Secret Beach will have to stay secret for now. :(
We didn’t find the Secret Beach, but we did find something!
Third destination is the Tapuitan Island. If you love snorkeling, this is the place to be!
Fishes of different sizes, kinds, colors. Corals too! Some corals were so big and wide, they’re just a foot or two from the water surface. You can’t possibly swim in a straight direction without hitting them. The sea floor is full of small corals as well. We had to wear fins this time so we would not easily get tired. Small jellyfish were making me itch all over, but I can’t stop swimming around. :)
I never got to explore the area completely, I ran out of energy. :3 Swimming and diving and chasing pretty fishes, one of the best snorkelling spots I’ve been to!
Last, Helicopter Island. By the time we got here, the waves were getting dangerous, plus a strong wind and rain.
While our tour guide were pacifying our scared tour-mates, we descended the boat and enjoyed the waves.
After some buko, we boarded the boat and was heading to our supposedly last island, the 7 Commandos Beach. But when the tourguide told us the waves were also crazy on that part, everybody agreed to just pass and head back to El Nido mainland instead. Enough adventure for the day. :)
Tour C was also called snorkeling tour, and they didn’t disappoint us. The islands were also paradise. Typhoons Emong and Fabian made the tour all the more exciting and unforgettable. :)
So El Nido, my craziest vacation yet! We spent the whole week, Monday to Saturday (June 17-22, 2013) in Palawan. We left Cebu Monday, arrived in Puerto Prinsesa around lunch time, and travelled a 7-hour bus ride to El Nido in the afternoon. We originally planned to do tours A and C in El Nido, but the rain and wind made it impossible to do either tours, so we settled for tour D on Tuesday. Tour D would only go around Cadlao Island, the nearest island to El Nido Proper.
First stop is the Bukal Island, a small island on the southeast part of Cadlao Island. It is mostly limestones covered with trees hanging on its cracks.
Among its inhabitants is a big bird that greeted us with a very loud bird-y sound when we arrived. This is also a very nice snorkeling spot, with lots of fishes and corals surrounding the island. We didn’t stay here for so long because we still have 4 destinations to visit.
Next stop is the Cadlao Lagoon. As we approached the entrance, the view of turquoise water ahead just kept me giggling with excitement. The water was so clear and calm, the forest on top of the gigantic limestones are so thick and green and healthy. It makes me feel so thankful to have this kind of nature around us.
Aside from the thick forest, very clean water, gigantic limestones, a hut inside the lagoon(!), there were also fishes and corals in the entrance to the lagoon. We weren’t able to explore much though, there were a lot of Jewel damselfishes that kept chasing us every time we try to pass on their corals/area. Jewel fishes are territorial, and there were lots of adult size in the area. Big as we are, we kept avoiding them until we got tired swimming around.
Next stop is the Paradise Island. We spent quite some time in this island. The boatmen cooked our meal, the rain got stronger. My vivid memory of this island was standing on the shallow part of the sea trying to wear my mask and submerging my face to test the fit when I saw fishes swimming and encircling me. My reaction was, ‘Chill out friends! Let me wear my snorkel first!’ and I was just too excited to explore!
Fourth stop is the Pasandigan Cove (not sure which of these two beaches is Pasandigan :D). The underwater life is also healthy in there.
Next stop is Natnat beach, but we weren’t able to dock here due to big waves. The boatmen decided we just go back and spend the remaining hours in the first island we visited, the Bukal island. It was a good idea, because we couldn’t get enough of the underwater scene in Bukal island. Snorkel all you can! :D
On our way from one island to the next, the rocks and limestones are just amazing. Also, I’ve never seen so much forest in my life compared to El Nido.
Tour D was worth it!
We were also able to do tours A and C on the succeeding days, but I’d be writing about it on a separate post. :D
We went to Guimaras last March 2, 2013 and stayed at Guisi Clearwaters Resort.
We first went to the famous Guisi Lighthouse. Paolo read on the internet that there are rooms available near the lighthouse so we were hoping we could stay there. The caretaker was very accommodating. However, he told us that we should have made a reservation first because they still have to prepare the rooms for expected guests. The rooms are located on top of a hill, overlooking the lighthouse and the sea, and water supply has to be carried all the way to the top if there are occupants. That’s the reason for the advance notice. He suggested we try the nearest resort, the Guisi Clearwater Resort around 500m away, and if there are no vacant rooms then he would prepare the room for us. We were kind of disappointed, because we liked the lighthouse area very much. It was situated on top of a hill, and you can see the clear waters below the hill, the white sand beach on the right.
Trying the Guisi Clearwaters was a good suggestion though, because we liked the room that the Guisi Clearwater staff gave us. And there were no other guests, so we kinda had the resort all to ourselves.
