Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thank You 2013!

“Dear old world', she murmured, 'you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Much as I wished that this would be the year that I get to finally shout gleefully to the heavens for striking a romantic connection with a man who gushes at the sound of my name, this year turned out to be a time for slowing down and pursuing other adventures for which I am extremely thankful. 

I focused my energy on pursuing goals that I’ve set aside, tried new things and traveled to places I wondered about. It’s also been a truly wonderful year pursuing writing and working with brands that I respect. 

Here’s a list of my favourite adventures this year. Please click on the title links to read my post about it. :) 

3. First trip in Boracay - Ariel's Point + Top Fave Places to Dine in Boracay (link leads to my food blog)

Photo taken by my friend Arisse

Our group together with one of the owners, Dr. Cuanang

Photo from Berghaus PH
16. Accompanied  friends for their training run weekend in Baguio  (haven't written about this though). On the first day, we ran 9.6 KM at the Yellow Trail at Camp John Hay and on the following day, we had a long Slow Distance  (LSD) run from Panagbenga Park to the top of Mt. Cabuyao, a total of 19. 7 KM of road. Whew! I don't really like running but it's an awesome exercise. Spending a weekend running is not exactly my idea of fun but I was with great company so I had a blast. :) 
Photo taken at Camp John Hay's Yellow Trail
2014, see you in a bit. ;) 

This entry is part of  the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Carnival for December with the theme, Closing the Curtains on 2013 : Love, learn and living hosted by The Philippine Travelogue. View the rest of the entries here (Carnival post will be live in a few hours).

To check out the rest of the previous blog carnival entries, visit Langyaw.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Berghaus Adventure Challenge in Mt. Batulao

Great weather at the summit of Mt. Batulao (Photo from BerghausPH)
November 28, 2013 - I excitedly joined a friend, Ed Escueta of Team Certified Positive, fellow bloggers, mountaineers, runners and members of traditional media for nice hike up Mt. Batulao, a mountain in Batangas known for its picturesque jagged peaks. 

This hiking adventure  was organized by Toby's Sports as part of the official launch of Berghaus, a trusted outdoor brand from the UK established in 1966 and distributed in the Philippines by the Quorum Group, which owns Toby's Sports, Runnr and several other retail stores.  

To maximize the experience, we traversed using the new trail up and got down via the old trail taking us approximately 5 hours to complete the hike. 

Ascending via the old trail
I tested the Women's Vapour Claw which is designed for trail running and despite wearing it for the first time that day, it felt extremely comfortable on the feet.  The  internal part of the shoes made me feel  like my feet was wrapped in cotton.  :) (More about its features here).
Women's Vapour Claw, Color: Cyan Blue (Photo from store.berghaus.com)
Sun was in full force so trail was very dry and some parts had dangerously loose rocks but I had no problems with the traction on the soles. I'm quite satisfied with the shoes but since I've only used it once, I still have to use it for several more months and on tougher trails to give a fairer verdict. :) 

For the apparel, I wore the Women's Long-Sleeve Crew Neck Technical T-Shirt. This lightweight shirt is created with Polygiene® technology  which  is awesome at preventing odour through the use of silver ions. It’s perfect for multi day hikes when you just use one shirt for hiking several days to save space inside your bag.   :P 

That's me happily blazing the trails in soft pink! It's not my color of choice but the
shirt's so comfy, I felt like I was hiking nude, thus the big smile :P.
The fabric feels silky on the skin too. Another  one of its amazing features is that it protects you from the sun with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 30+, ideal for hiking in the tropics.  This is the first time that I wore long-sleeves on a hike and the experience was fortunately pleasant. I didn’t feel suffocated as the fabric is airy. I could easily roll the sleeves up when it felt too humid and roll it down again when the sun’s rays became unbearable. 

