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Last Summer Hurrah

16 Jul

Summers are made of fond memories.

It has already started to rain in my country but that did not stop us from going on another beach trip in the middle of June. I know, this is a long overdue post and I apologize for not updating my blog regularly. Life is just crazy these days. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, my family have talked about this trip for a while but wasn’t able to come up with any concrete plans. Carbin Reef was mentioned but since we didn’t have any reservations we were hesitant to go there. Nonetheless, we took off very early on a Sunday, brought some essentials- extra clothes, swimwear, food, and water, and headed to Sagay City. This is located in the northern part of Negros island. If you are coming from Bacolod City, which is the capital of Negros Occidental, it will take about an hour and a half to reach Sagay.

As we reached Sagay, we went to Museo Sang Bata Sa Negros. A guy let us park the car beside the building. He also arranged for us to get to Carbin Reef. On a normal occasion, we most likely wouldn’t be able to cross because only a few boats are allowed to bring guests in a day. Luckily for us, a group canceled and we went in their place.

There’s a wet market across the museum. Visitors can buy food there to take with them. Grills are available at the sandbar.

We paid a total of 1560 PHP covering the fees for the parking, boat,ย  cottage, and entrance for 7 people.

A notice found outside Museo Sang Bata Sa Negros.

The wharf is just a short walk from the museum.

I think it took about 30 minutes to reach the sandbar. Carbin reef is just one of the reefs in Sagay. But this is the most popular and the most visited. According to the Sagay website:

Carbin Reef is a marine sanctuary with its huge, tongued-shaped, creamy white sandbar and its clear waters offers the freshest option for swimming, snorkeling, picnic,ย  or just frolicking in the sand.

There are only few cottages available. Guests who prefer to stay overnight can sleep at the tower (far left).

We enjoyed the sun, sea, and sand for two hours. Fishes underwater were not as colorful as I had hoped but they were still fun to watch.

Guests are prohibited from swimming near the tip of the sandbar. The current in this area is rather strong.

We only had bread, peanut butter, chips, and candies with us. So the first thing we did after reaching dry land was to look for a place to eat. There are several good restaurants in Sagay. Enting’s and Sutukil are among them. We initially wanted to eat at Enting’s but they didn’t have any seafoods to serve. So we ended up at Sutukil which is just located next door. Although, we did buy roasted native chicken from Enting’s to take with us to our next destination. The chicken costs 150 PHP each.

We had calamares (fried squid rings), tinolang isda (soup with fish), and grilled fish . The meal was completed with a big serving of rice.

After lunch, we still haven’t decided where we will go next. Our options were Lakawon Island in Cadiz City or Bonista Beach Resort in Escalante City. I am alright with either of the two since I have already visited these places. But some family members and friends who were with us have never been to Bonista. Going to Escalante was also more convenient for us at that time. So my mom called the owner and when she said they had a vacant room, we headed to Escalante.

Top row: apple mango; resort's swimming pool; restaurant; century-old tree; Middle row: slices of apple mango and our room key; resort's signage; our room; stairs leading to the rooms on a cliff; Bottom row: fambam and friends lazing under a tree; inside the restaurant; inside our room

We were informed beforehand that the room is actually just good for two. But the owner said she can allow all seven of us to squeeze into the room. That wouldn’t have been a problem. However, the airconditioning system inside the room simply couldn’t bear to cool the entire room with all of us in it. Fortunately, a group of guests had to cut their stay short so we got to have one of the rooms on a cliff. Aren’t we the luckiest ones? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Our room was very spacious and had seven mattresses laid out on the floor. They also provided us with an extra electric fan to make the room cooler.

The view that greeted me in the morning. =)

One of the things that we enjoyed so much at the resort was their apple mango. They were very delicious we couldn’t have enough. We even bought more to bring home with us. The resort has their own apple mango trees which they allow to grow naturally. No chemicals are used on these trees.

We didn’t do much while we were there. We just ate, talked, slept, and ate some more. It was a great vacation. It also didn’t hurt that the weather was great. The night sky was literaly littered with bright stars that we spent a good time just gazing at them.

We left early the next day because we had to meet my brothers for a lunch in Silay City and I have a plane to catch later that afternoon. Along the way, we bought some puto (rice cakes). The municipality of Manapla in Negros Occidental is known for their good-tasting rice cakes.

