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Welcoming Summer 2012 – Puting Buhangin and Kwebang Lampas

This will be the first time I’ll be blogging after the trip. In short, in beki’s term/gay lingo, it is freshly baked. Haha. This trip was just yesterday. I’m just excited to share our adventure because I really had fun. This opens my summer and this will be my first beach exploration for 2012 and hopefully not the last. ūüôā

I’ve been planning to go to Puting Buhangin (White Sand) since last year but never had a chance to pursue it. Last two weeks my feet had been itching to go somewhere else and my friend Tey mentioned she wants to go to the beach. I suggested Puting Buhangin and the rest is history. Together with Tey and Earl we planned this sweet escape to Quezon.

Our bus (Jac Liner LRT/Buendia)¬†left Manila 5:15am and arrived at the Grand Terminal in Lucena at around 8:40am. We have ordered rice in Jollibee for lunch then rode a jeepney to Pagbilao Market. From Pagbilao Market it’s another jeepney ride to Brgy. Polo. A disadvantage if you’re on commute traveling is that some hours or minutes are wasted because drivers still waits their jeepney to be full before leaving. A lot of that happened on this trip. We arrived in Brgy. Polo./Old checkpoint at 11:10am.

Old Checkpoint in Brgy. Polo

From here we rode tricycle to the lake. It’s a not so good 5 minutes travel due to rough road. We asked kuya Tolits, our tricycle driver, to return on a specific time to fetch us. We met ate Gemma there. We paid her our entrance fee and fare to cross the lake. I asked a lot to ate Gemma and found out that Puting Buhangin has a new owner and they now allow overnight stays. Found out also that Aling Divina is no longer the caretaker of the place. Ate Divine, as what ate Gemma calls her, is still there but she no longer manned the place.

Our bangkero or as Earl call them, bangkeritos.

view while crossing the lake, lighthouse at the back

After crossing the lake we don’t know where to go. We forgot to ask the kids. I remember that there will be a short trek so we look around. ¬†All we’re seeing were rocks and water. The place is too vast. So we continue to walk. Then we paused for a while to think and look around.

Then I saw a path. Picture above is me showing Tey to try that way. Hahaha

And we start to trek…

¬†We’re still unsure if we’re on the right track till we saw this sign…

¬†So we continue…

A bit struggle due to boulders along the way and our heavy bag didn’t help. ūüôā

Mangroves

And finally we’ve arrived…

I’m in awe when I saw this scenic view. I can’t believe that I’m seeing this here in this cove. I’ve been to the other beaches in Quezon but Puting Buhangin is by far my favorite. Literally white sand, Earl would call it Boracayish sand¬†and pristine water welcomed us. When we arrived there’s only two other guests so the place is quiet and solemn. We notice also that the place is clean and trash free.

Since it’s already lunch time we ready our lunch. Dismissing the desire to go and plunge into the sea.

Our lunch: Rice (take-out from Jollibee), inihaw na isda, inihaw na liempo, corned beef, spam, itlog na pula (salted egg) and tomatoes.

Peg: Picnic by the beach. Achieved!  Lol

We also bought 3 buko juice from the caretaker. It’s fresh from the coconut tree.:) We didn’t rent a cottage because we’ll just be here for few hours.

Kwebang Lampas is on the other right side if you’re facing the beach.

The place derived its name from a rock formation which forms part of a cove in Brgy. Ibabang Polo in the southern part of Pagbilao Grande Island. The continuous action of the waves had sculpted the rock into a lovely and unique cave.

 off to Kwebang Lampas

Standing on a crystal-clear water on the entrance of the cave.

view of Puting Buhangin from the cave

Inside Kwebang Lampas, it just saddens me that there are few vandalism on the wall and rock formations. Some people just don’t know how to respect.

Water is so clear that you can see me wearing my flip-flops. ūüôā

The other side of the cave leading to the great sea.

Just steps away from the cave there’s a grotto of Mama Mary.

After Kwebang Lampas we went to the other side of the cove and linger there for more than an hour. Tey even compared it a swimming pool since we can swim all we want without fearing to be drowned. It’s a good thing also that the three of us can swim so we don’t have to worry everytime one goes deep.

There is toilet and fresh and clean water available. It’s 30PHP per container.

To go back we have the re-trace the same path we took going here. I took some pictures along the way.

There are a lot of dogs in Puting Buhangin and I must say that most of them are irritating. We didn’t get a cottage so they’re just there surrounding us for food. One of them even got Earl’s Chiz Curls and ate it in front of us. But there’s one dog, let’s call him whitey, since he’s color white (lol), is an exception. We love him dearly. He’s very behave and he accompanied and led us the way from the cove to the lake.

We went back to Lucena Grand Terminal and rode a jeepney to Lucban. We planned a side trip to Kamay ni Hesus¬†but we didn’t know that it closes by 6:00pm. We arrived there around 7:30pm, disappointed we went back to Diversion instead of Grand Terminal to save time and waited for a bus going back to Manila. I’ll be going home to San Pablo and Tey and Earl to Makati.

BITS OF INFO:

  • No electricity
  • Toilet available
  • Day rate: 50PHP
  • Overnight: 100PHP
  • No store here so bring all the things you think you’ll be needing
  • There’s fresh and clean water¬†available with a fee of 30PHP per container
  • Ate Gemma’s contact number: 0947-5911630
Expenses PHP
Aircon Bus ride from LRT/Buendia JAC Terminal to Lucena Grand Terminal 209.50
Jeepney ride from Lucena Grand Terminal to Pagbilao Market 8
Jeepney ride from Pagbilao Market to Brgy. Polo 35
Entrance fee on checkpoint 5
Tricycle from Brgy. Polo to Lake (back and forth) 30
Entrance fee to Puting Buhangin 50
Fare on the small boat to cross the lake (back and forth) 20
Buko juice 50
Tricycle from Lake to jeepney terminal in Brgy. Polo 30
Jeepney ride from Brgy. Polo to Taliban/La Suerte Mall 38
Ordinary bus ride from Taliban/La Suerte Mall to Grand Terminal 8
Jeepney ride from Lucena Grand Terminal to Lucban (Kamay ni Hesus) 30
Jeepney ride from Lucban to Diversion 30
Diversion to San Pablo City 82.50
TOTAL 626

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Day Tour in Mekong Delta – My Tho and Ben Tre

Long will still be with us for a day tour in Mekong River. We asked him to adjust our itinerary an hour earlier since Jha and Silken will have a late afternoon flight to catch back to Bangkok. We met with him at the hotel lobby 6am.