Since I joined an interesting team , I couldn't help but share these fan girl shots. Hehe! 
with Everest summiteer Reggie Pablo and ultramarathoner Dabobong Angeles
Think Pink! :) L-R :  Larissa Joson of Women's Health &
former DLSU Volleyball Player & Toby's Brand Ambassador, Michelle Gumabao
(More photos of the hike at Berghaus PH Facebook Page)

After the hike, we returned to our homebase for the day, Sandari Batulao, a developing residential community near the area for our much awaited buffet lunch which we've been fantasizing since the time we started descending the mountain. :P 

Inside the clubhouse, we got to see more of the line offered by Berghaus. The vibrant display featured bags, jackets, shirts, shorts and shoes in attractive colors.  Price range for each product varies. Peg it around 2,500-15,000 Pesos for the bags and jackets.

Toby Claudio, the name behind Toby's Sports delivering a short message. Beside him is
Coach Andy Leuterio :)
Although Berghaus is fairly new in the Philippines, I hope to see it get a good share of the outdoor market especially for those who want to try something else. :)

Thank you Toby's Sports, Berghaus PH and Sandari Batulao! :) Til our next adventure!

For quick updates, follow me on Twitter : @jovialwanderer. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Glimpse of Mt. Kanlaon

While I jumped up and down to battle the cold, I had to remind myself for the nth time why I travel to remote places and put up with the discomfort just to hike a mountain. Dark heavy clouds lingered over the sky, wind came in fierce batches along with a light drizzle.  In the first few minutes we arrived, my friend and I had already covered ourselves head to toe. 

Sitio Mapot, our starting trail to Mt. Kanlaon's crater summit
The view however was calming, a huge contrast to the weather that welcomed us in Sitio Mapot. We were surrounded by vast greenery where a very small community resides. Wild flowers are everywhere, its colors popping from the bushes.  It was 7:00 AM and though the sun remained hidden behind the clouds, the colors of plants and trees remained vibrant.  

I felt restored and once again, excited to begin our revelry with nature. 
Droplets of rain on my shot
By 7:47 AM, we started our wet hike to Mt. Kanlaon's, the Philippines' 3rd most active volcano which offers unbelievably beautiful views, the main reason which drove me and a friend to leave the comforts of Manila. Air was thin and I found myself out of breath although the  inclined trail wasn’t that steep.

We reached the denser section of the mountain where I couldn't see past 5 feet due to the thick foliage covering the trail. What's great is that it shielded us from the strong winds that were strong enough to knock down my 134-pound frame. 

After an hour of hiking, we reached a small clearing and it was there that Joral broke the heart-crushing news to us.  Due to strong winds, we should not go farther. There were threats of falling trees and much as I love these beasts of the forest, my passion would be a  no match against a fallen tree trunk.  :(

When we planned our hike past the climbing season, (Season's March to May and October to December), I knew chances were high that we wouldn't be able to reach the summit due to bad weather but I have friends who have done a successful ascent off season and so I was hopeful. But safety was an enormous priority and with happy vibes intact, we obeyed our guide and headed down quickly. 

I'm still determined to get to the summit next year! I shall see you again gorgeous Mt. Kanlaon. 

After our short adventure in Canlaon city, I parted ways with my hiking bud and I continued on a solo journey to Dumaguete (blog here). Arisse, thanks for joining this adventure. Til the next one!

Hiking Information  (Mapot-Mananawin Trail): 
How to Get to Canlaon City :
From Manila, fly via Cebu Pacific or PAL Express to Bacolod. From the South bus terminal in Bacolod, take a bus to Canlaon City (90 Pesos, 2.5 hours).  Ask the driver to drop you at Biak na Bato bus stop. We took the 1PM bus. There's most likely an earlier trip but I don't know what time. You have to be there at least one day before your hike to arrange the permit. Permits to Mapot trail can be secured at the DENR office in Biak na Bato in Canlaon CIty. If taking the Wasay trail, secure the permit at the DENR office in Bacolod

At Biak na Bato, hire a motorbike to the DENR office (60 Pesos/motorbike). 

Main Contact to Hiking Mt. Kanlaon: 
Sir Angelo Bibar - Park Superintendent of Mt. Kanlaon National Park (MKNP) 
Mobile Number : +63917-301-1410.  Telefax : +63 (34) 433-3813; 435-7411 
Email Address : angelobibar@gmail.com | eioibibar@yahoo.com
*Sir Angelo will email you all the relevant info. . Coordinate in advance (suggested advance coordination is 3 months ahead according to the info. sheet sent to us). You will be asked to submit mountaineer information,  booking form & notarized waiver form (Notary Public costs 150 Pesos at the Mandaluyong City Hall, bring or provide your representative a valid ID). 

