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Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Friday, January 25, 2008

Girl Bonding Weekend in Anawangin Cove

The Perfect Recipe for a Great Weekend : Two single, happy, old pals. Me and Bitchay were classmates in high school. We used to get into a lot of trouble because we laugh so loudly in class. Even though I've known her for over 10 years, I still continue to learn new things about her like...hahahaa...I can't tell you, it's a girl thing.

January 19, 2008

We left Manila on the 3:30 AM trip of Victory Liner bound for Olongapo.

8:30 AM - We boarded a boat in Pudaquit Beach and that's when the real adventure started.

First Stop : Camera Island - Iba, Zambales

I learned about this island by browsing You Tube. After watching 3 guys explore this uninhabited island, I felt an intense urge to see the place for myself. As our boat approached the shoreline, violent waves greeted us and our boatman broke the bad news - we cannot dock on the shore. The best he could was to slow down the boat and give us a few minutes to take pictures.

As happy as I was to see Camera Island, not being able to walk on its almost white sand kills me. I salivated as I glanced at the ocean floor beneath me. It was crystal clear and corals abundantly surrounded the water. We stayed for a couple of minutes and headedoff to our primary destination - Anawangin Cove.

We were going to stay there for the night. I have been telling Bitchay about this place for several months already and it was only last weekend that our schedules allowed us to get together for another escapade. Bitchay was also my buddy the first time I scaled Gulugod Baboy in Batangas.

We arrived in Anawangin Cove around 9:30 AM. Fortunately, there were only a few campers in the island and I knew some of them. They were people from work but from a different account.

After pitching the tent, eating lunch and talking, we took a nap and when I woke up, only an hour has passed. Time sure runs slowly when you're in a remote island with no cellphone signal.

We were hoping to scale the other side of the island but as we approached the rocks where we normally trek , we saw that it was deep in the water. Water was too high and the waves were so strong for us to walk over it. Damn, we had to settle by the shore and catch the sunset from that angle. But was there a good view of the sunset? Nada...as the afternoon drew closer, dark clouds hover the whole island with the threat of heavy rains. We tried to make the most of it and took advantage of the great lighting provided by the sunset.

Us and The Moonlight

Me and Bitchay settled by the shore and chatted the night away. I brought gin to mix with green tea, apple and orange but Bitchay had colds so we decided to skip the drinking session. We turned in early and continued giggling on stuff inside the tent. We were pretty much acting drunk as we settled in our "bed" for the night. We sang medleys which you would most probably here in videokes. What the heck. Nobody knew us. The group from work had left that afternoon and we were free to embarass ourselves.

January 20, 2008

I woke up to a cold, quiet morning. It was great. I had plenty of sleep. Poor Bitchay woke up early to clean our trash which was scattered by a stray dog. The boatman arrived at 10 AM and I had to say goodbye to one of my favorite getaways the third time.

Next Stop : Barangay Barretto, Olongapo. Please refer to my blogpost - http://soccerprincess.multiply.com/journal/item/242/Half_A_Day_in_Barrio_Barretto_Olongapo

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Half A Day in Barrio Barretto, Olongapo

Written : Jan 22, '08 8:46 PM

After a day of camping in a remote island in Zambales, me and my gal pal Bitchay craved for a good bath straight off a real faucet. After the short tricycle ride from Brgy. Pundaquit, we immediately sent text messages to our friends to ask for information where we could stay. While on board an ordinary bus bound for Olongapo, I received a text message from my friend Tina who was in Manila and she told me to check out Barretto, a town before the bus stop to Olongapo which has a lot of beach resorts along the highway. I consulted the locals sitting with us at the back part of the bus to determine if Barretto is indeed a better option than travelling all the way to Subic. After their enthusiastic replies (Local: "oo, maganda dun!") I was convinced that it was a promising destination.

Subic Mirage Inn (Formerly Known as Casa Blanca)

The conductor let us off on the part of the highway across The Coffee Shop, a prominent restaurant in the area which serves jumbo tacos. The second problem we now faced was where to stay. Just what the locals told us, there were several resorts lined up along the main road and we decided to walk in on several resorts to inquire their rates. It was nearing lunch time and me and my friend were both feeling hungry, tired and icky (since we haven’t taken a bath before we broke camp). After 10 minutes of walking like lost tourists which indeed we were, we landed at the Subic Mirage Inn. A huge banner which mentioned a Promo Rate of 985.56 net per room drew us to the place. Excitedly, we approached the front desk, made sure that the rates were true and paid for a night. It actually costs 986 plus free breakfast. When we checked in our room, our spirits immediately lifted up. The room had two comfortable single beds, huge closet, good airconditioning, clean bathrooms with hot and cold shower, cable t.v.. mini refrigerator and a huge dresser with a mirror. Beach was also within walking distance from our room. The water in the beach looked clean enough Sand is off-white. Docked on the shore are several boats which you can hire for 700 pesos an hour (good for 10 people). The staff – weren’t as accommodating as the other hotels I’ve stayed in though.