All set and ready for another tour.

Our first agenda is to eat. Haha. Long brought us to Tram Dung Chan Mekong (Mekong Rest Stop). Mekong Rest Stop is where tour groups usually stops not only to eat but to¬†rejuvenate and feel comfortable as well. They houses several restaurant chain that serves traditional Vietnamese cuisines, souvenir shops and mini-mart. They also have well-kept and maintained comfort rooms. In here you may get close to environment with beautiful landscape with full bloomed flowers and running water. Were not able to enjoy ¬†the surrounding though since were time pressured, we have to leave after we’ve eaten. Another good thing about this place, they have FREE WIFI. ūüôā

OPEN/CLOSE: 5:30am till 9:00pm.

 Our group, enjoying/waiting for breakfast.

My breakfast: Com Tam Ayon Cheo (steamed broken rice with grilled pork) for 40,000 VND. I also had their Vietnamese Coffee for 21,000 VND.

Cam whores, before leaving the place. ūüôā

Start of the Mekong Delta Tour:

Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties before going into the sea. It lies immediately to the west of Ho Chi Minh City. Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and many of the villages are often accessible by rivers and canals rather than by road. 

Now at the port. We bought their traditional hat, salakot to us, it costs 1 USD.

Loving ate’s infectious smile. ūüôā

Happy people. So glad to be travelling with them. Will be crusing Tien River in a bit.

Passed by this bridge, forgot the name of the bridge though.

First stop: My Tho

tea break (tea party)

I love the tea they served with natural honey. Tasted some local delicacies. I just remember the dried coconut since we also have that  back here.

There’s also a phyton on this child’s neck. I’m a bit worried for him but he seems not to care. No one dared in the group to have this Phyton on their neck.

Turtle Island – Coconut Factory

Here they show how their local candies and delicacies being made. They have products to sell. We bought some after converting VND to PHP. It’s cheap. ūüôā

Mekong¬†is a¬†river¬†in¬†Southeast Asia. It is the world’s 10th-longest river¬†and the 7th-longest in Asia.¬†From the¬†Tibetan Plateau¬†this river runs through¬†China’s¬†Yunnan¬†province,¬†Burma,¬†Laos,¬†Thailand,¬†Cambodia¬†and¬†Vietnam.

We rode a horse-drawn cart to Than Truc, a small village in Ben Tre. Horse ride is 20,000 VND.

While everyone is enjoying the ride and the experience, suddenly rain pours.

We immediately jumped from our seats and find shelter.

We found this house. We’re not able to ask permission since no one is around. Then after few minutes a woman came out. Just smiled at us. We take it as a permission to stay while its raining.

Rain won’t stop so even if it’s still drizzling we went on. We walked instead of riding the horse again. Good thing some of us brought our raincoat, and I’m one of them. ūüôā

Earl tried to carry this if its heavy and of course for picture purposes as well. Lol

Freshly picked fruits served. Not new to us but we still ate all of it while being seranaded with traditional folk song performance.

 Now for me, this is the best part of the tour, riding a sampan (local boat) while being rowed in the shadows of water coconut palms along idyllic canals.

 Yes, were able to paddle our own sampan.

 After cruising Mekong River, fresh buko juice awaits us.

We went back to the port where our bus is waiting. We then head to a place Long arranged for our lunch, still in My Tho.

 Nha Hang Restaurant РNgoc Gia Trang

Our lunch:

make your own spring rolls, one of my favorites Viet dish

steamed shrimp

elephant eared fish crisply fried

stuffed rice pancake with roasted pork

special soup with noodles

Dessert: Fruits

Delish food. Succelent fruits and vegatables. I can eat Viet food for the rest of my life if given the chance. ūüôā

A structure adjacent to Nha Hang Restaurant. Not sure what it is but we used it as a backdrop for another group picture to end the Mekong Delta Tour.

This is yet again another glimpse of the traditional cultural life of Vietnamese. We’re able to see true life of this diverse and rapidly changing city and how they’re able to adapt to all and still manage to live a simple life.

Expenses VND PHP
Mekong Delta – Ben Tre Tour Package: Price per person (inclusive of lunch) 756,000 1549.03
Total 756,000 1549.03

 ***Price is base on 11 persons. 

All our tours were booked with the hotel direct but to those asking for the name of our tour agency see below:

Travel Agency: Viet Travelmate (Your Bestfriend in Vietnam)

Tour Guide / Tour Operator: Nguyen Nhu Long

Home Office Address: E43 Hoang Quoc Viet St., Phu Thuan Ward, Dist. 7 Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam

Tel / Fax: 84.83.7852.303

Cell: 84.90.3901.086

Email: viettravelmate@yahoo.com

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ATV, Everland Aviary Park and Tanawin View Point – Day 2 (Part 2)

After helmet diving we have to go back to the hotel to get money to pay for our lunch. Kuya from Three M Resto is still with us. He joined us in our helmet diving activity. From D’Mall we were picked up by APA ATV and Buggy for another set of activity. This time land activity.¬†We got our ATVs from them. It includes shuttle service back and forth.

On arrival we registered and then there’s a short orientation. The guy discussed the route we’ll take and some do’s and dont’s. The ATV activity costs 400 php. Another fee of 60 php for the entrance on Everland Aviary Park and 50 php for the Tanawin View Point that you have to pay.

registration area

And off we go to Mt. Luho. Mt. Luho has the highest point in Boracay and can be reach best by a mountain bike or terrain vehicles (ATV/Bug Car).

It’s my first time to try driving (haven’t tried even a scooter) so I was a bit nervous and excited at the same time. We have a guide on this activity.

