a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Monday, October 24, 2011

Me-Time in Baguio

With muddied shoes and clothes drenched in a mixture of soil, sweat and rain, I hailed the first van that passed across the road back to Baguio City. I had just gone down from Mt. Timbac in Atok, Benguet where I enjoyed a solitary hike. (Post here)

Embarrassment crept through me as the door of the van closed. After 5 hours of hiking, I knew I smelled unpleasant. On the first chance I had, I poured on some  baby powder and sprayed alcohol all over myself to mask my appalling scent somehow.  :P

Though I was uncomfortable, the views around the Halsema Highway was  just as beautiful as the last time I saw it. In less than two hours, we reached La Trinidad where there was heavy traffic approaching the city proper. I didn't have any concrete plans. I just wanted to get out of my stinky clothes.  I considered going home that evening but at the last minute, I decided to stay one more day to enjoy the city.

Walking around in search of a cheap  accommodation,  brought me back to Hotel 45. It's a no-frills budget hotel at the heart of Session Road which is near good restaurants and it's also where me and some friends stayed on our last hiking trip.  After cleaning up, I crashed for the night.


The following morning,   I wandered off a few blocks from the hotel,  (after applying eye liner, hahahaha!) in search of  a good breakfast. I found Zola Bar & Restaurant,  which is open 24 hours.

I immediately grabbed an empty lounge seat  and ordered for a bacon, egg, rice and coffee. It only costs 84 Pesos. Woohoo! The food I ordered isn't that tasty but I love the well-done egg that came with it and the free coffee refills. The interiors are hip, though the colors reminded me of Halloween with its orange and black theme. (Tip: This turns in a smoky bar in the evening so go here after 6 or 7 am for a relaxing breakfast. I was told that it's an entirely different story at night. :p)



After breakfast, I visited (for the first time!), one of the most photographed landmarks in Baguio - The Lady of Atonement Cathedral or more popularly known as the Baguio Cathedral. It's   located  a few steps from Zola. The facade was gorgeous. I was particularly amused with the twin spires that distinguished it from most churches. 


Next stop was SM where I left my backpack. After strolling around the mall,  I  searched for the jeep going to BenCab Museum which is near the public market. The museum is about 7 kilometers from Baguio and the jeep that plies the Asin route passes directly in front of the museum. It's less than 30 minutes away from the city (without traffic).

The entrance fee is at 100 Pesos (there's a discounted rate for students) which is well worth it. It houses amazing artworks from carvings, sculptures and paintings in various styles.

The enormous landscaped  garden at the back of the museum has got to be my favorite part, well, aside from the food at Cafe Sabel (:P). Here, it's quiet and they have huts amidst ponds where you can relax or think. There's also an eco trail which one can inquire at the reception which I have yet to try.




Feeling refreshed  after roaming the museum, I headed back to Baguio where I met with a  friend  and had dinner at Oh My Gulay, a vegetarian restaurant located at the 5th Floor of La Azotea building along Session Road. It has relaxing, nature-inspired interiors.  There's even a mini pond inside.  Here, I also ran into another friend who I haven't seen in months. Haha, what a coincidence!



The dinner was my final quiet escapade in Baguio and I can't wait to do this again!

Travel Notes:
Expenses:
Pasay to Baguio via Victory Liner (air-con)- 455 Pesos (one way)
Fare from Public Market to BenCab Museum - 13 Pesos/way
Rates at Hotel 45

BenCab Museum Website 
Visit the Victory Liner for the  trip schedules and fares to Baguio - Website 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Day Hike at Mt. Timbac

At approximately 2,717 MASL, Mt. Timbac is dubbed as the 3rd highest point in Luzon, next to Mt. Pulag and Tabayoc. It’s neither the height nor the thrill of summiting a towering peak that drew me on a solo adventure but the allure of  great views and the cold weather.  Well, I haven't climbed in weeks so any sight of greenery would have made me a happy hiker! :P

From Baguio,  I travelled 2.5 hours to KM. 55 in Atok, Benguet. According to Pinoy Mountaineer, it's the easier and shorter jump-off . The other one is at KM. 54 where you'll see lesser houses. The conductor insisted on dropping me off at KM. 55 and I agreed. I trust that he knows the place more.