Plain puto and puto with margarine @ 25 PHP per pack from vendors along the highway in Manapla

We had lunch in Balaring. It is a barangay in Silay City that is famous for their seaside restaurants. We often eat at Tama Plaza. This place serves sumptuous dishes they make you forget you are on a diet, if you are on one. If not, I’m sure all the more that you would be enjoying your meal to your stomach’s content. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Clockwise: shrimp; sizzling squid; sizzling bangus (milk fish); the happy eaters; soup with fish; stuffed squid; restaurant's menu; dining area; oysters; entrance to the restaurant (We also had sizzling blue marlin but I was too busy eating to take a picture. It arrived late, you see.)

Just as we were leaving the restaurant, it started to rain.

So long summer... until next year.

As we arrived there, we went to Museo Sang Bata Sa Negros. A guy let us park the car beside the museum building. On a normal occasion, we wouldn’t be able to cross to Carbin Reef He also arranged the boat for us.

This is where we parked our car and paid for the boat that would take us to Carbin Reef. [1560 PHP covering the entrance fee of 7 people, the boat, and the cottage]

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Last Day in Negros Oriental (in Pictures)

12 Jul

We started the day early.

Our first stop was the fruit market.

We then bought some food and drinks at the Public market.

We headed to Dauin and met my dad's friend and his family.

We stayed in this hut while waiting for lunch.

We then went for a swim.

Took a quick shower here before heading back..

My family left me at the sea port in Sibulan..

On the way to the boat.

Santander Express @ 62 PHP per head. This ferry travels several times a day from Santander to Sibulan and vice versa.

There were only a handful of passengers on board.

I arrived in Liloan, Santander (Cebu) after20 minutes. From the port, I took a motorcycle to go to the highway. I then hopped on a Ceres bus (130 PHP) to Cebu City. The bus traveled for 108 kms and took about 3.5 hours.

Bethel Guesthouse

11 Jul

Bethel Guesthouse

Okay, here is a little story:

When we got to Dumaguete, we went straight to Bethel Guesthouse. We didn’t have any reservations. And, according to one of the receptionists, they were almost fully booked. They only had one twin room (1,200PHP/ 2 pax) and a villa suite (4,000 PHP/ 2 pax) available. To get both rooms plus paying for extra beds would be quite expensive, considering that we arrived late in the afternoon and will be leaving early the next day. We asked her to check again. She said she was sorry but that there weren’t any other rooms available. So, we decided to just go with it.

As my aunt was filling up a form for the twin room, the receptionist was talking to somebody on the phone. When she put the phone down, she was all smiles. Somebody justย  canceled their reservations. We got to have another twin room which also happened to be on the same floor as the other one.

I guess we were very lucky! ๐Ÿ™‚

The lobby and Information counter

Our Twin Room with the extra bed at the far end.

When we got to our room, Kung Fu Panda was on. I haven’t seen that movie and still wasn’t able to watch it then as we went down to the restaurant after a few minutes.

Cafe Filomena; They had a special buffet @ 175 PHP for adults. The dinner was filling and so much better than what we had in Siquijor.

An hour or two after dinner, we had a massage in the room. We just requested the receptionist to make a call for the masseuses.

It was a great way to end a tiring day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Second Day in Siquijor (Part 2)

30 Jun

There was no electricity pretty much the whole day that we spent a lot of time at the restaurant. However, when the resort staff couldn’t assure us that they will have a working generator for the rest of the day, we decided it would be better if we just spend the night in Dumaguete. And, of course, they did not let us leave right away. The manager tried to make us change our minds by giving us discounts and saying that the resort van is unavailable to take us to the ferry terminal. But we were firm on our decision that we soon found ourselves negotiating with motorcycle drivers. From this point on, we no longer have an itinerary to follow.

That's my brother on one of the 4 "habal- habals" that we hired. We paid 75 PHP each.

The resort is located in Candaping, Maria. This is about 30 minutes away from Larena. From Larena, we hired two tricycles to take us to Siquijor, which is 20 minutes away. Supposedly, the fare per head is just 20 PHP but we were overcharged. Our driver asked for 150 PHP when there were only three of us. It was definitely a rip off! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The ticket counter at the Siquijor port.

We were hoping to catch the 3 PM trip but it was already fully booked. Since it was a Saturday, meaning only Delta Ferry is available, we had to wait for the next one which was at 4:30 PM.

We were starving by this time but there were no restaurants in sight. We just stayed at a cafeteria and ate some chips and biscuits and had cold drinks. After about an hour, we headed to the terminal and waited for the ferry. It was hot inside the terminal so I stayed outside where there’s shade.

The terminal fee is only 17 PHP.