After few minutes of driving we stopped at Tanawin View Point where you can see 360 degrees view of Caticlan, Bulabog Beach and nearby islands.

It’s robot made from scratch, buggies, side cars and old materials. We saw this at Tanawin View Point’s entrance.

Don’t know how many steps this has, tiring yes, but it’s all worth it because of the view you’ll see on top.¬†

Some of the Luxury Apartments at Tanawin

Tanawin condo style apartments have been designed to bring guest the utmost in modern living with an innovative and contemporary style, combining sophistication with the peace and tranquility of a serene tropical island. Tanawin consists of 14 luxurious apartments: one, two, and three bedroom penthouse suites.

After Tanawin View Point we hurried to Everland Aviary Park since its already¬†getting dark. There’s no attendant when we arrived. We called but only a parrot answered. Indeed amusing. We thought we have to tour the aviary by ourselves when suddenly someone went down from a make shift rest house.

Didn’t see much since its dark. Just a bat. Didn’t dare exploring the area. There’s no enough lighting, I’m afraid someone might jumped at me or I might stepped on something or some creature. And from the looks of it attendants were already resting.

Going back to the starting point. To the APA ATV and Buggy office where the shuttle awaits to bring us back to D’ Mall.

When it got really dark our guide has this colorful lights at the back of his bug car to light our path. We drove slowly since there’s a lot of curves and slopes along the way.

Went back to the resort, took a bath and had dinner at Mang Inasal (for their unlimited rice). We originally planned to go out but we decided to just buy something and bring it to the hotel room. It will be cheaper that way and we can retire early to bed.

Bought fries at Luna Rossa

back to the hotel

Ordered banana split. Asked kuya at the minibar to slice our calamansi. Also borrowed shot glass from him.

How we end our day…

Very odd combination. French fries, mango, banana split and tequila.

Expenses on Day 2 PHP
Braid 200
Island hopping 1,500 (375 per pax) 375
Crystal Cove entrance fee 200
Helmet Diving 400
ATV 400
Tanawin View Point entrance fee 60
Everland Aviary Park entrance fee 50
Total 1685

*Does not include expenses on breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Quezon: Dampalitan Beach

long stretched shore

Part of the two-island tour we were able to get, we went to Dampalitan Beach after Borawan, also in Padre Burgos, Quezon. Its less than 15-min drive from Borawan. 

Upon seeing the island it reminded me of Anawangin Cove. Pine-tree like, called Agoho, will welcome you. Exactly the same in Anawangin. It’s equally beautiful as Borawan but it is bigger and has longer and wider shore.¬†

Dampalitan has cottages and accommodate overnight campers. Just like in Anawangin, no electricity but there’s decent toilet. There’s a minimal fee of 35php.

There’s only few we saw who just arrived and trying to set up their tents. I told Grace it will come out cheaper if we just brought our own tent and spend the night here. But it will be hassle for both of us to bring tent and cook meal there. Plus were two girls so it’s really not advisable to spend the night there.¬†

waterview

We plan to swim here but upon arrival its low tide, crap. We just walk around. Went to the other side where its low tide. 

background mangroves

lowww tide

Since we’re not able to swim we pretended we have our own photo-booth since no one is around to take our pictures. ūüėÄ We really enjoyed goofing around. It’s just me. Grace and my tripod.¬†


We went back to the resort before sunset. Upon arrival we went directly to the resorts outdoor pool since were not able to swim on the two islands. But we left after 30 minutes. We saw a frog jumped and swam on the pool. Perhaps he wants to join us. Lol. So many happened on that day. Mishaps, bloopers. Unforgettable experience that I’ll forever cherish. ūüôā

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Quezon: Borawan Island

When I was told about Borawan I became curious. Why named the place Borawan. Found out its the combined name of Boracay and Palawan. Twas said that it has the white sand of Boracay and fascinating rock formation and pristine water of Palawan. We left Manila early. Amidst of warning not to pursue this trip due to tsunami we still went on and continue what has planned. 

facade of Borawan

After lunch we rest for a while, we decided to do the island hopping by 2pm. Its scorching hot outside. No sign of tsunami. ūüėÄ Staff assured that its safe to stay here. Borawan Island is in Padre Burgos, Quezon.¬†It’s a good 15-minute boat ride from the shore, the jump off point also to Puting Buhangin.¬†

ready to hop hop ūüėÄ

We got the tour from Tamarind Resort. Two islands for the price of 1200. Its a bit pricey compare to the price you’ll get outside. But its ok they provided life vests so its fine with us.

No accommodation available. If you want to stay here you must bring your own tent. When we arrived there’s a lot of tents set up. The island is small so it’s a bit crowded.¬†

Someone was rappelling when we arrived. I’m not sure if they’re the one who set that up. Or it’s really there. They’re a group of mountaineers who seems really adventurous. We didn’t pay any entrance fee.

At first we’re a bit disappointed because we thought we can have the island for ourselves just like the resort were staying at. Haha. Second, we didn’t know where to go because tents occupied most of the space. We decided to go to the other side of the island. We have to climb a huge rock to get there. But its all worth it because we really had a good view of the place.¬†

lush green trees + rock formation

our buddy, tripod

I so love my tripod for this two-day one night trip. There’s only two of us so we really depended on my tripod. Sometimes we asked our boatman to take pictures of us. I forgot his name but found out that he’s the same age as my youngest brother. I admired him and at the same time pity him for having to work at this early age.¬†

We didn’t get the chance to really explore the area. But still I enjoyed our almost two-hour stay. After enjoying the rock formation (for photoshoot, haha) and the view, we decided to go to Dampalitan beach and swim there since Boarawan was crowded.

