A Travellerspoint blog

Camiguin Island,Philippines

HIghlights July 2014, 3Nites stay

overcast 32 °C

Just got back from Camiguin, using old research data I have done many years ago I missed out that there is now a Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu to Camiguin. That would have been the most convenient way to get to Camiguin island. We took the Manila to Cagayan de Oro, plus 3 hours by land transport to the port and one (1) hour ferry ride to Camiguin island , and a 25minute ride to the seaside Paras Resort. The resort does not have a beach , it has a some kind of little cove where the outriggers ( bangkas) picks up guest enroute to the white island/ sand bar for a quick 10-15minute ride. (450.00 pesos trip ($10), you just advice the boatman what time you want to be picked up. July being low season rooms were on promotion , about P3000.00 about $70.00, not exactly cheap. but you have a pool to use, Filipino breakfast is available for P200.00 ($5) - choice of corn beef , tocino or tapa with garlic rice, eggs and a cup of coffee or tea.
Main highlight of our island tour would be the waterfalls and the sandbar, We did see another resort called Bahay Bakasyunan and would stay here next time. If you want to travel cheap- there is Paguas Hometels, just outside Paras resort for about P1000.00 a nite ($22.00) being low season, they would deasily upgrade you to a bigger room. The Camiguin island is popular for the lansones fruit. The local folks are gentle and warm. You can rent a van or just hire the trycycles- like a Tuk-Tuks of Thailand-- cheap and air-cooled. The ferry cost P170.00 per adult. one way, from Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin island.
Cagayan de Oron, the main capital city this parts of the region is a mini Manila, with all the amenities you need, there is a new deluxe hotel called Luxe Hotel in downtown, the breakfast buffet is overpriced @P500.00 , just take the filipino breakfast from P165.00 in a very nice ambiance. CDO is bustling with activity, being the port town used to ship the produce of the Davao province , food is inexpensive, and the claim to fame of CDO is white water rafting and zip line adventure (Bukidnon).

Posted by patrickph 06:02 Archived in Philippines Tagged island philippines sand bar de camiguin cagayan oro Comments (0)

Bellarocca Resort,Marinduque ,Philippines

Buenavista Town, Marinduque

sunny 28 °C

An escape from the city, a quick 30minute propeller driven plane ride (Zest Air)from Manila Terminal 4 (domestic airport), mind you there are 4 terminals so you better know which airline your flying and where do their flights fly out from. Flight was on schedule and was in Marinduque in no time at all, as we ascended and reach altitude the plane was already descending for landing - such a quick joy ride.

We are met by resort Meet & assist personnel, full welcome honors as the plane carried about 25 of the resort guests. Due to the previous weeks typhoon, the highway has been damages so after a 20 minute van ride we are transferred to an outrigger bangka for another 40minutes boat ride. As we approach the island - we see a canopy of white buildings-- reminiscent of the island of mykonos,Greece. We were not disappointed at all, our suite room was well appointed with a huge living room, 2 flatscreen plasma television, one in the living room and one in the bedroom-OMG who needs two television sets anyway-- we did not get out of th e city to catch television. The balcony had a great view of the island and lap pool below. A tour of the island resort was arranged and we saw that a third of the property have yet to be put into operational- 19 finished bungalow villas are not in operation--must be due to the prohibitive cost the resort charges-- rooms start from $600 unto $2000.00 for a private villa. We saw the family of prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde as they were the big group that came with us on the Zest air flight-such a treat.

We had all our meals in the Bellarocca Island resort- no other alternatives- in fairness the food was prepared well, the selections was wide- we went for the Kare-kare (Filipino meat & vegetable dish in peanut sauce) with shrimp paste--delightful. A breakfast buffet was available at the dining terrace.

We had the place all to ourselves and had the peace & quiet we wanted. I was able to catch on my book-- the Globe phone signal was pathetic--apparently due to the lack of electricity at the main town of Buenavista--they were experiencing Full Blackout-No electrical power as our resort was on full generator power only. There were kayaks for guest to use, another infinity pool by the ocean terrace. It was a relaxing 3d2N at the island. :-)

Shopping tips: As you travel back to the mainland /airport just ask the van driver to pass by a local house/shop who sells fish sauce-- the 100% pure fish sauce is quite fragrant with a tangible fish sweet smell- nice take away from the island.

2013 Update- just heard about the Bella Roca Resort being closed down - No more air flights to Marinduque :- ( Travel to Marinduque is possible only by a 3 hour drive & a 3 hour R0-R0 Roll-on Roll -Off Ferry Ride. The lack of direct air flights will keep Marinduque's development slower but will allow it to keep its pristine natural resources much longer.

Posted by patrickph 03:20 Archived in Philippines Tagged beach resort bellarocca marinduque Comments (0)

PICO DE LORO,Nasugbu Batangas, south of Manila

Philippines- beach, 110km from Manila,3hrs drive

semi-overcast 25 °C

Beach resort about 110 kilometers from Manila, nice new resorts ,hotel, condominiums surrounded by 13 coves- we only got to see one.
Food was great- buffet spreads for the main meals- lunch & dinner during the weekend, we were there on a saturday. The beach was not overly crowded, but the infinity pool was a bit crowded for my taste.

Posted by patrickph 06:51 Archived in Philippines Tagged beach philippines batangas nasugbu Comments (0)

Nepal , Kathmandu April 17-30th

with 5 Day trekking Pokhara -Poon HIll-Ghorepani-Gandruk

sunny 28 °C

Arrived via DragonAir form Hong Kong - flight delayed arrived about 1130pm - stayed at Marshyandi hotel , Thamel. Rolling blackouts- 7 hours with power from electric grid and 7 hours no power. HOtel nice location, in the heart of the city-lots of shops, jewelry, camping and trekking outfitters, singing metal bowls, pashmina right outside the hotel- Backpacker's Row. 2Nites stop in Kathmandu as our tour operator International TRek & Expedition takes care of our trekking permits.