Rates  (as of September 2013) : 
Permit Fee: Php300 for Filipino | Php500 for foreigner 
*Secure permit 
Guide:  Php700/day
Porter:  Php500/day
*Permit fee can be paid once you arrive in Bacolod/Canlaon City. 

When is the Best Time to Hike Mt. Kanlaon? 
"Mountaineering is open during the months of March to May and October to December.  The months of January, February, June, July, August, and September are low season wherein only one expedition party per trail per month is allowed.  In the event, however, that PAGASA declares weather disturbance and/or PHIVOLCS declares volcanic activity, the area shall be closed automatically from mountaineering." (Info. from Protected Area Mgt. Bureau, Mt. Kanlaon)

Official Trails to Mt. Kanlaon :
Wasay in Murcia; Guintubdan in La Carlota and Bago Cities; Mananawin and Mapot in Canlaon City.

Other Useful Blogs:
Pinoy Mountaineer : Wasay-Guintubdan Trail

Misadventures of Tintin : Mapot-Mananawin Trail 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Guest Post : My 2014 Holiday Wish List

I haven't written much lately and while I'm finishing some projects, I'm sharing with you a fellow traveler's Holiday Wish List. This gets me thinking about my own year-end adventure, (which I am yet to decide on :P). How about you,  what's yours? :)

I keep a diary. But it’s not for my personal musings and deep dark secrets. It’s where I write down my holiday wish list. Every time I come across a place that sounds truly incredible, I scribble it down at the bottom of an ever-growing list of must-see destinations.

My travel bucket list for 2014 is already two pages long. Whilst I won’t be able to visit them all, I have managed to narrow it down to three of my favourites.

Havana, Cuba
Prado, Havana, Cuba
Havana, Cuba (Credits : Rinaldo Wurglitsch)
The warm, colourful streets of Havana have been playing on my mind for a while now. As a big Hemingway fan, I feel like I’ve experienced his love for the city vicariously through his books. The thought of having a drink in the Floridita Bar, Papa’s favourite pub in Havana, makes me want to pack my bags and catch the next flight to Cuba today.

Something else on my Havana must-see list is the street art. The city is known as one of the biggest street art hubs in the world. Giant murals, many inspired by the Cuban Revolution, cover Havana’s walls and the sides of its buildings. Who needs art galleries when the city itself is a work of art?

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand’s famous beaches and Full Moon parties have an obvious appeal. However, it’s not the coastline that intrigues me, but the country’s mountainous northern region. Chiang Mai, approximately 700 km northwest of Bangkok, is Northern Thailand’s largest and most culturally-rich city.

Unlike Bangkok, it’s known for its laid back vibes and majestic natural landscape. Surrounded by mountains, Chiang Mai is also famously home to the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple. The temple sits atop Doi Suthep and remains a functioning monastery to this day. With so many comparison sites offering deals on flights to Thailand, this could be the cheap holiday 2014 I’m looking for.

Portland, Oregon, USA
Portland (Credits : Joe Shlabotnik)
It may be the hipster capital of the world, but there’s far more to Portland, Oregon than coffee shops and quirky moustaches. Although, I do hear the coffee shops are pretty incredible. Oh - and the food trucks too. Portland has been an under-the-radar foodie hub for a while now, and it was one of the first west coast cities to truly embrace food truck culture. To wash down all the tasty grub, there’s plenty of delicious craft beer to go around. Apparently you can’t walk more than a few blocks before running into a brewery.

In addition to the food, Portland’s city centre is filled with bridges of all shapes and sizes. As an architecture nut with a bit of a thing for impressive structural engineering, this is another side of Portland that appeals to me.

My goodness, you’d think that narrowing it down to three destinations would have been a step in the right direction. But now I think the decision’s even harder! Which do you think I should choose?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Going Solo in the City of Gentle People, Dumaguete

After a short hike up Mt. Kanlaon, my hiking bud Arisse and I went on separate adventures. From Canlaon City, Arisse traveled back to Bacolod for a quick food trip before catching an evening flight to Manila, while I rode a 4-hour van down Dumaguete City where I spent 3 days. 
Sibulan Airport near Dumaguete's city center
Known as a slow, quiet city where people are uber friendly, I knew it was the perfect place to hibernate as I was craving for time to just stop. 