I started hiking at 11:00 AM.  It was foggy and slightly drizzling as I ascended the concrete steps.  Air was blowing so  I hiked up the zipper of my jacket up to my chin. Brrr. The road was deserted. I was smiling  like a lil girl at the site of trees and mountainsides (as always!)  At the fork, I chose the high road to the left hoping it was the correct one. A couple of steps after, I saw a woman  in a house above the right side of the road and  asked. She nodded and stretched her hand forward. Yahoooo! 



Shameless Plug : I'm glad I was finally able to use my loving hydration partner! Thank you Nathan Sports! I didn't have to struggle just to get a drink. 





In less than an hour, I reached the Mongoto elementary school where I ran into adorable school kids. They had jackets and colorful boots,  their  cheeks  red from the cold. They are so cute!!! I gave them jellies which I brought from the Morning Star stopover which is a few kilometers  away from the jump-off. (This is also where you can grab a bite and buy some supplies before your hike.  You can get brewed coffee here for 15 Pesos. It's good!)


The kids pointed a  shortcut which  should lessen hiking time and before I started off,  I ran into a local guy and 2 kids and I followed them up  the mountain where their home was. Along the way, amidst intense efforts to catch my breath, my companion shared about himself.  He used to be in the army and was stationed in Mindanao where he survived an ambush by jumping into the mud with his comrades.  He told me, Muslims helped them and loaned their attires  so they can walk out safely.  Now that's a story.

The guy (and I'm sorry that I forgot his name) pointed the path I had to take and bade goodbye.  In  about 30 minutes, I finally saw the 3 crosses that marks the summit of  mt. Timbak, a few meters up. I didn't see the trail going to the summit so I tried to check other  paths. There were a couple but most of them led to the crops. I thought I finally saw one.  I started climbing up, when suddenly, two enormous rocks fell on one leg. Aww!!! I can already sense a huge bruise and some scratches.  I felt even more determined to reach the summit because I can already see it from where I was. So near!!!  I  retraced my steps and finally saw it. It was slightly obscured with overgrown grasses. I excitedly made my way up.

 The summit was quiet, serene and foggy - just beautiful!!! There was no one else so I had plenty of time to ingest the view.  I wanted to stay longer but it started raining and it was becoming too cold so I had to go down.





I checked my watch and saw that I had time to check out the mummies which is supposedly 30 minutes away from the school.  I was so excited, I missed a turn and  ended up walking for 45 minutes amidst a long and winding road, very reminiscent of the trail in Mt. Tapulao. My energy was depleting and found myself feeling sad and scared. Rain started pouring harder, fog was thickening  so I just tried to keep on going. When the drops of rain became lighter I texted a friend for some moral support. I decided to just head back down.  It's just not my time to see it.

I was able to make it out of the mountain around 4PM, drenched in a mixture of sweat, mud and rain. I barely had time to clean myself when I saw a van to Baguio. I got in and felt so embarrassed because I knew I stinked! The people were very courteous and no one made comments. I love you!  My clothes were still wet and I had to endure the 3 hour ride to Baguio where I stayed for the night to rest. The following day was another adventure! 

Travel Notes:
Itinerary source - Pinoy Mountaineer
Please go through the comments to get more tips from other climbers. Thanks Gideon Lasco!

Expenses:
Bus Fare - Manila to Baguio via Victory Liner Pasay - 455 Pesos (One way)
Cab - Baguio to Dangwa Bus Station - 50 Pesos (you can actually walk going here if you know the way).
Bus Fare - Baguio to Kilometer 55, Dangwa Station - 81 Pesos
Van Back to Baguio - 100 Pesos

I always ride with Victory Liner because they have numerous trips and it's easy to get to the Pasay terminal from where I live.

At the jump-off, there is no registration necessary but be reminded that you are just visiting. Do not leave any trash or make unnecessary noises especially when  you are in a group. Just a friendly reminder friends!

Going back to Baguio:
There are buses and vans back to Baguio which passes by the jump-off.
Be at the waiting shed by 6PM. The transportation to Baguio would be on the other side of the road.