We left Kathmandu for Bandipur (3hrs by land) - got billeted at Mountain View Resort in Bandipur- simple hotel with a balcoany and great view of the Annapurna himalayan range. After our overnight stop we proceeded to Pokhara -checked in at the nice Trek-o-Tel , cozy boutique hotel right across the former Royal Palace facing the lake. Lots of shops line the street right outside the hotel- from money changers, pashmina shops, camping gear stores.

We leave Pokhara fo Nayapul (1070m) ,

Day 1 trek to Tikhedhunga(1540m) , estimated hike time- 5- 1/2 hrs- we took 7 hours. We even had sherpas taking care of our packs.Today was not so difficult.
Day 2 Tikhedhunga to Ulleri (2070m) to Banthanti (2300m) to Ghorepani (2874m) estimated 5 1/2 hrs - we took 11-12 hours, we got caught in the rain - ponchos out, was cold and ice coming down. We were literally dragging our feet the last 2 hours, taking rest & water breaks till we arrive exhausted and drained to the last sweat.
Day 3 Decided to have an extra day of rest and enjoy Ghorepani -slow and easy. Enjoying our morning cafe with Annapurna South peaking through the sunrise. Transfered to the Tenzing Norgay Suite with a simple attached bathroom (a luxury).
Day 4 We skipped the Poon HIll Trek and viewed the sunrise once again from Ghorepani, we leave Ghorepani for Tadapani ( 2,590m) , here at Tadapani the guest house was a bit cramped. the hot showers under the kitchen was great. water pipes are designed to pass through the kitchen to pick up the heat to give hot water for the showers- good idea!
Day 5 We leave for Ghandruk (1940m) , model village, the hometown of the courageous/brave fighting Gurkhas of the British Royal Army. We had a good stay here, with 24 hour electric power and powered up our iphones/ipods/camera batteries. This town is supposedly powered by hydro-electric power-hence the 24/7 supply of electric power, yes attached bathrooms!
Day 6 WE happily leave for the last trekking day to get back via Syauli Bajar / to Nayapul for our extraction and ride back to Pokhara.

Arrived in Pokhara- Trek-o-tel , Korean food tonight and the neighborhood Korean BBQ- yummy.

Day 7 Take a plane back to Kathmandu- 30 minutes only - Gana Air , sure beats the 5-6 hour land trip to Kathmandu. ($100)
Uh Oh back in Kathmandu- General strike in Kathmandu- all shops closed for the day!

Day 8 City tour, we visit Pashupati, Bhatpur & Boudda-(lots of tibetan buddhist) - also saw the living Goddess- the Kumari- awesome.

Nepal , a trip of a lifetime indeed. the snowcapped Himalayan mountains, the kind Nepalese , the great shopping, the sight and sound of Nepal-will be etched in my mind for a lifetime.

Posted by patrickph 07:33 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal kathmandu pokhara ghorepani ghandruk Comments (0)

Hokkaido, Japan

Kushiro, Land of the Japanese Cranes

snow 0 °C

Travel period, Feb 8-17. We started our trip from Osaka, Japan. We took the Twilight Express train from Osaka to Sapporo (nice train with private cabins for 2) , supposedly Japan's response to the Orient Express. We had to add about 10,040 yen despite our 7Day JR Rail Pass. Buy bento box at Osaka station before departure - Bento on board dinner was expensive - 6000yen ($72) a bit steep. Left Osaka 11:50am and arrived in Sapporo the next day at 9:50am. Transferred to the Super Ozaru train for Kushiro- its a limited express train with minimal stops but still took about 4.5 hours to reach Kushiro. Then wait about 50 minutes for the connecting bus for Akan- get off Tancho No Sato bus stop after 1hr 20 minutes travel. Akai Ber (Red Beret) hotel/inn just across the bus stop. Simple and nice japanese ryokan type rooms- 10 tatami mat size-no private bath. Yet hardly any other guest so it felt very private.
Akan Crane Center(6000 yen per pax per night with japanese bento breakfast) is just across the hotel- about 400 meters away, 10 minutes walk due to snow & ice on the road. 400 yen entrance fee-- and voila you walk into the Tancho Observation deck and see a lot of japanese photographers with their Safari Lenses on their 35mm DSLRs- 600mm to 1000mm lenses. It was truly a site to behold. The Japanese Cranes roughly about 70-100 of them would fly in and take off time and again- beautiful images to be taken- the majestic birds had a field day flying in and out, doing the love dance and prancing in the snow. We were so pleased to spend 2 full days photographing the red crowned black necked cranes at the Akan Crane Center. There was a Tancho Observation center outside that protected us from the cold, small restaurant service-yummy japanese noodle soup was perfect for the cold weather.

Return to Kyoto via Sapporo, stopped in Sapporo to catch the Ice & Snow Festival- nothing great. Visited Tomamu- Alpha ski resort - nice resort- but the brochure we saw had a terrace above the clouds- only to find out that that scenery is during summer time only. Ok maybe next summer. The photo on the Alpha Resort brochure was truly amazing- breathtaking.

Took Shinkansen from Sapporo to Kyoto, left 7:30am arrived 8:15pm exactly. We were amazed with the punctuality of the Japanese JR train Sinkansen system- arrives on the station and leaves within seconds. I used Hyperdia.com to find the japanese train schedules.

Posted by patrickph 07:35 Archived in Japan Tagged hokkaido cranes kushiro Comments (1)

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