As we had spent several days in Canlaon which is up in the mountains and twice more quaint that Dumaguete, I was slightly overwhelmed as I walked around the city center on the first day. There were vehicles zipping everywhere, several ATM machines and lots of huge building.  I soon got into the slightly quicker groove of things and in no time, I was wandering around on foot comfortably. 

The elevated tricycle along with motorbikes are the main mode of transportation
in the city.
I stayed at Harold's Mansion, a backpacker's lodge near Siliman University, established in 1901 and is the first American university in Asia. It's not just an educational institution but also a tourist  attraction with its old buildings, Acacia trees and its very own Marine  and anthropology museums.

Everyday, I walked along Rizal Boulevard, a strip of land lined with ginormous trees and a view of Dumaguete City bay, a treat to the eyes for nature-lovers! :) Across the boulevard, are restaurants and bars where locals and tourist hang out. 

Of all the trees along this airy boulevard, this is the one I fell in love with.  :) I am
amused how its branches stretches upward, like it's embracing the sky. 
Lookie, scattered cloud formations! :)
Food tripping was excellent too for all its cheap yummy food. I dined at Sans Rival cafe a couple of times which is popular for its silvanas and pastries.  In fact, many people come here just to buy silvanas. 

Since I came there frequently, I actually made friends with the guard who conversed with me in Bisaya. My little understanding of the dialect proved to be useful as I I was able to answer back in Tagalog. :P Kasabot ko gamay pero dili kaistorya. :P I need practice.

Breakfast is served at Sans Rival Bistro from 7AM-10AM which is right next door to
its cafe, Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries which opens at 9am. Sans Rival Bistro is quite elegant with waiters and chandeliers inside,a nice place to dine with a group.
Cookie Monster cake and a nice cup of brewed coffee at Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries.
I can't believe this delicious cake's only 29 Pesos while the cup of joe's at 30 Pesos!
A place which I truly enjoyed hanging out solo was at Mooon Cafe along Siliman Avenue. It's a Mexican-inspired cafe with attentive, smiley staff, colorful, interesting interiors and aptly priced drinks. 
On the Photo :  A cup of rice, Tangigue steak &   Pomelo and Mango shake.
I also tried the Gambas Al Ajillo (shrimps sauteed in olive oil). Bill was at 400 Pesos
which is fair enough.

Another treat which I drooled over was the fried ice cream at Panda's Ice Cream Haus. It's ice cream that's place in the middle of deep-fried dough. The place is open daily from 9AM-8PM and is a few blocks from Siliman University along Ma. Cristina Street. 
My first "meal" in Dumaguete (55 Pesos)

Those who love old buildings will also be intrigued with the Spanish inspired interiors of Cafe Antonio. Located at the second floor of the Spanish Heritage building along the corner of Santa Catalina and San Juan Street, one can find paintings and other interesting decors. It's open 10AM-11PM, Monday-Saturday.  Food I tried was decent although it's nothing that I'd be missing. I'm willing to go back and try more though.

Romantic ambiance at Patio Victoria inside Cafe Antonio
Slow, quiet time was what I craved for and it's what I got in the three days I was here.

Daghan salamat Dumaguete! :)

Travel Notes :
- Van from Canlaon City to Dumaguete departed at 11:00 AM and took 4 hours (185 Pesos). The terminal's near the city center and here's where you can also find the Ceres buses back to Bacolod city and to the nearby province of Cebu.  The scenic route passes by the national highway which has really awesome views of the turquoise waters of TaƱon Strait. There's also several resorts along the way. 

- If going back to Manila, take a tricycle to Sibulan Airport (it costs 50 Pesos/trike if you're at Hibbard Avenue where Harold's Mansion is). Airport Terminal fee's 75 Pesos as of (Sept. 2013). 

