Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Discover Treats from Around the Globe with World Bites

Here's some exciting news for you fellow adventurous foodies!

If you're curious about snacks from other countries and want to try some,  head to World Bitesa new online store and subscription box service  offering popular international snacks.

For those who are not familiar with a subscription box service - it's basically paying a service provider a fixed fee per month to curate stuff  and send it to you. It's for people who want to try new things but don't have the time or the patience to research on what's good to try. In the Philippines, I've seen subscription box services on books and cosmetics but food is quite new. 
Trying out some snacks from World Bites
Related Post : Gift ideas for travelers and outdoor lovers 

Two weeks ago, I received a World Bites Classic Box which contained a selection of 10 snacks from various countries in Asia, Europe and North & South America.  I opened the package with my siblings and friends -  open-minded foodies who welcome new flavors.  

We got really excited pulling out snacks from the box one at a time. It was amusing to find out which countries it came from!  We actually yelled the countries as though we're announcing contestants in a beauty pageant, haha! 

Here are the snacks we tried out : 

Photo from World Bites

Kurkure Masala Munch from India are shaped like Cheetos - orange, crunchy, short sticks and filled with strong flavors. My brother commented, "it tastes like India in a snack". Being a fan of herbs, I actually enjoyed its salty, mildly spicy and tangy taste.  

After consuming  salty food, I always crave for something sweet, so we opened the Crvenka Jaffa Cakes next. Originating from Serbia, these chocolate-covered  biscuits with orange jelly has been around for 30 years now. It crumbled easily, a bit messy to eat, but I liked the mix of citrus and chocolate. 

Hanuta. Photo from World Bites
If you love Nutella, you'll surely enjoy the familiar flavor of hazelnut from Ferrero Hanuta! This wafer snack from Germany is crispy, aptly sweet, perfect for cheat days or that time of the month when we ladies crave for sweets. The pack can be consumed in one sitting and not fun to share with others, haha! :P 

My sister and I are huge football fans and another country which we associate to the world's most popular sport is 5-time World Cup winners, Brazil! Finding a snack from the same country turned out to be  a nice surprise.  Nestle Passatempo are biscuits  with milk chocolate filling - you can't go wrong with that. :) 

I love eating falafel,  balled up chickpeas usually served with a pita. Ossem Bisli Falafel from Israel has recreated its flavors wonderfully into thin, noodle crisps. (Foodie tip : If you want to try some good falafel, the real deal, visit Beni's Falafel in Makati!)

All the way from Romania, Eugenia Original biscuits are crisp sandwich biscuits with a generous and enjoyable filling of cocoa and rum cream. 

Takis Fuego. Photo from World Bites
Trying out Barcel Takis Fuego, a snack claiming to be the hottest chips on earth was intimidating.  These  corn chips from Mexico are red, matching the color of red peppers. It looked so spicy, but after taking a careful, small bite, I realized it wasn't so bad. While it is too spicy for my taste, I enjoyed the flavor of lime which was mixed in it. One bite is all it took for me to move to the next snack but another friend enjoyed it and actually finished off the entire pack. 

Samai Jungle Chili Plantain Chips from Ecuador puts a nice twist to plantain chips. Instead of the usual sugar or honey, the chips are mixed with jungle chili and medium hot spices, making it tolerable to the palate. 

Another treat for those with a sweet tooth is Ahlgrens Bilar Original. Originating from Sweden, these car-shaped  marshmallows are chewy and fruity. It's not too sweet, something you can have to get you to the next big meal. 

I've seen Nestle Violet Crumble around but I don't remember ever tying it out.  First made in 1913, this bar made of creamy chocolate with a honeycomb in its center is one of Australia's favorite chocolate bars.

Being a curious foodie, it was a great experience trying out a World Bites Classic box. The selection of snacks were quite good - a mix of flavors - sweet, salty and spicy. Serving size is good for one person but it's really fun to open everything at the same time and try it out with a group. It's also a nice gift idea  for your foodie loved ones. 

If you missed my blog giveaway, visit World Bites to order a box of snacks from around the globe now. 

About the website:
The Worldbites website has a clean, straightforward  and user-friendly interface.  
From the main page, you can easily find the "Subscribe" and "Shop" buttons - two ways you can buy from them. 

Clicking "Shop" shows you all the available snacks you can order while "Subscribe" button provides instructions on how you can receive snacks per month. The subscription plans are quite flexible ranging from 1-12 months in case you want to try it out for a month or so. In case you're trying to limit your food intake, you can also choose from a World Bites Mini which contains 5-6 snacks or World Bites Classic which has 10-11 snacks. :) For a World Bites Mini, rates range from 499-595 Pesos per month and 998-1190 Pesos/month for the World Bites Classic, depending on the subscription. For subscription details, go here

The Helpdesk contains frequently asked questions  and if if you have more questions, there is a customer chat box on the lower right part of the page.