Good thing the ferry was on time. Boy was I glad when we set foot in Dumaguete!

Second Day in Siquijor (Part 1)

20 Jun

We woke up early the next day. I went for a stroll with my aunt while my parents went to look for some snacks. There weren’t any snacks, like biscuits and chips, available at the resort. Save for some salted nuts that cost 45 PHP per pack (which I managed to haggle down to 30 PHP)! Ridiculously expensive, I must say. Even the lady at the counter thought so too.

We saw this guy cleaning the shore very early in the morning.

We walked this whole stretch and stopped just before the lush greens at the far end.

As we were walking, we saw several fishing boats out into the sea. There were also a few families who have houses amidst the coconut trees.

Happy locals looking for sea weeds

We would have wanted to cross to the other side but the water was starting to rise, making it impossible for us to do so without getting totally wet. So, we just went back. We spent a good time sitting under a tree while our feet frolic in the water.

We sat here and talked until we got hungry.

We met my parents at the outdoor restaurant and ordered some breakfast.

Outdoor restaurant

We got complimentary breakfast for two. This is what I had.

After breakfast, I went around the resort and took some pictures. I saw a group of fishermen who delivered some fresh fish to the resort. I called to my dad to have a look and he bought some to be served for our lunch.

View from the restaurant

Some of the flowers grown at the resort

I walked some more and found a set of stairs by the pool.

Stairs near the pool that leads to the beach

I went down to the beach again and played in the sand for a little while.

Enjoying the sand on my feet

The heat started to become too much forย  me that I walked back to the restaurant. On my way, I found a hammock.

To the left of this sun bed is a hammock

And I fell asleep on it. ๐Ÿ™‚

First Day in Siquijor

10 Jun

We were still far from the exit when I spotted my name written on a small blackboard. The driver from Princesa Bulakna Resort came to pick us up.

First glimpse of the island of Siquijor

The drive to the resort took another 45 minutes.

Almost there...

Before the trip, I made a reservation for two standard rooms. The woman I talked toย  said we would have a bay view. What I didn’t expect was the steep climb to get to the rooms from the restaurant.

Guests proceed to the restaurant upon arrival to register

We didn’t want to go up and down several times a day. So when one of the resort staffย  said they have a family room available that’s very near the restaurant, we immediately took it.

The one with the window is our room.

Some of us ordered lunch as soon as we got settled. The others just ate the chicken and rice that the family brought inside the room. Guests are charged if they bring food. But I would say it was a good thing that we did. The resort may have an impressive menu, but many of the things in the list were unavailable. We even had to wait for more than an hour before our food arrived.

Our lunch. The shrimp curry (220 PHP) was not spicy as my aunt specifically requested and only had a few pieces of shrimps. The fish (170 PHP) was served cold. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

After the disappointing lunch, we all went to sleep. It was too hot that we would be doing ourselves a favor if we stay indoors. Besides, we needed to rest from all the traveling.

We woke up in time for dinner. Boy, was I glad the dinner was so much better. I even forgot to pictures! ;p (I think the picture of the inviting pool below makes up for it. Or is it just me? LOL)

This is one of the two swimming pools in the resort.

Anyway, here’s what we had:

Rice (100 PHP)
Chopsuey (130 PHP). This one had fresh vegetables. They were also more generous with the shrimp.
Bihon Guisado (150 PHP). I found this a little too oily.
Buttered Chicken– half (220 PHP)
Fresh catch of the day (180 PHP/kl + 100 PHP for having them cooked). We just finished our lunch when we were informed that some fishermen just brought in some fresh catch. We had a look and chose only 5 pieces of unfamiliar- looking fishes. We asked for the fishes to be grilled and served while they are still hot for dinner. They did just that. And this was the best part of the dinner. ๐Ÿ˜‰

After dinner, there was really nothing that we can do. We can’t even go drinking because their stocks were running low. There was nothing much to choose from. So, we just played cards inside the room until we were ready to call it a night.

In Between Meeting the Family and the Ferry Ride

5 Jun

The family arrived at around 9:00 AM. We met along the boulevard and went straight to Sans Rival. It was already open by this time. We just left the rest of the family while my dad, my aunt, and I went to look for a place where we can leave the car for the weekend.

The boulevard and the monument of St. Paul's Sisters

We asked a lot of people but they seemed to not know any place where our car can be safe. Finally, we went to the hotel where we usually stay whenever we are in the city. I asked the guard and he eventually agreed.

My dad and aunt went to eat breakfast at Cafe Filomena while I fetched the rest of the family from Sans Rival.