Budget Accommodation in Dumaguete :
If you're on a budget and traveling solo, try Harold's Mansion. It offers clean single rooms with t&b at 400 Pesos/night and comes with a free continental breakfast & unlimited cups of coffee at tea from 6AM-10PM. Breakfast is served at its roof deck, an airy open space with a great view of Mt. Talinis, one of the highest peaks in Negros island. From here, you can walk to Ibiza bar, Siliman University and the famous Rizal Boulevard (a 15 minute walk). Trike drivers know this place  a lot as it's a fave among backpackers. 

- Other good places to stay is Bethel Guesthouse (across Rizal Boulevard, really good location and close to restaurants) and One Bethany Place (a 10-Pesos trike ride away from Rizal boulevard) and walking distance from the pasalubong center, Sidlakang Negros Village.

- For other accommodation options, check out this helpful blog, Explore Dumaguete

Pasalubong Shopping :
Sidlakang Negros - along E.J. Blanco Drive in Piapi showcases delicacies and crafts from Negros Oriental
Bong Bong's - Robinson's Mall

Dumaguete Travel Itinerary? Pinoy Adventurista shared these very informative posts: :)
Pinoy Adventurista : Travel Guide to Dumaguete City
Pinoy Adventurista : Food Trippin in Dumaguete City

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gift Ideas for Traveling Loved Ones

September's here and in the Philippines, the first "Ber" month marks the start of this much-awaited holiday. Stores and television shows start playing Christmas songs while some families start putting up their Christmas trees. 

As I'm one of those who get overly excited over this holiday season, I've started hunting for gifts to loved ones and for myself :P (thinking about Kris Kringles/exchange gifts now). 

Here's a list of gift suggestions for your loved ones. I've excluded the items from an old post of mine, Gift Ideas for the Outdoor Hotties and if you want to get started with a hassle-free early Christmas shopping, visit Zalora's Christmas Rush Bazaar. It's arranged according to brands and category for easier browsing. ;)

1. Foldable Flip Flops/Shoes - for lady loved ones who are eternally running out of storage space in their bags or for those sisters who simply love packing it light. These foldable slippers and shoes are generally lightweight and durable. Lots of brands, both local (Suelas, Punchdrunk Pandas) and foreign (Flipsters),  are already available in stores around the Philippines. I've also read great things about Tieks  but I don't know if it's available locally yet. 
Redgirlshop's Dr. Scholl's for Her Fast Flats, Php 1,200.00 (Photo from Zalora.com.ph)
How Much? 500 Pesos above 
Where to Buy? R.O.X. carries Flipsters, Olympic Outlet, Zalora (Punchdrunk Panda, Spare Soles) 

2. Lagu Beach Blanket - now this is a gift that even a non-beach person like me wanted! The world's first beach-friendly blanket, Lagu repels sand which helps preserve our precious shores. It's available in 5 vibrant colors,  lightweight, dries quickly and is allergen-free, awesome for a whole day of lazing on your back. :P  
With the cool breeze whirling around while snugged under a Lagu, I couldn't help dozing off on a hammock
How Much? 999 Pesos
Where to Buy? Click here for a list of retailers

3. Scarf  - scarves are great because they not only protect you from the cold, it also spruces up your outfit. 

How Much? 100 Pesos above
Where to Buy? For cheap scarves go to Landmark Makati

4. Sleeping Accessories - let's not neglect the value of a good night's sleep. These accessories are great for those who are fond of overnight travels and riding sleeper trains. Inflatable pillows, ear plugs and eye masks are sleeping accessories that would be practical for frequent travelers. 

How Much? Inflatable Pillows retail at 200 Pesos while eye masks and ear plugs can cost as low as 100 Pesos each. 
Where to Buy? Olympic Outlet in Robinson's Forum, Handyman, Tickles  sells cute eye masks. :) 

5. Foldable Fan - traveling to humid locations will make one appreciate  a handy foldable fan. It's lightweight, shaped like small pita bread and takes up so little space! I've used mine on hiking trips and walking tours. :P 

How Much? 20-50 Pesos 
Where to Buy? You can find it in bazaars, online site Practical Packer

6. Scratch Map, Philippines Edition - do you know someone who's planning to set foot on all 80 provinces of the Philippines? Support them by giving them this scratch map! :) It measures 42 x 59 cm with gold foil stickers to peel off. It also contains useful information on Philippine festivals, regions, provinces and capitals.  