Buy a box and try it out with friends or family as part of a bonding activity or it can also be a gift for your foodie loved ones.  Ahem! :P

Related Read : Cosmo Philippines - A Cute Gift Idea for the Traveler (And foodie) in your Life

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hiking in Samal Island, Davao del Norte

A view at Puting Bato Peak
Samal island in the province of Davao del Norte is known for its beautiful beaches but if 
you’re craving for a refreshing mountain scenery, there's a nice trail going up Puting Bato. At 410 MASL, it is the island's highest peak, offering views of the sea and nearby mountains.  Its name, translated to English is White Rock, drawn from a prominent white limestone wall at its peak. 

From Davao City, I took an Island City Express bus to Samal Island. The bus also stops to pick up passengers at Magsaysay Park but to get good seats, I took a cab to the terminal along F. Bangoy Street. Taking a  bus was quite convenient. I didn't even need to get off when the bus got to the port as crossing time only takes about 15 minutes! Another entry point is at Sta. Ana Wharf where motorboats take passengers straight to Kaputian and Talikud islands.  
Ferry to Samal Island. I was seating inside the bus when I took this shot! :)
At Babak wharf, the bus continued its journey to Penaplata, its last stop. From the terminal, I boarded a motorbike and the driver took me to the jump-off at Guilon, the longer and steeper of the two entry points to Puting Bato peak.  To maximize my day trip, I decided Ito do a traverse - go up via Guilon then back down via the shorter and easier trail at Brgy. Tayapoc. 

As we parted ways, the driver expressed concern about leaving me alone but I assured him I'll contact him  if I ran into some issues. He  wanted to come along but he said he is no longer fit to hike.  

When he finally left, I felt a familiar sense of excitement of seeing a new mountain and setting off on a new trail! :) 
The white limestone wall at the peak where Puting Bato got its name

As it was my first visit, I decided to look for a guideA local I met near the jump-off  called on his nephew to accompany me to the peak. 

The trail is mildly steep all the way passing through a clear path filled with trees on both sides.  I was breathing quite heavily all throughout but thankfully, it only took less than an hour to get to the campsite where  I rested on a bench and  paid an entry fee of 10 Pesos. From here, you can see a view of the ocean and nearby islands. 

After resting, my guide gave me directions to the summit. I paid him 150 Pesos, the rate we agreed on and parted ways.  The peak is only 10-15 minutes away through an exposed trail with grasses taller than my 4'11 feet frame. 

After the grassland, the view got even more beautiful. Another hut, fascinatingly built on a ravine, served as a view deck and rest area. 

Walking further up, I walked in a middle of a large garden surrounded with colorful flowers - bright pink, orange, yellow, purple!  A signage said I was at Huyong-Huyong Mountain Park. Yellow benches strategically placed near the cliffs offered views of the sea. 

A group of dogs started barking at me which caught the attention of the occupants of the hut, a woman and a child.  Here, I  wrote on my name on a log book and paid another entrance fee of 10 Pesos. 

I  ran into another gated area and waved to some locals and started to make my way down. I think there's a trail here that leads to the area just below the white limestone wall but I  skipped it because was beginning to feel tired. I made my way down towards Brgy. Tayapoc. Some hikers enter the mountain on this side where the trail to the summit takes about 30 minutes. 

When I got to the jump-off, I asked some locals for some directions to Canibad, the closest beach. There is a trail that takes another hour but to save my energy for swimming, I decided to flag a passing motorbike. The driver, a young guy who looked like he couldn't be more than 16 years old, was impressive. He knew how to navigate the super bumpy road towards Canibad quite well. It was an uncomfortable ride which was actually felt more tiring than earlier's hike. 

The driver picked a resort and let me off. A huge signboard that said "Canibad Adventures starts here" welcomed me. I couldn't see any people or even the water.  Living up to its name, the path towards the water is on this super steep dirt trail down a cliff!

As though I was hiking a second mountain, I was sweaty, breathless and feeling annoyed by the time I got to the resort's main entrance but the annoyance brought by fatigue (incidentally, it was also that time of the month making me feel more moody than usual :P), quickly disappeared as soon as I saw the beach. While the shore is filled with pebbles and rocks, the water is beautiful -  still as a river and as clear as a pool! There were many people but the groups were well spread that you can get a quiet spot and enjoy. 

The resort charge a minimal entrance fee of 20 pesos. Cottages can be rented for 250-350 Pesos but since I was alone, I just walked to the beach, put my backpack by the shore and jumped in the water in my hiking clothes. Though water was clear, I felt a strong current pulling me out towards the sea so I stayed in the shallow area. 

Fellow visitors were very friendly and I actually felt like I could walk up to anyone and join their group but I was really enjoying my time alone, I didn't have too. The water just felt so nice! 
Canibad Beach in Samal island
After swimming, I walked up to another resort to use their shower facilities. I wanted to get a nice, heavy meal but unfortunately, there's not much food around here but snacks. 