We chose to spend the whole afternoon sitting on the beach hut, talking, listening to the music being played on a big speaker by one of the resort staff. It was audible, but not loud enough to hinder conversations. We just talked, watched the sunset, ate junkfood and halo-halo, and occasionally we would go to the shore to take a dip. It was as relaxing as it could be. We wanted to try the famous Guimaras mango, but there were no stores near the resort. I wish I have pictures of the lighthouse, the resort and the beach, it was very quiet and relaxing, though I don’t think I could capture the aura in the pictures. If I wanted pictures, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. :)
Photo credits : stayinginguimaras.com
On Sunday, we decided to do a bit of exploration. First activity was island hopping. We scanned the shoreline of southwestern Guimaras, and I was surprised to see some rock formations similar to that in Coron. It was not as stunning, but the rock formations were also beautiful. We cruised through inlets and passed by several uninhabited white sand beaches. We eventually docked in one of the bigger white sand beach called Dalumbaras, so called because the sand is so soft your feet will be buried a little once you step on the beach. Our boat man said this part is best for snorkelling. The area has corals and beautiful fish, and he didn’t disappoint us. There were unusual corals and the water is not so deep you could actually snorkel from one islet to the next, or from one one white beach stretch to the next. :D It was just beautiful. And we were the only guest on those islands, apparently not so many people knew about the beauty of the Guimaras islands. :3
One of the beautiful beaches you’ll see during island hopping.
Photo credis : Kenyama Beach Resort
We also went to SEAFDEC, where I saw the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in my life. According to the staff, the giant grouper can live up to 50 years, and can grow as big as a beetle car. The one they have is around 15-20 years old, weighs around 100kls, and is almost 2 meters long. He said groupers are territorial and carnivorous, you wouldn’t wanna fall into their cage. Monster fish!
Photo credits : Chronicles of a Travelling Android
Before we went home the next day, we just have to take home a kilo, or 4, of the world’s sweetest mango.
Photo credits : FOOD MORNING, BACOLOD!☺
Guimaras was just beautiful. I wish I could go back again to the resort and to those islands. Someday. :)
We went to Clark, Pampanga last Feb 22-24 to experience the 18th Phil. International Hot Air Balloon Festival. We’ve been waiting for the festival schedule to be announced since last year, and when the schedule was announced last January, we immediately searched for available flights, seat sale or not. We spent the remaining days until the festival researching about Clark and the festival as well as looking at pictures of big balloons!
The festival was held inside the Omni Aviation, its a flight school with their own runway and a wide area on the side cleared for the spectators. We went to the venue as early as 4am. The crew of the hot air balloons would start their preparation very early so that by sunrise, the balloons would already be filled with enough hot air and ready to fly.
Around 6am, some crew were busy laying out the ground cover for their balloons. Some balloons were already starting to take shape. The PA was talking in the background, giving some info about hot air balloons. Apparently, the balloonist can only control how high or low the balloons fly, but he/she doesn’t have any control as to the direction where the balloon is going. When the balloons started to fly, the ground crew would then ride their 4×4 trucks and chase their respective balloons from the ground. Once the balloonist finds a safe landing ground, he/she would start to lower the hot air balloon and land/crash to the ground. The ground crew would then be there to pack the balloon and the basket.
I’d never seen hot air balloons before, I didn’t know how big they would be in real life. When they started to fill the balloons with hot air and the balloons slowly formed its shape, I kept giggling and pointing to the balloons and talking about them and describing them as if Paolo himself couldn’t see them. :D
Around 7am, most of the balloons were inflated enough to make their design obvious, but not yet enough to fly.
According to the PA, there were 32 hot air balloon participants. They came from different continents, and UPS brought them to Clark for the festival. The tulip, mr. sun and rocket ship came from the US, the elephant came from Belgium, the balloon with anime characters came from Japan. There were also hot air balloons from Holland, Germany, Australia, Spain, etc. I wish I could remember all of them.
It was ‘a weekend of everything that flies’. Aside from the hot air balloons, there were also paragliders, skydivers, plane exhibitions, kite flying, etc.
Hot air makes the balloon fly, so they use a burner to heat up the air inside the balloons. Its the same as the household burner, but 10x more powerful.
One more tulip to go.
Go home balloon, you’re drunk.
Because Mr. Sun is cool.
The firetruck that flies.
The wind was too much for this awesome rocket ship on Saturday. The crowd sounded with disappointment when it was brought down around 7:30am. Mission aborted. :(
Paragliders and kites everywhere. There were also skydivers, but they were too far up in the sky they were only dots when I took pictures.
National Anthem, like a boss!
The Breitling Jet Team, the largets civilian aerobatics team flew an awesome exhibition. At some points, they were flying towards each other so fast. I wished I could see their altitude levels, so I would have realized they would not crash towards each other. Sometimes, they would be flying upside down. They were never taught about gravity.
After the fast and powerful jet planes, the ultralight aircrafts. They were so cute and fragile-looking, I don’t know how they stay intact when in flight.
Finally, on the last day of the event, the rocketship took off! Mission accomlished. :D
Hot air ballons, remote-controlled aricrafts, food stalls, balloon night glow, OPM festival, free stuff, too much walking, heat, etc, there were so many things awesome during the festival.
A parting thought from Angeles City, Pampanga.