How Much? 1,350 Pesos

Where to Buy? Quirks Novelties & Curiosities (Do browse their website for other interesting travel-related accessories)

7. Dispatch, Indie Travel Issue - a handy compilation of travel and adventure stories from Filipino independent travelers & bloggers such as pinaytraveljunkie, Escape Islands, Wanderlass and more. It's produced by Dispatch Media, a website promoting travel & advocacy. It's also where I'm a current contributor. :P 

Photo from Dispatch Media FB Page
How Much? 200 Pesos
Where to Buy?  R.O.X  Branches : Bonifacio High Street, Ayala Cebu, Marquee Mall (Pampanga), Camp John Hay (Baguio), Centrio (CDO)
The Travel Club Branches : SM Megamall, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, TriNoma Mall, Abreeza (Davao), Ayala Cebu, Powerplant Mall, Newport Mall
Flight 001 BHS Central and Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street

8. Deuter Backpacks  - durable and gorgeous looking bags. It's design minimizes the weight on your back which makes it great for wandering around. I've been using these since 2006. I have one for work, for camping trips and for day hikes. I'm a big fan!
River crossing in Bataan. That's me using a Deuter Spider backpack. Photo from Arisse
How Much : 1,995 Pesos above
Where to Buy? R.O.X., Toby's, Chris Sports

Got anything to add on this list? Just write me a comment or send me a Tweet via @jovialwanderer (I reply much faster there). :) Advance Merry Christmas everyone! :) 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Guest Post : Take to the Seas this Summer

If you fancy a holiday that's a little bit different, why not try a cruise holiday this summer? Rather than sticking to one hotel and staying in the same resort for the duration of your holiday, a cruise offers a fantastic opportunity to explore many different  destinations without lifting a finger to get there.

For instance, you could set sail from Southampton and embark on a tour of some of the Med's most beautiful locations, such as the beautiful Balearic Islands and the sunny coast of Spain. Take a flying visit of Gibraltar, explore Portugal's historic city of Lisbon and take in the sights and sounds of friendly Malta.

If you've been there and done that, don't worry. Cruise holidays certainly don't start and finish with the Mediterranean - far from it! Why not discover other parts of Europe by river, and sail along the Danube from Budapest or discover the wine regions 

of Bordeaux? You could experience the magnificent Northern Lights by touring the Norwegian Fjords, or take your cruise holiday to new heights by sailing off to the sun-baked wonders of the Caribbean.

And if you really want to whip up a little adventure on your next holiday, why not fly to Canada's beautiful city of Vancouver and set sail for a week around Alaska? Or for the ultimate adventure, you can now book a round-the-world cruise and spend upwards of three months exploring some of the world's most beautiful and awe-inspiring landmarks.

Phew - how's that for an adventure of a lifetime? It's fair to say that cruising opens up a world of opportunities and thrilling experiences for just about every taste and budget imaginable. The only problem you'll have is deciding which one to choose. 

Your best bet is to search online through a tour operator like Cruise Thomas Cook. Take a look at their cruise page, here - http://www.thomascook.com/cruise/ and use the search panel to discover some of the wonderful itineraries on offer. You can filter the results by various criteria including price, destination and even ship to help you find the cruise holiday that best suits your preferences, as well as your budget.

So, where will your cruise holiday take you this summer?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Of Falls & True Friends

Strapped helplessly on a harness being lowered with a pulley in  a 20 feet steel cage, I let out bouts of panicky high-pitched screams. I didn't care that I'm 31 and with muscles  on the wrong places that makes me look that I wouldn't bat an eyelash if a knife was pointed at my throat,  I felt extremely afraid. My heart revolted against my chest and in seconds, my shirt was drenched with sweat. I was about to cry but the supposedly mature side of my head took over and I found myself, releasing several more piercing screams instead. 
Before I realized what was about to go down, I willingly put on a harness
A few meters above me, I hear the sound of sheer enjoyment that came from friends who were fully aware that I suffer from acrophobia. 