Where to Stay in Mt. Timbac - you can actually sleep at a local's home. Just ask around.  Bringing something  to your hosts would be a nice gesture. :) 

Where to Stay in Baguio:
If you are not that picky, you can opt to stay at Hotel 45 along Session Road - my fave choice due to its amazing location and that's about it :P.  It's a budget hotel so don't expect much. It's walking distance from SM, Baguio Cathedral, public market, Zola (a 24 hour bar and resto), plus other fave food spots like (Teahouse, Pizza Volante, Oh My Gulay)..hihi.. I miss Baguio already!


Rates: 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Travel Show : Where's Tony Season 2 Launch Party!




If you’re taking a break from gallivanting  and happen to be in town on a Monday night and facing the tube, I encourage you to watch Where’s Tony. It’s a weekly Filipino travel show hosted by the ultra charming Tonytoni, who is even more popular as a DJ from Magic 89.9.  Does Boys Night Out ring a bell to you? Yes, he’s that Tony! 

The show promises to entertain you with Tony’s wacky and unique adventures and  provide information on what to see, do, eat and more for each featured destination. It’s shown on Studio 23 every Monday at 11:30 PM. 

Last month (blushing for the delayed post, sorry John!) I received an email from John Manat, associate producer for Red Pill Media Inc. It was an invite for its Season 2 launch party at the Amber Lounge, The Fort.   Being the party animal that I am (and I say that with sarcasm), I arrived early, already worn out from work and quite sleepy. I noticed the party hardly even began. Of  course, “cool parties” don’t normally start until 12am or so. Gosh, that’s way past my bed time! Haha! 

My companions and I were immediately ushered to comfy lounge seats in a darker part of the club. The soft cushion is  perfect for sleeping when you’re already drunk.  :P 


Photos courtesy of Where's Tony gang. Thanks!

No more than ten minutes, uniformed staff began serving trays of food and drinks. I got red wine, my usual next option (they didn’t serve coffee or Red Horse eh, haha!).  Some friends got white wine and the cute blue martini (which was gooood!).  Then, DJ Tonytoni was introduced to us and warmly shook our hands. He’s quite personable.   I’m not a fan of small talk so I just congratulated him. Hihi. 

In less than an hour,  after stuffing ourselves with the free food and booze,  we had to leave even before the party heated up. Boo hoo. I didn’t even get to chat with John who sent out the invites! But I already stayed long enough and had to leave  because I have work the following day.  Though it was a very brief but fun stay, I sincerely appreciate the invite and I am looking forward to catching the show. 

Amber Ultra Lounge service was amazing and the staff ensured we were full all the time, hahaha! Sweet!  

Again, thanks John! 

Here's a teaser:


Catch Where’s Tony on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/whereistony
Watch it on: Studio 23
Season 2 (hooray!)
Description : 
Where’s Tony? is a weekly travel show which invites you to a wacky and one of a kind adventure. With a list highlighting the top things to see, to try, to eat, to experience and to discover in the featured destination, Where’s Tony? is surely a must in your travel checklist.
Plot outline : 
Where’s Tony is hosted by none other than the witty and wacky DJ of Magic 89.9, Tonytony. With his crazy antics and daring pursuits in trying everything and anything in the name of adventure, you will be guaranteed of a one of a kind travel show.
Schedule :
Every Monday 11:30PM
Starring
DJ Tonytoni
Website
Twitter
Catch some clips here : You Tube

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Travel and Run in Tagaytay Highlands with Nathan Sports!

REGISTRATION STILL ON-GOING!  


The fashionably exclusive Tagaytay Highlands country club will open its door to participants and their supporters for the upcoming Nathan Ridge Run on November 20 (that's a Sunday, by the way).  It's a running event organized by Nathan Sports Philippines that steers away from the usual city fun run. It promises - "A breathtaking view of nature overlooking the lush greeneries of Tagaytay, an uphill road course through rolling hills, and never-before-opened running areas...".