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Quezon: Our Accommodation, The Tamarind Tree Resort

We searched for a place to stay and the only one coming up is the Tamarind Tree Resort. If we had known about Villa Anita we might consider it as well. Maybe our expenses will turn out cheaper. ūüôā

Located in Padre Burgos in Quezon, the Tamarind Tree Resort offers native style type accommodation. Rooms classified as hill top, beachside, beachside (aircon). We were able to get the hill top fan room since the cheapest accommodation we can get. We overlooked the rate we saw online. We thought its 800php per room. When we arrived at the resort its per person. The cash money we have were just enough for food, accommodation and boat rental. Staff provides mosquito net in rooms. For food, it covered dinner, breakfast and lunch.¬†We paid 3692php for the two of us. After we checked out the following day we have to go to SM Lucena to withdraw. That’s the only place with an ATM Machine.¬†

hilltop fan room, good for 2-4 pax

beachside room, 4-6 pax

The resort is oceanfront. There’s a huge tamarind tree near the pool. We had the resort for ourselves. Were the only one there. It’s quiet at night and you can only hear sounds of crickets, geckos and frogs. Typical province at night. There’s a 24-hour security guard so you’ll feel safe even if deafening silence almost kills us. Nothing much to do in the area at night.¬†

The Tamarind Tree

under the tamarind tree

We arrived at the resort almost lunch time since we’re walked in guest they don’t have food to serve us. We walked to Padre Burgos town proper and had lunch at one of their local carinderia. For the less than a 100php we had lunch for both of us.¬†

off to town proper for lunch

Back at the resort they served a hefty serving of food. We love their set meal. It’s always with dessert or fruits. No drinks though. You have to order separately. Even coffee. Here are pictures of our meals. Not able to take a picture of our dinner though.¬†

breakfast

lunch

The resort also has its own outdoor pool. We tried swimming at night after island hopping but the sound of frogs and geckos plus the silent night made us backed out. We enjoyed the pool the next day.

outdoor pool

Staff at the resort are hospitable. They were all nice. Especially Kuya Peng who always checked with us. He almost jumped in to the pool when he thought Grace is drowning. ūüėÄ If you’re looking for a comfortable place to stay that provides all your needs I would suggest this place.¬†

BITS OF INFO:

  • the resort offers island hopping
  • 2 islands worth 1200, inclusive of life vest
  • alcohol and food not allowed
  • room charges are per person not per room
  • you can make reservation prior to your arrival date, payment through bank deposit
  • it’s a non-smoking resort
Contact Info:

Blaigen Ventures, Inc.
Telephone: (02) 846-9280
Fax: (02) 807-9904
0915-2566366 (Globe)
0921-8383745 (Smart)

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9AM to 5PM
website: www.thetamarindtreeresort.com

You may also contact Kuya Peng, Manager/Caretaker of the resort: 0909-6420881


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Bicolandia – Day 2 Touring Legazpi City

Day two we’ll be touring Legazpi City Albay. Legazpi was named after the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who conquered Philippines in year 1565. It’s also one of the top destinations in Bicol Region. It has the world’s famous Mayon Volcano known for its perfect cone.¬†

and the journey begins...

It’s more than two hours drive time from ¬†Bing’s place in San Jose to Legazpi City. Some of us sleep, others watch the movie being played inside the van. We’re amazed with what we’re seeing on the road. So many picturesque¬†views. We passed by Atulayan Island.¬†

Atulayan Island

This caught our attention. Found out the island is Atulayan Island. It is under the Municipality of Sangay in Partido, Camarines Sur. This was once the site of French-Italian movie “Mutiny in the Seas.” It’s name was¬†derived from the word “atol” which means snail. And indeed from afar Atulayan does look like a snail with sloping curves from top down to shores.¬†I instantly fell in love with the place with its ivory-colored beaches and crystal clear blue water. How I wish I’ll be able to go there in the future.¬†

We stopped at the Partido Riviera viewing deck for again another photo opt. In here you can see the full view of Atulayan Island and nearby beaches. 

Partido Riviera Viewing Deck

background is Atulayan Island

After being awed by Atulayan we continue our travel to Legazpi. Our first stop was the Mayon Volcano Rest House Park. 

Mayon Volcano Rest House Park

The rest house is located at half way to the trip of mayon Volcano, which is 8,500 feet above the sea level. It’s build beside the seismological instrument initially built by Americans but now being used by the Phil. Astronomical and Seismological Agency. It’s also the starting point for mountaineers who climbed the peak of the volcano.¬†

Mayon Planetarium

jump shot with Mt. Mayon as back drop

Looking at Mount Mayon I really can’t help but still felt a little fear. It’s magnificence is a bit intimidating. It made me shiver thinking of the damage it had done and will be doing if ever it erupts. It’s cone might not be that perfect anymore but still Mt. Mayon looks stunningly beautiful standing there. No wonder once it had been one of the seven wonders of the world.¬†

We then went to Cagsawa Ruins. They are the remnants of an 18th century Franciscan church, the Cagsawa Church, built in 1724 and destroyed by the 1814 eruption of Mayon Volcano. Located in Brgy, Busay, Cagsawa under the Municipality of Daraga, Albay. It’s one of the most visited tourist spot in town.

Old Cagsawa Church 

Old Cagsawa

Now

Classic post card view of the Mayon Volcano with what’s left on the Cagsawa church.

The ruins of the Cagsawa church are now the site of Cagsawa Ruins Park. It’s also the site of the Cagsawa National Museum. It contains photographs of the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Mayon as well as geological and archeological exhibits.¬†

Outside the park were souvenir shops but we were advised to save our shopping of pasalubong in Naga City. Upon entering the park there’s a minimal fee of 10 peso per head. There are kids and also adults offering to take your photo or teach you some trick shots. We chose kids. There’s no specific amount they’re asking as payment. small amount will do.¬†

Below are some of the shots they took: 

My favorite shot. Super acting.

heart on the cone

So glad the weather is good when we’re here. They say it’s best to see Mt. Mayon in the morning between 6am to 8pm. We arrived here before noon but still I’m satisfied with what I saw. I used to see Mt. Mayon and Cagsawa Ruins in my history books and post cards only but now I’m here seeing it in person. The feeling is priceless. ūüėÄ

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Paoay Sand Dunes (4×4 Adventure and Sand Boarding)

www.zayzaexplores.com

One of the main reasons why I chose Ilocos Norte to spend my birthday was because of the famous Paoay Sand Dunes. Familiar? It was featured in some local movies like Ang Panday, Himala and the remake of Temptation Island among others. Just last year, they were promoting Ilocos Norte as film tourism destination.

www.zayzaexplores.com

Paoay Sand Dunes is an 88 km stretch of sand and is adjacent to Suba Beach. The moment we set foot here I was in awe. It was almost sunrise that made it more beautiful.