Here’s the Inn’s website by the way -http://www.subicmirageinn.com/

Contact Number : (+6347) 223-9245 / 223-9254

Rates are as follows:

ROOM RATE ( Per Night )

Regular Room

P 1,601.60

Deluxe Room

P 1,971.20

Beachside Room

P 2,217.60

Extra Person

P 308.00

Extension Hour

P104.7 2

SUNDAYS - THURSDAYS (Except Holidays)

Regular Room

P 986

The Coffee Shop

After cleaning ourselves a bit, we ventured outside the inn to scout for a place which can serve a satisfying meal. A few minutes of checking out several eateries and restaurants, we decided to try The Coffeeshop which was a 5 minute walk from where we stayed.

We immediately placed our orders. The waitress was quite friendly although, it was strange the way she just placed the plates on one side and didn’t even put it where it should go. We ordered four pieces of fried chicken, iced tea and their specialty – jumbo tacos. Food took around 30 minutes before it arrived, just in time before I faint from hunger. The food, uhm, well, what can I say.. their serving of one cup of rice is quite huge. The dish we ordered was fried chicken and let’s just say, I prefer my mom’s fried chicken over it. We also tried the jumbo tacos which is one of their specialties. It was really huge, in

fact, the biggest taco I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was a little less than 10 inches long and 3 inches wide if my estimates are accurate. It can actually be your main dish. What I loved most was their frozen iced tea. I’m guessing that it was a house blend. It’s enough to invigorate your body on humid days. Ambiance inside the restaurant wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We didn’t get to see the area located in the second floor which looked more promising but it was still closed. Oh - are you curious if the tacos where any good? Well..aside from its enormous size, it's taste doesn't stand out but it's so huge, it becomes a must try.

For more comprehensive information (menu and prices) regarding this restaurant, please drop by their website : http://www.coffeeshoptacos.com/

Trying Out Rowelan’s Beauty Salon

Several days before our trip, I noticed my hair had split ends but I didn’t have enough time to get a haircut. Since we still had several hours before we checked out, I decided to explore the quiet town of Barretto to find a decent salon. There was a trustworthy-looking barbershop near the inn and I decided to ask if they can give my hair a shot. Unfortunately, they told me that they have not hired someone that can do women’s hair. The guy helpfully directed me to a parlor near the market not far from where I was. I badly wanted a haircut so I decided to walk to the area where the salon was. It was near The Coffee Shop and wasn’t hard to find at all. When I saw the parlor, I did a double –take. Was I that desperate for a haircut? I took a deep breath and decided to take a chance. It turned out to be a great move. As I entered the parlor, I was greeted by the only person inside – Trixie. She offered to style my hair exactly like hers and I asked her if she was sure it would suit my round face. She was quite convincing. After all, she really looked like someone who can fix herself up. I agreed. While cutting my hair, we chatted a bit and after several minutes, she turned my hair from a boring one length to what she refers to as “extension” style. My hair looked really great and I found myself smiling a lot as she placed finishing touches with my hair.

I left the salon not only with a new hair, I also gained a new acquaintance - a young lass from Vigan named Trixie.

My stay in Brgy. Barretto albeit a short one was filled with memories of a fun-filled and relaxing afternoon . The people around the area, at least near the place where I stayed were all friendly and I felt at home instantly. My excellent experience has given me a great reason to come back and explore more of this quiet town.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sharing Some Information on Mt. Cristobal

Written : Jan 16, '08 2:29 PM

I was given a chance to climb it last weekend (January 12-13, 2008) and aside from me forgetting the ground sheet which caused some water to penetrate the floor of my tent, I had a great time mingling with a group of energetic mountaineers - Mountain Lemmings.

Trail : Thick rainforest, must wear durable shoes if possible - waterproof. Trail is highly visible. There were several parts of the trail where we had to cling to tree roots. Watch out for deep ravines.

Getting There :

From JAC Liner station along EDSA (it's near GMA-Kamuning MRT Station, north bound) board the bus to Lucena and ask the conductor to let you off at 7 Eleven in San Pablo City - 119 pesos/head (airconditioned bus). It's around 3-4 hours from EDSA to San Pablo City.

From 7 Eleven, walk towards the Jeepney station near a commercial center (forgot the name of the center, sorry but you can ask around)..walking will take around 10-15 minutes.

Hire a jeep for a ride to the geothermal site near the foot of Mt. Cristobal since there are no trips going there directly.

Jeepney Standard Rate : 600 pesos round trip for the entire jeep- fits around 13-15 people with huge packs.

Going home :

Ask the jeepney driver to pick you up at a specific time from the geothermal area.

Get off along the highway in-front of the 7-Eleven in San Pablo City. There are a lot of bus companies that ply this route. We went home Sunday afternoon, around 5 PM and we were able to get decent seats on our way home. There were 9 of us. Fare was also 119 pesos/head for an airconditioned bus

Where to wash up after the Climb:

The psychic's house (popularly known as Montelibano) has a washing area which you can use but after that you have to walk another 30-45 minutes where your jeepney can pick you up so you may want to wash again after that.

We opted to take a bath in one of the resorts in San Pablo - Bato Springs which offers cheap swimming.

Rates As of January 2008:

75 pesos - Weekends

50 pesos - Weekdays

They also offer overnight accomodation. You can also rent a cottage for 300 pesos for the entire day.

OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION SOURCE : http://www.metropolitanms.org/IT/Mount%20Cristobal.pdf

- This link offers helpful advice and information regarding Mt. Cristobal.

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