NathanSports is a US-brand known as a "world leader in innovative hydration and reflective gear, and multisport accessories." That's straight off the event brief but based from feedback from other runners, basically everyone I spoke with, had nice things to say about the brand and I've actually met some die-hard Nathan fans! Hihi. I can relate, I am that way with Deuter. :P

Being a green event, plastic cups will not be provided during the race but such generosity  the organizers have that they will be giving away hand-held Nathan hydration bottles to all participants as part of the race kit which  can be used during the race.  It's a steal deal! Gatorade and Premier water will be in jugs at the water stations.

The categories are 5K, 10K and 21K. Keep in mind that this is not your typical route. The course is mostly "uphell"  so each category will feel twice as long. Consider that when you select which one you'll be joining. When we tested the route, I have not exercised in a month or so I found myself walking after less than 10 minutes of running. Some parts were quite steep but the rewarding thing about is are the views of mountains and  the Taal Volcano (and the post-race meal courtesy of Tagaytay Highlands, hihi!)  

No matter how often I've been to Tagaytay, I am tirelessly amused with the view of Taal Volcano and the lake surounding it.  So  even though I don't see myself as much of a runner (more like a foodie/hiker  who needs exercise), I am very, very, very much excited to go! See you there!!!

Here's a sneak peak of the route :




That's CJ, new friend and blogger behind -  runadoboking.wordpress.com
All route photos are courtesy of my ever-reliable camera phone, hehehe! I forgot to bring my cam for the preview. Oh aging, please go easy on me!

Here's our group shot, courtesy of Nathan Sports - the guinea pigs! I love this role! Again, Thank you Nathan Sports for organizing this preview. I met a lot of avid runner/bloggers,  gained new friends (hi CJ, Jef & Amanda!) and got to spend time with old friends (shout out to Mariel, Jules & Ed!) 


Race Venue :
Tagaytay Highlands Sport Center
Race Starts at 5:30 AM (there will be an interval between the start of each category)

Distances-Fees-Inclusions:
5K - P850 (singlet, Nathan Sprint handheld - worth 850 Pesos, post-race meal)
10K - P1,050 (singlet, Nathan Quickdraw Plus handheld - worth 990 Pesos , post-race meal)
21K - P1,050 (singlet, Nathan Quickdraw Plus handheld, post-race meal)

Due to the venue, participants will be limited so register early! :)


.
Sprint - Hydration Bottle with Clipless Cap, 650 mL, Moisture-wicking, adjustable Airmesh hand strap, Dimensional zippered pocket, with incorporated, waterproof I.D./medical emergency card, Reflective detail, Weight: 4 oz

Quickdraw Plus - Hydration Bottle with Clipless Cap, 650 mL, Moisture-wicking, adjustable Airmesh hand strap, Dimensional zippered pocket, Incorporated, waterproof I.D./medical emergency card, Reflective detail, Weight: 4 oz.

Registration Centers :

R.O.X. (Marquee Mall Pampanga)
Runnr (Trinoma Quezon City)
Secondwind (Malingap St. Quezon City, Ortigas Home Depot)
A Runner’s Circle (Roxas Blvd. Manila)
The Starting Line (Westgate Alabang)
Res|Toe|Run (Nuvali Sta. Rosa, Festival Mall) 
R.O.X., Bonifacio High Street
     STORE HOURS
     Friday-Saturday: 12:00PM-11:00PM
     Sunday-Thursday: 12:00PM-10:00PM
     How to Get to Bonifacio High Street -  Visit Metro Manila Directions for details

Nathan Ridge Run FAQ's here

Transportation :
You can opt to ride with the bus that Nathan Sports has liaised with. Fee is 350 Pesos - Round Trip.
Pick-Up Point : R.O.X., Bonifacio High Street to Race Venue (schedule TBA)

Driving Directions to Tagaytay Highlands here.


IMPORTANT NOTE : Entry of non-member private cars are restricted so if you are planning  to bring your own vehicle, you need to coordinate with the organizer in advance and provide them the names of your companions/vehicle plate number.

Forgot to bring my camera but thank God that I have an ever-reliable 3.2 megapixel camera phone which came to the rescue! Hehe! I wish I could have taken more photos!


Accommodation - Avail of a 20% discount when you check in at Tagaytay Highlands! You will have to present your Bib number upon booking. 


Important Links : 
Nathan Sports Website 
Tagaytay Highlands Website & Facebook 

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