Day trip to Danjugan on our 2nd day and since it’s habagat season, the waves were seriously crazy. I was just waiting for our boat to be wiped out.
But we made it!
Ramram, our guide briefed us about the island. It’s a 43 hectare island and marine sanctuary that is made up of 90% limestone forests. It was once a threatened and over-fished area but with the efforts of The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc., the island has been restored to maybe it’s purest form, providing asylum to many wildlife species.
Me and Jobelle trekked while Miel and Pam took the boat to Moray Lagoon.
And we went snorkeling! Saw some sea snakes, moray eels, giant clams and lots of different fish and corals.
We had a slight scare when it was time to go back when our guide told us that the winds were really strong and just to wait for advise from the boat operator if we could actually dock at the resort or divert to somewhere else. I thought we’ll be stranded. Thank God the waters calmed.
I’ve been best friends with these crackheads for almost 3 decades now. They’ve seen the best and the ugly and the great and the nasty parts of me. They have suppressed strangling me countless of times because of my stubbornness and my twisted way of thinking because we are all weird somehow, but I know despite, they will always have my back. They hear my silence, they see my shadows, and they never judge.
We may not always see each other or talk to each other, but we’ll always have August. (CHAROT!) Virtual hugs!
I stopped celebrating my birthdays when I turned 20 for silly reasons most people wouldn’t really understand. Not that interesting so don’t be curious.
Every year, on my birthday, I leave and go on an adventure and for the last leg of this quarter life crisis, I went to Middle Earth. 12 days full of missed flights, stairs, bottles of wine, herds of cow, flocks of sheep, steak, steep trails, fish and chips, broken luggage, sorting baggage, magnificent views and loads of fun!
Flew Qantas. Flight from Manila was delayed so I missed my connecting flight and was stranded in Sydney airport for a few hours. Booked the next available flight to Auckland. Fortunately, my Wellington flight got moved to a later schedule so I did not miss it. Good thing there was also free booze on board, good enough compensation to the exhausting sprint I had to make to my connection only to arrive to a closed gate.
After 13 hours of flying…
Northern Island winter road trip
The places we went to on our 10-day road trip from Wellington to Auckland.
My cousin and her husband cooking me up a feast at their new home and what a coincidence that a friend of mine from way back also lives in the same suburb as them! She saw my Instagram stories arriving in Wellington and messaged me. Chance meet up of course and she also brought me 3 bottles of wine haha!
Road to Cape Palliser, such picturesque views outside my window!
We passed by some wild seals too! Stopped by the side of the road and took some pictures of these cuties. Careful enough not to get too close as some curious pups were growling at me haha.
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Mount Victoria lookout
360-degree scenic views of Wellington. Always chasing sunsets.
Te Papa Museum
Did not finish exploring and will need to go back!
When you love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, you just have to visit this place. Home of the talented people behind these amazing conceptual designs and visual effects.
Passed through this town going to Castlepoint. The town features over 20 wineries, most within cycling and walking distance of the village square.
We stopped here for late lunch and some wine tasting. I am not a wine person but this place is definitely a must go to. Wine and food, superb.
This small beach-side town on the Wairarapa coast is just beautiful.
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Road crossing to Ruapehu district. Landscape of the Northern Island is so diverse. Majority of the road trip, all I see is lush green forests and cattle and sheep ranches. Then we come to this. Both sides covered with low scrublands and snow capped Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe as backgrounds.
It was snowing when we arrived and first snow fall experience for these kids in the 7 years they’ve been living in New Zealand haha! Pretty winter wonderland.
Parked our car by the hotel. We took a bus up to Mount Ruapehu as the road was very slippery and we did not bring chains.
The Huka falls—largest falls in the Waikato river. The flow rate from the water drop of the falls could fill up 8 olympic size pools in roughly a minute. Amazeballs.
Relaxed in the silica enriched thermal pools as we were dead tired from all the walking and hiking. There is also a walk where you get to experience a recreated Maori settlement, said to have settled some 1,000 years ago, drawn by the thermal activity and the abundance of food. They believed that the hot pools contained healing powers and therapeutic benefits. Amazingly, the houses are so small and considering that most Moari are largely built people.