My friend Mors
My dear old,  "trust them with my life" kind of hiker friends who told me we were just going on a relaxing road trip and a visit to Pagsanjan Falls, which in my mind, (since I've never gone there), involved lazing on a boat and taking tons of landscape shots and group pictures. 

I managed to calm down before I reached the ground. But of course, I had to release my woes to someone. One of my best friends, Jules, who I've known for more than a decade was the first brave person to go down after me. In a calm, soothing, sisterly voice, she asked if I was okay.  I threw back a betrayed look and several accusing remarks, which only a true friend can tolerate and knows does not come from a hateful place but one that springs from over familiarity.  She understood exactly how I felt and how to appease me, like the true friend that she is. 
My friend Jules
Fear and anger dissipated as soon as the rest of my friends got down. I  soon found myself laughing again with them.  (Thanks to friends who knows how to push the right buttons and how much to push it.) It was also hard to retain ill feelings when you're surrounded by thick beautiful foliage. The weather was cool and I'm thankful for the giant tree trunks that shielded us from the wind.

After a 45-minute walk on a steep, winding set of metal stairs and another round of rappelling, we reached the base of one of the famous tourist spots in the Philippines, Pagsanjan Falls. Around 90 meters tall, it was named after its popular jump-off in the municipality of Pagsanjan. It's actual location however is in Cavinti, another municipality, 18.4 kilometers away via the  scenic Lumban-Caliraya-Cavinti Road.  
Due to the rain, the normally clear waters of Pagsanjan falls turned murky but we enjoyed the place anyway.
Sweaty and a little breathless from the hike, I madly took in our surroundings. The gorge where we emerged revealed enormous boulders along the river and as backdrop, a heavily forested mountain encroached with various species of trees. The cloudy skies highlighted the rich hues of greenery around us. Civilization felt like millions of miles away.

We were quickly ushered into a bamboo raft by local boatmen and joined by a big group of Korean tourists who came in colorful pink and green boats from Pagsanjan. 

The monstrous roar of the water was exhilarating and as we approached the  area under the falls  we all clung to the rope tied over the raft to avoid from being washed away. Everyone screamed with excitement. 

We were led towards a rock formation at the back of the falls where we took turns having our pictures taken by the friendly boatmen. 
At the back of the waterfalls
Everyone got so pumped up, I almost forgot that making our way back would be a little more challenging as we now have to lug all that body weight up on a vertical trail but this time, the scary steep views would be on our backs. It doesn't lessen my fear of falling though. 
Borrowed a boat to have our pictures taken on it. This was the boat used by those coming from Pagsanjan side.
I was happy when our guides decided to use a nature trail (after two more rounds of rappelling and some stairs climbing), supposedly a short cut that led directly to the parking lot. It was steep and slippery but being avid hikers, it was one that we were much more comfortable to tread. 

We capped our quick waterfalls adventure by bathing at Bumbungan Eco Park, a few minutes away from the entrance of Pueblo El Salvador, the primary jump-off to Pagsanjan Falls.
Happy friends. I was grateful to have a pair of Keen's Venice H2 (in blue)which had amazing traction and
very comfy on the soles, perfect for this waterfalls adventure. :)
Here, our need for quiet, relaxing time was fulfilled finally. :) 

Cavinti/Pagsanjan Falls
Barangay Tibatib, Cavinti, Laguna
Mobile Numbers : +63 918 9859-461 / +63 917-2066-110
Landline : 049 523 0012
Rate : 270 Pesos/Head
If entering via Pagsanjan, you need to pay 1,250 Pesos/head inclusive of safety equipment and boat ride
Website : www.cavinti.gov.ph
Facebook : Cavinti Tourism

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Hiking in Kyushu, Japan (Plus travel tips!)

On a recent overseas trip, I traveled south of Japan in  Kyushu, the country’s third biggest island. It was the end of March, the beginning ...

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Timeshare Resorts

Traveling is a fun but expensive hobby. A timeshare purchased on the resale market can help you save money on accommodation over time. If you decide to buy a timeshare, make sure to use the services of Primo Management Group
or Wesley Financial Group to exit the timeshare when you no longer wish to own it.

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