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It was also my first time to ride a 4×4 and we giggled the moment we experienced our first bump.

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It even became more exciting when we started rolling in the dunes.

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www.zayzaexplores.com

The most thrilling part was when we were brought to the highest hill, halt on its edge, told to hold on tight then went down for a seems to be a rollercoaster ride.

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An then we tried sand boarding. It’s like water surfing however instead of water it is sand, well obviously. Lol. I was a bit nervous to try it for fear of tumbling down and true enough I tumbled down. Worst I fell flat on my face. Haha.

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Even the best fall down sometimes as Howie Day said in his song Collide. ūüėÄ Yep, that’s me (the 4th picture in the collage) told you I tumbled down. Haha. I had a bad fall. I fractured my left shoulder as a result.

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Nevertheless we had fun!¬†It’s an ¬†exhilarating and memorable experience. Guaranteed a must try when in Ilocos Norte!

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www.zayzaexplores.com

 

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Vigan In A Day – Calle Crisologo and Light Show

Calle Crisologo is the second to the last stop to conclude our tour in Vigan. To check our earlier stops click here.

6:00 PM – Calle Crisologo

Calle Crisologo is only 500 meters in length and only spanning to just 5 short blocks. Houses were preserved for more than hundred years and are now converted into inns, restaurants and shops.

www.zayzaexplores.com

It is my third time here¬†but¬†it will be the first time I’m visiting at night. Though it is fun to be here¬†during the day as you’ll be able to see almost everything in broad daylight, especially the shops but ¬†there’s a different feel at night.

Golden hue¬†from the streetlamps, paved cobblestone¬†street and the Spanish-style¬†houses as your back drop will make your pictures even more dramatic rather romantic.¬†You’ll feel being transported to Spanish era back again.

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The street is closed to vehicles and only calesas are allowed. We rode a calesa and it’s a fun experience. It’s a first for the three of us.

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It’s a lovely evening and we enjoyed walking on this cobbled street. More quiet, less crowded. We saw teenagers¬†wearing the traditional baro’t saya and¬†having a photoshoot. A beautiful night sight calls the shutterbug in us. #alamna

www.zayzaexplores.com

www.zayzaexplores.com

www.zayzaexplores.com

7:00 PM – Dancing Fountain and Laser Light Show

We’re really glad Kuya Glenn brought us here to cap our tour in Vigan. We really don’t have any idea about this light show. Locals and tourists alike flocked at Plaza Salcedo and patiently waited for the show to start. At that time (since this is a late post) ¬†it’s considered as Vigan’s newest attraction.

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The fountain is located  in Plaza Salcedo, on its two ends Рthe Vigan Cathedral and Provincial Hall. On its sides, city hall and  commercial building.

Sorry for the photos, not able to take good photos¬†as¬†there’s already a lot of people when we arrived.¬†We’re not able to position ourselves to a place¬†where we can get the best angle/photo of the show.

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There are two shows every night,  each one lasting to 30 minutes to almost an hour. And the good thing about it, it is FREE. So if you happen to be in Vigan make sure not to miss it. I guarantee you it is a beautiful show.

8:45 PM – We arrived in our homestay in Laoag.

Next: Paoay Sand Dunes

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Vigan In A Day

10:45 AM – After a quick side trip at Juan Luna Shrine we’re now off to Vigan where we’re really spending our day. But before leaving Ilocos Norte for a day how can we miss an obligatory pic at their welcome sign. Just be¬†mindful of the vehicles passing by when taking pictures.

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11:45 AM – We arrived in Vigan. As per Kuya Glenn it is one of the first three towns in the Philippines alongside with Cebu and Intramuros. Vigan, deemed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and just recently, was included in the New 7 Wonders Cities, is one of the most visited city in the North.

It is almost lunch time and we were brought by Kuya Glenn to Kusina Felicitas since we asked for a place where we can try authentic Ilocano cuisine. No wonder he chose to bring us here, food is of high quality, delicious and inexpensive.

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Kusina Felicitas is Grandpas Inn’s signature restaurant, the other two are their café, Café Uno and their grill house, Uno Grille. Grandpas Inn is an ancestral house turned into a lodge and restaurant.

At the lobby of Grandpas Inn (picture below). We’re loving the cozy ambience and of course paintings and locally made furnitures.

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After lunch we’re so giddy to tour the cobbled street of Calle Crisologo but we’re told that it’s even more beautiful to go there at night. The excitement for the photoshoot,¬†houses, streets and calesas will have to wait then.

1:15 PM – Pagburnayan

Pagburnayan, comes from the root word burnay. It refers to the hand-crafted earthenware pots made from Vigan. Burnay is a local term for jars. Tourist may try it too but kj (killjoy) as we are we didn’t get down and dirty as in literally dirty. We just satisfied ourselves looking at the skill hands of Kuya molding jars using the manual pottery wheel.

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1:35 PM – Padre Burgos House National Museum

Known as Padre Burgos House, this museum is the ancestral house and birthplace of the priest patriot Fr. Jose Burgos. Inside the museum, you will see a collection of Father Burgos memorabilia, photographs and family antiques. We’re also pleased to see dioramas inside the museum. They’re depicting different historical events. It’s free entrance, you may give donations though.

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Diorama of the Execution of The 3 Martyr Priests.

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2:00 PM – Crisologo Museum

It is another ancestral home turned into museum. The house showcases the memorabilia of Floro Crisologo, a former congressman who was assassinated while he was waiting to receive his communion inside Vigan Cathedral. There are a lot of things to see – from antiques, cars, carriages, personal belongings, etc. Also free entrance. Donations are accepted.