Wai-O-Tapu (Māori for sacred waters) is an active geothermal area by the Taupo volcanic zone, some 27 kilometers south of Rotorua.
Whakarewarewa Forest – The Redwoods
Magnificent stands of towering native and exotic trees in this beautiful forest.
Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake)
Lake Tikitapu is also known as “Blue Lake” because of its gorgeous sapphire waters.
This magnificent structure used to be an elegant spa retreat called the Bath House in 1908 and was later on converted into a museum and art gallery. Sadly, this beauty closed in 2016 for seismic strengthening and remains closed til now.
Where else to celebrate the last leg of my quarter life crisis but at the lush pastures of the Shire in Middle Earth?
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
I swear we went. They just did not allow us to take photos. According to our Maori guide, the glowworms are sensitive to light and sound which is why they prohibited use of cellphones and cameras and also, said gadgets are expensive and they do not want to be spelunking the caves just to retrieve these.
Grabbed some pictures from Google Images (maybe back when it was still allowed to take photos, I dunno).
The only photos we were able to take — exit of the cave and the entrance to the souvenir shop.
What an awesome day! Ate truffle burgers and truffle fries for dinner, lazed at our Airbnb by the lake and downed 2 bottles of wine. Happy birthday to me!
It was really nice that the guy by the escalator going up the tower told us to check the skies first before deciding to pay more than $20 and just be disappointed. It was raining nonstop and was really cloudy. We did not go up. We went shopping instead lol.
Went shopping at Dress Smart and had dinner at Ramen Takara because it’s my last night and everybody knows how much I love ramen hahaha.
Arrived around 10pm in Manila, stayed at my best friend’s place, was so exhausted fell asleep the moment I went to bed and was snoring. Went to church the next day (thank you LORD for my awesome vacation), had lunch at Soru (always) and flew home to Bacolod in the afternoon.
And I feel like I’m still hungover.
Thank you to Krissy and Alvin for my room (haha) and for going on this trip with me, Micmic for seeing me in Wellington and bringing vino, Aubrey for meeting me in Auckland, Ching and Patrick for letting us stay at your ginormous place and Ilaine and Bambi for coming out for ramen and dessert. 12 days is tooooo short! I wish I was on vacation 24/7.
There’s so much to see in our province honestly. Day trip bonding sesh with my cousins the few days they were home.
Photo set | Murcia & DSB
Lunched at Mambukal Resort, one of the popular mountain resorts in Negros Occidental located in Murcia and rests at 1,200 meters above sea level. It’s been the go to if you want a feel of the mountains since I was a kid. Can go hiking up to the seventh falls, kayaking in the lagoon, camping, watch the gigantic fruit bats or go dipping in the sulfur pool.
Passed by the viewing deck going to DSB overlooking a wide stretch of terrains and plantation.
Coffee at La Guada cafe. It’s a cafe resto with a marvelous view and guests can also stay overnight. They have a variety of rooms that could accommodate just you, a couple or family or you can opt to bring a tent, set up camp, make a bonfire and grill some barbecue. Can also go river trekking with their local guides.
Capped off our day at this pine tree haven in DSB.
On our way to Hinoba-an, we passed by Campomanes bay at the Amity training camp. Thinking of letting our kids join the second batch some time in May, training on basic survival skills.
Juancho also got to take a picture with his favorite fire truck and ambulance!
Included with the camp is this view.
Arrived at Nabulao Beach and Dive Resort just in time for lunch. We booked the Master Suite, very roomy with 2 queen beds, a sofa bed, clean bathroom and a terrace with a view. I could just live here lol. Rate is P5,000 per night (peak season), room could accommodate 6 people.
Time for a swim!
The resort has 2 swimming pools, one where they have their diving lessons and one where kids could swim. They also have a mini bar by the pool, billiards and foosball. Other activities include water sports such as jet skis, banana boat, paraw sailing and island hopping.
Lazed by the shore to wait for the sunset.
Kids writing names on the sand, playing volleyball and building sand castles.
It was a Good Friday indeed.