We then took two tricycles (8 PHP/head) to take us to the ferry terminal.

The guy raising his arm (inside the red circle) sells Delta Ferry tickets. The queue behind the woman in red is for Jaylann ferries.

We paid 20 PHP each for the terminal fee. It was a good thing that the terminal had a decent air conditioning system. We did not wait for long before we were called to board the boat. It was a long walk to get to the ferry.

On our way to the ferry

Inside Delta Ferry

It took 45 minutes for us to arrive in Siquijor.

Killing Time in Dumaguete

5 Jun

I agreed to just meet the family in Dumaguete. It was planned that as soon as my plane lands in Sibulan, I will go straight to the ferry terminal in Dumaguete.

Sibulan Airport

The trike driver from the airport initially asked for 70 PHP. I haggled and I ended up paying only 50 PHP. I still think it's a bit expensive for a 10- minute ride to the ferry terminal.

However, my parents weren’t able to wake up early, so I had some time to myself. After I got ourselves tickets for the 10:30 AM trip, I rode a trike (7 PHP) to Sans Rival.

They are best known for their sylvanas.

I have been to Dumaguete countless times. But this is the first time that I was able to go around the city alone. Since Sans Rival was still closed, I decided to just walk along the famous Rizal Boulevard.

This place is beautiful at night.

After a while, the heat became unbearable. When I found a group of men entered a cafe, I followed suit.

Cafe Mamia

My first meal of the day- herbed tomato pasta and mixed berries smoothie both for 75 PHP each.

After a while, I got bored inside the cafe and decided to just walk around again. I went back to Sans Rival but they were still closed. I continued to walk through narrow streets without really any destination in mind.

Diner serving Filipino- style breakfast; I just have to take a picture of the inverted "kalderos" as seats

My mom then called to say they have just arrived in the city.

Getting to Siquijor

3 Jun

If you are coming from Cebu City, there are several ways to get to Dumaguete City.

Dumaguete is where you can get a ferry to take you to the island of Siquijor.

BY SEA

Oceanjet leaves from Pier 1 in Cebu (Photo from Google)

Ocean Jet travels to Dumaguete via Tagbilaran twice daily. Travel time is approximately 4 hours. One way fare is at 920 PHP including the terminal fee.

You can contact them through (032) 255-7560 to confirm their trip schedules. Currently, though, this is what they are following:

CEBU- DUMAGUETE: 6:00 AM and 3:35 PM
DUMAGUETE- CEBU: 7:25 AM and 2:20 PM

BY AIR

Direct Cebu- Dumaguete flights are not available everyday so it would be better to check their site ahead.

Cebu Pacific has a flight that leaves Cebu at 6:30 AM and arrives in Sibulan (where Dumaguete airport in located) at 7:05 AM. From Sibulan, the plane leaves at 7:25 AM and arrives in Cebu at 8:00 AM.

Sibulan is about 10 minutes away from Dumaguete City.

BY LAND + SEA

Ceres bus (Photo from google); 130 PHP for a one-way ride

You can take a Ceres Liner Bus at the South Bus Terminal to reach Lilo-an, Santander. Then, take a motorcycle to get to the Ferry Terminal for about 10- 15 PHP.

Santander Express; One-way ticket costs 62 PHP

The boat ride to Sibulan takes about 30 minutes. From Sibulan, you can take a trike to get to Dumaguete.

Once you are in Dumaguete, you can choose between Delta Ferry and Jaylann to take you to Siquijor, Siquijor. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

Above: Delta ferry @ 160 PHP; Below: Jaylann @ 100 PHP

If you are coming from Dumaguete, the terminal fee is 20 PHP. But if you are coming from Siqujor, it is just 14 PHP.

Here’s the schedule of trips of Delta Ferry:

DUMAGUETE- SIQUIJOR

9:00 AM
10:30 AM
1:30 PM
3:30 PM
4:15 PM (from Mondays- Fridays, fare for this trip is only 120 PHP)
5:30 PM

SIQUIJOR- DUMAGUETE

5:45 AM
10:15 AM
12:30 PM
3:00 PM
4:30 PM

I don’t have the schedule for Jaylann but they also have almost as many trips as the Delta Ferry. Remember, though, that Jaylann do not make any trips on Saturdays.

I Am Back

31 May

The trip did not go according to plan. But all the same, I had fun with family and friends.

As much as I want to tell you all about the trip, I still need to catch up with my sleep. Please bear with me. ๐Ÿ˜‰