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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How I Wandered Off For 8 Days : PART 1 - Journey to Camiguin

8 Days, Five Provinces, Three major islands, One Little Lady
A week before I turned 27, I went on a backpacking trip and set off to some parts of Mindanao by myself, sailed on a ferry to the Visayas to visit two of my friends, flew back to Manila and rode a 12 hour bus ride up Northen Luzon with two other travel buds. I didn't have any solid goals set, I just wanted to get outside Manila and get to the 3 major islands of the Philippines.  This is how I rolled. 
Dates: November 16-23, 2008
Starting Point : Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay
1. Misamis Oriental – Cagayan De Oro City, Balingoan
2. Camiguin - Mambajao
3. Bukidnon – Malaybalay City
4. Cebu – Mabolo City, Mactan
5. Ilocos Norte – Pagudpud, Bangui, Burgos, Laoag, Batac, Paoay
Money in My Pocket : 10,000 pesos for everything – food, lodging, transpo (excludes the two flights which I booked in advance; Manila to CDO and Cebu to Manila)

I took the 4:25 AM flight from Manila to CDO. I was excited because it would be my first time in Mindanao.  

Upon arrival at the Benoni Port, I went inside a mini grocery fronting the port entrance to buy water. There I asked a cashier how to get to Mambajao, Camiguin's. Pronouncing it as "Mam-badjao", the girl appeared confused. I repeated it about three times before she finally understood what I've been trying to say and corrected me - "ahh, Mam-bahaw". There you go, whew. 

After crossing the street, still unsure where to go, a local in a hot pink jacket started chatting with me. She insisted on touring me around Camiguin. Haha, I wasn't really planning on hiring a guide because I had limited funds but she wouldn't take no for an answer so I relented. She was likeable anyway and she helped me find a super cheap place to stay.  She contacted a friend with a motorbike and he drove us around. (For the bike and the guideship, I paid a total of 700 Pesos with the 200 going to the  guide). First order of business was for me to get settled in a nice, inexpensive lodge. 

We went to the Enigmata Tree House. Unfortunately, the cheap rooms were booked so we moved further down Mambajao. I toured about two other hostels until we finally landed at GV Pension House near the public market. 

I got a fan room for 300 Pesos only (Promo rate!).  I wasn't expecting much but when I got inside, I felt thrilled. I had two single beds all to myself, bathroom and cable t.v.!  I decided the other bed would be just for my bag. After all, it deserves a treat after putting up with me and my crazy adventures. 

After freshening up and snacking on cereals , (totally  skipped lunch :(,  had to save money), I met with the lady again and we started the tour.  

There are a lot of things to do around Camiguin. Ardent Springs and White Island are a must visit. I went to neither because it won't be fun to get wet alone. :P The entire province is enchanting but my favorite destination was our first stop - the Old Volcano. 

Cemented steps on the first part of the trail. Lost my other pics so I couldn't show my fave parts :(
Photo taken while riding a motorbike
This has stations of the cross and the hike up would take you all the way near the summit where the views are breathtaking. I really love it here. You can see the ocean and other mountains. After the hike (My guide appeared tired, maybe because I walk fast. I was excited eh! I love this place), we went to the famous Sunken Cemetery which gave me the chills. You can see a cross on top of the water. The view is hypnotic but eerie. 

I insisted on going to the foot of Mt. Hibok-hibok and stare at it from a distance. I felt attracted to it and wished I had time to climb it. 

I got back to the hotel around 7:00 PM and I was so tired! My legs and butt hurt very badly from the motorbike ride.  I felt abused but it was worth it, hehe! Camiguin was great.  That night, I skipped dinner again and went to sleep. Boo! 

The following day was my schedule back to CDO. But before I departed, I walked around town and passed by Cafe 1914 . It's dubbed  as “Home of the best Halo-Halo in the island”.  For 60 pesos, you get a heaping serving of yummy halo-halo, topped with ice cream and decorated with wafer sticks and marshmallows. I really love their halo-halo! The ice wasn’t as fine as that of the famous Razon’s but the mixture of ingredients is definitely a contender for the best halo-halo in the country.

Since I skipped two meals the previous day, I made up for it and grabbed brunch at RJ Fastfood. They served fern salad with their value meals. The fern salad looks really interesting – very green, like dead, little worms on a plate and its taste reminded me of the local dish – Kilawin; it was slightly salty and tangy.

It was a hot day and I took my sweet time just wandering around the streets where I saw interesting, old structures. Then, it was time to go again.  CDO, I'm coming back!

Click on Part 2 to follow my adventure in CDO. :P

This post is part of my 8-day birthday backpacking trip from Mindanao to Luzon : 

Camiguin Travel Info. Here

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