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2:30 PM – Syquia Mansion

It is the home of the former and 6th president of the Philippines, President Elpidio Quirino who hails from Vigan. The mansion is given by Alicia Syquia, the late president‚Äôs wife, as a dowry. Women before are the ones giving dowry to men when getting married. It is the typical of the many ancestral bahay na bato in the city – and the largest so far we’ve visited. It is a two-storey, blue and cream-painted mansion in the corner of Quirino Boulevard.

Entrance fee is 20 pesos for adults and 10 pesos for kids below 13 years old. It is open daily from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM in the afternoon.

This carriage will welcome you upon entering the mansion.

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This is their dining room. The cloth above served as the ceiling fan of today and being manually operated by servants by pulling the strings attached to it.

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This is one of the rooms in the house and I think is still being used whenever members of the family are in town. Notice the aircon in the picture.

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At our back is a large replica of Juna Luna’s Spoliarium.

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The lady in the painting is Vicky, President Quirino’s daughter and the youngest first lady in Philippine history at the age of 16. Her mother, Dona Alicia, died during World War II together with her other three siblings. Only Vicky and her elder brother Tomas survived.

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This is a part of the four-poster bed inside the master’s bedroom. I just love the details of it. Truly a work of art. I’m¬†wondering how heavy will that be.

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There’s also a patio/garden in the second floor. How cool is that huh. I imagined ballroom parties happening here attended by people in the high society. It’s spacious though it doesn’t show in the picture below.

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Aside from the grandness of the house I became more interested in the peeping holes that can be¬†found in the master‚Äôs bedroom and in the second floor which are used to view visitors in the receiving area before they are allowed to enter the living room. Peeping holes and the hanging fans, I’m quite amazed, very innovative!

3:30 PM – Rowilda’s Weaving

Aside from Burnay Pottery, Abel weaving is also one of the popular handicrafts that Ilocanos are proud about. Abel cloth is a traditional woven product in Vigan known for its durablity and beauty.

Rowilda’s Weaving is in¬†barangay Camanggaan, it is just a 10-minute tricycle ride southeast of Vigan. Here you can watch hand weavers live in action. Looking at them, their hands so familiar with this¬†art, crisscrossing on this seems to be complicated colored threads to create a loom is fascinating to watch. Skills + talent!

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4:00 PM – Balaurte

I’ve been here numerous times even spent overnight in Baluarte itself when I joined my mom in one of their trips here. It is just a 10-minute drive from Vigan and owned by former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson. It¬†is a wildlife sanctuary dedicated to facilitating education, conservation and protection of endangered species and wildlife.¬†It is ¬†so interactive that visitors can feed and pet them. You can also ride the¬†small horse-drawn carriage (pony/calesitas). Or simply take pictures and enjoy the scenic view.

Entrance is FREE. So I really suggest if you happen to be up North, go and find time to visit Baluarte.

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And how can we missed this freshly squeezed sugar cane juice for only 20php.

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4:50 PM – Bantay Church, Bell Tower and Chapel by the Ruins

St. Augustine Parish Church commonly known as Bantay Church is in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. It has been a popular destination though not part of Vigan since it is just approximately 10-15 minutes away. You can ride a tricycle or even calesa to go here. Bantay Church¬†serves as the¬†Sanctuary of Nuestra Se√Īora de La Caridad, the Queen of Ilocandia.

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Our group together with Kuya Glenn climbed up the belfry. You have to register first and give any amount as donation before you can finally proceed. We waited for others to go out before we get in.

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Bell Tower or Bantay Belfry¬†was said to be the people‚Äôs watchtower, part of the city‚Äôs defense during World Wars I and II. Up here you’ll see a beautiful view of the nearby towns and mountain. After 6PM no more guests are allowed to climb the tower.

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Not far from the church and the belfry is the Chapel by the Ruins.¬†It¬†was damaged during World War II. It’s now a roofless small chapel. Perfect place to sit down and think about life. Lol. But seriously it’s¬†secluded and crowd-free. No entrance fee here.

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So many stops? We’re not yet done with Day 1.

Next:¬†Vigan In A Day ‚Äď Calle Crisologo and Light¬†Show

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Juan Luna Shrine (Dambanang Juan Luna)

Day 1

We woke up 5 AM and had breakfast at 6:30 AM. We’re able to leave the house around 9 AM. Before proceeding to Ilocos Sur we had a detour at¬†Juan Luna Shrine (Dambanang Juan Luna) in Badoc, Ilocos Norte.¬†It’s good that we avail a tour package since not everyone doing DIY tour had a chance to visit this place since buses passing through Badoc won’t pass the shrine’s exact location. Hidden gem it is!

Badoc is the birthplace of the illustrious master and patriot Juan Luna y Novicio, older brother of General Antonio Luna, both of them being Filipino heroes.

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Juan Luna Shrine is a two-story middle-class home of the Luna family. It’s¬†made up of bricks and contains replicas of his works¬†and family photos and personal memorabilia.

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Rooms of the Luna’s are at the upper level. There’s also a¬†reproduction of Juan Luna’s paintings¬†upstairs and so as antique furnitures.

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Deep well near the garden area. As per Kuya Glenn, it hasn’t dried up yet. So there we are¬†trying to take a peek.

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Reproduction of Juan Lunas paintings printed on tarpaulins are displayed around the garden outside.

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I enjoyed this quick tour at the Luna’s residence. There’s a tour guide explaining and retelling stories about the Luna’s, the house and¬†most of the things displayed inside. And punching in fun facts /¬†trivia as well.

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Bits of info:

  • No entrance fee. Donations only.
  • Open from 8 AM – 5 PM | Tuesday – Sunday

 

Next: Vigan In A Day

 

 

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Ilocos 2013 – Birthday Trip

Day 00

It will be my first time celebrating birthday away from my family but I’m traveling with my childhood friends and they’re like family too. Why choose Ilocos? I’ve been to Ilocos Sur before but not able to totally explore the place. As for Ilocos Norte it will be my first. I’m thrilled to be celebrating my birthday in a different place and for tons adventures that awaits us.  ūüėõ

It’s fun to do road trips but since we only have limited time we opt to take the 45-minute to one hour Manila-Laoag flight via Cebu Pacific. Prior to our travel date I already secured tour package and accommodation for a hassle free barkada getaway. I highly recommend Kuya Glenn, our tour operator / personal photographer / driver / tour guide, but I’ll make a separate post of our itinerary, tour package and accommodation to be more detailed about it.