Day 2 | Black Saturday
Went Island hopping and the kids enjoyed! You could rent boats from the resort — big boat that could accommodate 25 people is P3,500 for 2 hours and small boat that could accommodate 10 people is P1,500 for 2 hours.
The little kids were not scared, I swear (hahaha!).
First stop was Obong caves.
There are many entrances to the Obong caves, 2 of which are dry entrances, the caves where we took the kids to and one that is only accessible by boat or by swimming as the entrance is from the sea. That cave we did not get to see because it was crowded.
Arrived to people cooking lunch by the shore (lol). Sad that the cave walls are full of vandals and some leave their trash behind.
Went inside the caves with the use of our cellphone flashlights and was greeted with stalagmite formations.
The caves played a role during World War II, when the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese. The American Forces landed near Hinoba-an and used the town as their island headquarters. So glad to have the kids explore a little bit of Negrense history.
So there was a little bit of confusion with our boat booking that we ended up joining our friends on the big boat. All good.
Next stop was to a friend’s private beach where we were able to just relax and sip on some fresh buko. The place was awesome child friendly as the beach has shallow and very clear water.
Kids were paddle boarding, riding jet skis and building sand castles while we adults were all talking about random stuff like young living oils and gallstones (hahaha).
Went back to the resort to have late lunch, napped for a bit and waited for sunset but it started to rain really hard. View was still beautiful.
Can’t diet in this place. Food is really good and sold at a very reasonable price. Overall experience at Nabulao is great! Very courteous and accommodating staff, very clean rooms and facilities, good value for money.
Day 3 | Easter Sunday
Beautiful sunrise to cap the holy week.
To old ends and new beginnings.
Grateful to have spent the long weekend with the most important people in my life.
When you want to escape the noise of the city for a bit, the mountains is always a good idea.
Almost 30 minutes from Bacolod City, Duyan Cafe is located in Sitio Lantawan, Brgy. Guimbalaon, Silay City. Approximately 21 kilometers from the Silay Airport, route is well paved and cafe is visibly on the side of the road, you can’t miss it!
Unwind and chill.
They serve sandwiches, coffee, tea and astonishing views. No entrance fee! The perfect weekend getaway. Even the kids love it!
Duyan Cafe is open Wednesdays – Sundays from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm.
You have the option to take the RORO or the fast craft when going to Siquijor Island from Dumsville. We took the RORO, takes about an hour — Montenegro Lines cost P145.00/person (P130 regular fare and P15 terminal fee).
Siquijor is known as the Mystic Island because of its mystic traditions such as black magic and sorcery. But in all honesty, those are like — ancient. Mystic Island because the place is truly magical in all its sense.
From the pristine waters of the port to the emerald green shades of the waterfalls to the beaches with powdery white sand.
Not only that, the people are generally very friendly and accommodating.
We rented a multi-cab to take us to places for the day. Rate was P1,800 and our driver was a former councilor of one of the towns, I forgot which one. Very simple people.
We only went to 2 of the popular spots on the island because we didn’t really have much time (and we all woke up late haha), we were only there for the day. Going to Cambugahay falls, you actually pass by the Fish Spa, it’s under a 400-year-old Balete tree somewhere in Lazi but we skipped this one as it was really crowded.
135 steps down.
Normally, the water is the shade of emerald green but since it had been storming the whole week, water was kind of murky.
It was really crowded that day and waiting time for lunch is one hour, perfect excuse to swim in the sea and laze on the shore. Amazing that despite being a public beach, it is very well maintained! Water is crystal clear, shore is clean. Food is so so but we were so hungry we devoured everything.
Took us 45 minutes from the beach to the port and the scenery was so picturesque, staying on the island for one day is not enough.
Boarded the 6pm RORO back to Dumaguete. Forgot the shipping line but regular fare was P100. We were pooped.
Napped at the hotel when we arrived and went to Sans Rival (again) for dinner.
We stayed at Sierra Hotel in Dumaguete City. It’s very conveniently located near major commercial hubs and tourist destinations, and is only minutes away from the airport and seaport. It’s fairly new having opened 5 floors in 2016 and the 6th floor in January of this year. Rooms are spacious, comfy and clean. We stayed in a deluxe twin room for P2,900/night.