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We landed at Laoag Airport around 8:42 PM. We’re fetched at the airport by Kuya Arnel. Our airport pick up is already included in the package. After dropping our bags in our homestay accommodation, which is just 15 minutes away from the airport, we asked to be brought to the nearest restaurant for a late dinner. He brought us to a Filipino restaurant CDM Mario’s. It’s a cozy night out bar in Laoag. There’s also a live band playing good music.

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If we do not have an early tour the next day, we really would love to stay a bit longer as we enjoyed our little time there. Maybe next time.

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A Visit to Pandin Lake

“The only reason people take you for granted is because they assume you’ll always be there, prove them wrong.”

This is a quote I chance upon online and this is true, that’s how I can describe my relationship with Pandin Lake and other tourist spots in Laguna. I often visit other places, even those a plane ride away, wherein here just few hours or even minutes away from my hometown I can experience what other places can offer. Well so yes, I vow to visit and promote more of my province in the future.

Last Thursday, finally, I was able to visit Pandin Lake with family. Oh yes you’re reading it right this is not a late post. Haha. I still do have a lot of pending to post but I would like to write about this first since this is just a day tour.

Pandin Lake –  is one of the Seven Lakes of San Pablo City in the province of Laguna and being the most popular. Just next to it is Yambo Lake. Pandin and Yambo are twin crater lakes separated by a narrow strip of land. It is said to be the most pristine among the Seven Lakes.

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I’ve been planning to go here almost every summer but never pushes through. This one is unplanned and even on the day itself we were all like still waiting confirmation from each other. Actually there’s no need to plan ahead, we just have to pack our lunch. Pandin Lake is just a “tumbling away” from our hometown Rizal, Laguna.

11:30 AM – We’re complete and ready to leave. From Rizal, ride a jeepney with a signboard San Pablo and asked to be dropped at Pandin Lake. Fare is 8 php.

11:40 AM – Already at the lake’s parking area. See we’re that near. ūüėõ Our parents even know some residents and some were even distant relatives hence the discount given to us.

You’ll know you’re there when you see this billboard of our handsome Gov. Ramil Hernandez welcoming you to Pandin Lake. And yes, that’s the parking area in the picture. If you book the tour in advance someone will pick you up from this point to accompany you to the lake.

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And we started to trek.

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It will take about 10-15 minutes to trek this unpaved road. It’s just a short trek but being under the heat of the sun seems eternity.

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11:55 AM – Arrived at Pandin Lake and finally getting a glimpse of this piece of paradise. I’m quite amazed actually. Serenity, that’s the instant feeling dawned on me upon setting my eyes on Lake Pandin.

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We don’t have any plans of riding the raft and be brought from one end to another as part of the tour. Well I do but maybe some other time. Not that we don’t want to but we’re too many and we don’t have much budget to spend especially we have kids with us. We opt to rent a still bamboo raft with a nipa hut (is that the way to describe it?), it will serve as our cottage. I guess it’s still the same feeling, we’re also floating in the water though not moving. Haha. We  were able to get a discount  since the owner of the raft is a distant relative of my father but normal rent is 500 php.

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These kids surely had fun and was able to find a way to entertain themselves.

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We enjoyed eating lunch with our hands as the wind blows, loving the cool breeze on this sunny weather.

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Saw a man catching shrimp aboard his raft.

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Then later on another man delivered his fresh catch “dulong” to the house near our rented raft. Dulong is also oftenly called silver fish with beady eyes. A woman is said to pick it up to sell them “sa bayan” (in town). Our moms won’t let it passed, they bought of course. It’s cheaper here. They’ll make bola-bola (flat one just like patties) out of it. A bigger version of dulong is called bakule (chana striata) which the kids try to get out of this big blue basket of dulong.

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The kids even tried to fish on their own using a hanky.

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And here’s my mom with the kids trying to get some bituo/bitoo. I don’t know the english translation of it but it belongs to the family of snail and kuhol but the smaller version of them. It is usually cooked in gata or coconut milk.

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The lake is covered with lush green surroundings which even made the cove more appealing.

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The water is clean and inviting that made me want to join the kids and have a dip myself. Those floating on the water were just leaves. ūüėõ

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Here’s what I’ve been mentioning on how the kids were able to entertain themselves (aside from fishing). Their parents were freaking out as we don’t know the depth of the lake. Sometimes it can be shallow from really deep. Me? I was pretty amused on their creativity on how to let their parents “let” them. Ang kukulit lang.

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Here’s my obligatory pic on the raft.

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And with my mom, relatives and cousins. An afternoon well spent with them. ‚̧

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Rafts parked on the side awaits tourists.

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Some views you’ll see when trekking. A farm with Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal as backdrop.

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Expenses PHP
Jeepney fare from Rizal to Ilog 8
My share on bamboo raft rent 100
Jeepney fare from Ilog to Rizal 8
Total 116

Bits of Info:

  • Rafting with lunch: 360
  • Lunch inclusion: grilled tilapia, shrimp cooked in coconut milk (ginataang hipon), fern salad (ensaladang pako), rice, banana and mineral water
  • Rafting only: 180
  • Swimming on the lake requires life jacket
  • Water in the center of the lake is about 180 ft.
  • Water on the part that they allow guests to swim is about 80 ft.
  • You can get a glimpse of Pandin’s twin lake Yambo on a short trek
  • They have electricity
  • Use of restroom is with a fee of 5 php
  • Overnight camping allowed
  • Should you want to visit Pandin Lake you may contact Aling Siony: 09299789565

HOW TO GET HERE

From Manila:

Ride a bus bound to Lucena. Either from Jac Liner or Jam Liner terminal from Kamias, Quezon City or Jac Liner, Jam Liner or DLTB terminal from Buendia/ Gil Puyat in Pasay. Tell the bus conductor San Pablo City. Get off at SM San Pablo. Take a jeepney ride to simbahan or bayan. Near 7/11 convenience store, ride another jeepney to Ilog. Just tell the driver to drop you to Pandin Lake. From the parking area there’s a short trek to get to the lake. 