Took us 4 hours to arrive in Bacolod City and we went straight to Silay City for friends to catch their 9pm flight back to Manila. But first! Capped off our trip with inasal pandesyosa, isaw and pork barbecue at Golden Food Park.
Always a riot with my forever dates. My whole face hurts from all the nonstop laughter. Thanks loves!
We were thinking of going out of the country this year but since election period is nearing, some of us (that’s you and me, Mika) have to stay put. This was initially supposed to be a Vigan trip, I’m not really sure how we ended deciding on Cebu. Two were flying in from Manila and the rest of us hitched a ride with Aissa’s brother to Cebu. We left round 1AM because we took long at McDonald’s. When we arrived at San Carlos City, we missed the 3AM trip. Rode the 5AM and docked at Toledo port round 7AM I think.
From Toledo, it normally takes an hour and a half to Cebu (via SRP) but everyone decided to pass by Simala first. The Marian Shrine they say is miraculous, people flocking the place to ask for intercession. When we got in, my first impression was wow, this is some theme park. People were swarming. I felt like the essence of the place was lost because it somehow became a tourist spot.
But anyway, I lit my candles and said my prayers. I thanked God for a safe trip and wonderful weather.
As we were about to leave, we found out that these two got engaged. Somewhere between the bustling of people, wiping statues and lighting candles, he popped the question and we saw her jump hug him. Congratulations Manong Jun and Tin!
Saw this yellow moth at the banyo. Luck? Sign?
Arrived in Cebu quarter past 12, I think. Had lunch and got drunk on coffee. At this point, I haven’t had any sleep.
When those from Manila arrived, we went to Ayala to do some shopping of course. It was just right across the hotel we were staying at, how convenient.
After shopping, we had dinner at Brique,
and vino at Maya.
Aissa wanted to go clubbing (hahaha I’m not kidding) but the rest of us titas just wanted to chill. This was at Crossroads. Last time I was there, Vudu still existed (lol). So long ago.
When we decided with Cebu for this year, we planned to just go to the beach. When February neared, we found out that there was a long weekend so we grabbed that so for those of us working won’t be filing leaves anymore. First place we checked was Shangri-la but it was fully booked, so was Bluewater, because well the long weekend was Chinese New Year. Most of the hotels were full so we opted to stay in Cebu then a day trip to Mactan. Checked and decided on Movenpick since their day pass was cheaper compared to Shangri-la (add about 2,000 and you already get a room).
Place is nice, beach is small though. Weather was perrrrrfect.
They accommodate a maximum of 100 people per day for the day tours and we were lucky enough to have availed since they did not accept reservations for walk-ins and when we called earlier, they only had 5 slots left. We arrived round 11AM and welcomed ourselves with ice cold beer.
Somewhere in this parallel universe, sunlit skin and names in grains.
Story of the fortune cookie
We were finishing lunch and I noticed Guada had a fortune cookie. So I got up and got one. When I opened it, it was empty, no fortune paper inside, whatever that is called. So I went to get another one and when I opened it, it still had nothing in it! Guada got up and got herself another one just to check if it would also be empty but when she opened it, it had paper in it. So I went the last time and got another random fortune cookie. This would be my third cookie. And when I opened it, it had this.
How weird that all three would be in the last cookie I randomly get. Oh and unlimited mimosas.
We stayed until sunset and went back to the hotel when the beer and mimosas were starting to kick in.
Went to Rico’s for dinner but they ran out of lechon so we went to Zubuchon instead in Escario. Hit the Casino after and it was so full! All those people (including us) trying to get lucky because it’s Chinese New Year. Did a few slots and had a beer at the bar.
Before heading to the port, we passed by S&R to buy some junk to bring home (lol). Lunched at Bigby’s because everyone was missing it. All its branches in Bacolod has closed.
And another fortune cookie. Feels of the moment.
Arrived in Toledo and what’s new, we missed the 4PM trip. Killed time at McDonald’s and took the 6PM home.