From Liliw, Nagcarlan and Rizal: 

Take a jeep bound to San Pablo City. Tell the driver to drop you to Pandin Lake. From the parking area there’s a short trek to get to the lake.

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Going Home | Suvarnabhumi Intl. Airport | Accommodation

We have put our phones on alarm apparently it just keeps on ringing, too sleepy to move our arse. We were in shocked to find out¬†the time, it’s already 6:35 AM! We should be able to leave Jha’s place before¬†that time. We were all in haste as we¬†listen to Jha’s instruction on how to get to the airport. We’re not able to bid goodbye decently as we hurriedly leave¬†her house with all our mess. Ha! We walked with large strides (even running) with¬†backpacks, mine is a duffel bag which even makes “the walking”¬†harder. Jha’s place is few blocks from the station, still a bit of long walk. I don’t know how we manage to do it but we’re in Ratchaprarop station in less than 10 minutes.

Our flight leaves 9:40 AM so imagine our worry. I’ve missed my flight once and I don’t want to experience it again. For international flights you have to be there at least¬†two hours prior to¬†your flight.

Ratchaprarop Station Рis an Airport Rail Link station on Ratchaprarop Road and State Railway of Thailand Eastern Line.

Airport Rail Link is an express and commuter rail. The line provides an airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport via Makkasan to Phaya Thai station in Central Bangkok.

7:30 AM РArrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Thanks to the Airport Rail Link we made it just in time.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport¬†(pronounced ‘su-wan-na-poom’), BKK as an airport code – is situated about 30 km or 40 minutes by car from Central Bangkok. It officially opened September of 2006. It is Bangkok’s main international airport. The other airport is Don Mueang International Airport dubbed as the “Old Bangkok” international airport is one of the world’s oldest international airpots and Asia’s oldest operational airport.

I don’t have much pictures to display on this post.¬†I’m unable to pay much on the details of the airport. As soon as we get off from the train we hurriedly walk to¬†the walkway connecting the railway link to the airport. Thankfully we were able to checked in, we don’t have any baggage so less trouble.

We then look for somewhere to eat. There’s a handful of restaurants, food outlets, bars and coffee shops and most of them are open 24/7. From cheap to high end ones you’ll find it here.

We had our quick breakfast at Caffe Nero by Black Canyon in level 4 international departure. It’s a thai brand fast food restaurant. They also have another branch in the main terminal. They offer mid-range prices.

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Breakfast: american fried rice (180 THB) | barbecue pork and crispy pork with rice (150 THB) | egg noodle and prawn wanton with roasted duck (150 THB) | american breakfast set served with black canyon coffee (200 THB) | water (25 THB) | service charge (35 THB)

9:10 AM¬†– Here’s the only picture we had at the airport, before boarding the plane. Haha.

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9:40 AM¬†– The plane leaves¬†on time. In¬†fairness… Haha

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Getting here:

Airport Link (express lines and city lines runs from 6.00 AM to midnight everyday)

  • Via Express Line

SA Express Line Рdeparts Makkasan and Bangkok Airport every 40 minutes in each direction. From Makkasan city terminal, Pretchaburi MRT station is just a walking distance.

SA Phaya Thai Express Рdeparts Phaya Thai and Bangkok Airport every 30 minutes in each direction. Non-stop train service. At Phaya Thai terminal, Phaya Thai BTS station can be easily reached.

  • Via City Line

Departs Phaya Thai (BTS) station and Bangkok Airport every 12-20 minutes. The train stops at Ratchaprarop – Makkasan – Ramkhamhaeng – Hua Mak – Ban Thap Chang – Lat Krabang and terminates at Bangkok Airport. Travel takes approximately 30 minutes.

Taxi – take a taxi from wherever you are to the airport. Make sure though that the taxi driver uses the taxi meter. Note also that traffic in Bangkok gets crazier at times.

Bus Рa 24 hour public bus service is provided from the Bus Terminal at the Transport Center. Take a shuttle bus (express route) to the Transport Center. For more detailed bus route, services and area click here.

Accommodation:

Lucky us, we have friends who lives in Bangkok so we’re able to save money in¬†the¬†“accommodation” area. But no need to¬†fret, there are many cheap hotels in Bangkok, you just have to picked one that suits you in terms of location most convenient for you and of course budget. Many of¬†the hotels¬†are located¬†close¬†to¬†the city centre, major tourist attractions and travel links.

Here’s the list of accommodation “area” options that might be helpful in choosing a¬†place¬†to stay at:

Khao San Road (Banglamphu District)  Being described as the centre of the backpacking universe, Khao San Road boasts many cheap accommodation from budget guesthouses, hostels to 3-star hotels, aside from its bars, restaurant and nightlife which is a plus factor especially to young people. It is also  not far from the majority of attractions and historical sights.

Sukhumvit Road  The longest road in Thailand and serves as the main commercial street. This section is very accessible to BTS (Skytrain Sukhumvit Line) which will make exploring Bangkok a lot easier. It is home  to many hotels, from budget to mid-range and 5-star hotels. Most convenient for shopping as well. Traffic can be insane here though.

Riverside¬†– Where Bangkok’s historic roots lie, it is one the most fascinating and scenic areas especially at night. Most of the high end and 5-star hotels pile up¬†along the Chao Phraya River¬†offering the best view of the city and of course the river. Most of them has river bus stops and offers shuttle boat services to a Skytrain station. If you have more budget to splurge choose here.

Silom¬†– They cater to those travelling on business or¬†leisure as Silom is considered the centre of the business district in Bangkok. Getting around Bangkok is no biggie¬†because of it’s close proximity to the shuttle boats and ferries (being near to the Chao Phraya River). BTS also runs above Silom so nearest stops is just a short walk away.

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