I dreaded the steep set of stairs I had to take to get back to the main road so I walked around a bit in search of a gentler way up. I did find one - a concrete stairs with smaller steps. It was easier indeed but still tiring. 

Lunch was at Aznebo Grill and Restaurant, a popular food establishment in the island
 offering delicious Filipino dishes  that come at affordable prices (around 100 Pesos for a combo meal). 

By 6:00 PM, I was back in Davao city exploring its restaurants! :P 

As a first time visitor to Samal island, experiencing its greener side turned out to be a wonderful surprise. A return trip is in order!

Samal island is among the destinations featured in this helpful interactive beach map from Expedia. Visit the site to learn more of the country's breathtaking  island getaways. 
How to get to Puting Bato Peak
From Davao City, board a Island City Express Bus. 
The terminal is at F. Bangoy Street but it will also make a stop at Magsaysay Park. 
Fare to Penaplata is 50 Pesos. From the terminal, you can board a habal-habal to the jump-off.  

As of November 2016, the only fees being paid are the ones located at the rest stops on the mountain. Guides are not required especially when entering via Brgy. Tayapoc as the trail is established. However, if taking the Guilon trail for the first time,  it is recommended to get a guide. It's a longer trail that takes 1-2 hours and has some forks along the way. There is no established guide system but you can always ask around. If hiring a guide all the way to the summit and back, a rate of 200-250 Pesos would be fair.

Other sights to visit : Kaputian beach, Taklobo Clam sanctuary and Hagimit Falls

Monday, December 5, 2016

Blog Giveaway c/o World Bites : Win a Box of Treats from Around the Globe!

Are you the adventurous type who loves traveling and trying out new food? Are you willing to book a flight or ride a boat solely just to eat?  (No judgement, I'm that way too! :P See related post, Samar-Leyte in a Day


Well hello there kindred soul! Have I got a treat for you! :)

Last week, I received a box of snacks from World Bites, a newly launched  online store and subscription box service  offering popular international snacks  you rarely see in retail stores around the Philippines. 
World Bites website, http://worldbites.ph/
Seeing treats I haven't tried got me really excited and before I could stop myself (I had just taken my breakfast),  I'd already open four bags. I was with my siblings  at the time and we all enjoyed trying it out. The selection of snacks were a variety of sweet, spicy and salty, over-all, a nice combination of flavors.  Coming from a family of foodies, it also turned out to be a nice bonding activity for us. I'll write a separate review about what we've tried on another post. :) 

For now, here's a preview of what World Bites offers. 
Snacks from Korea, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, India, Canada, France, Romania,  Serbia,
Mexico, Israel, Sweden and Brazil, whew!
Though I have mixed feelings about sharing food (why share when you can eat everything, diba?), the saner, kinder side of me  prevailed - must be from ingesting all those cookies earlier, haha! I'm extending the joy of discovering treats from around the world through a a giveaway! The mechanics are  super simple. Just follow instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. 

Up for grabs :  World Bites Mini  Box -  contains 5-6 snacks, the contents' a surprise! :) 
Who can join?  Open to foodies residing in the Philippines only
World Bites will ship the prize free of charge via Xend so if you won, please expect to be asked for your full name and shipping details. :) 

One winner will be drawn via Rafflecopter and announced on my Twitter account, @jovialwanderer and on this post by December 12! :)  I will get in touch with the winner. :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And we have a winner! :) Congratulations Rain Gatdula! I just sent you an email a few minutes ago.  Please check your inbox or Spam folder. 

If you can't wait for the blog giveaway (who has the EQ to wait for food?!), you can start shopping by visiting their website, http://worldbites.ph/. You can purchase the items by piece or surprise yourself with a box of snacks every month by availing of their subscription service (1, 3, 6 and 12 month terms available). 

To receive updates quickly,  follow World Bites on their social media accounts -> Facebook Page : World Bites PH | Twitter : @worldbitesph  | Instagram : @worldbitesph

Friday, December 2, 2016

Gift Ideas for Outdoor Lovers & Travelers

Christmas is fast approaching and if you're still hunting for presents,  this post is for you! :) Here are some  recommendations on what to give to your adventurous, wandering loved ones. 

Not celebrating Christmas? You can also make this part of your wish list or as a present for another occassion!:)

Note : I've excluded some items which I've already featured on previous years' lists (For more gift ideas, see past lists here, 2011 | 2013You'll still find most of them in the market! ;) 

Rockies peak, Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas
Mountain Hike
Do something fun and challenging together by visiting a mountain!
Here's a good resource on organizing a DIY hike, Top 6 Hiking Spots Near Manila Ideal for Romantic Dates  (Update : Pico de Loro which appears #5 on the list is  closed indefinitely for hiking activities.)

Spending a night out of town? Get discounts on unique accommodations here.  

Not much into hiking? Check this post by The Poor Traveler for other travel ideas, 15 Cheap but Awesome Destinations Near Manila

Day Hikes and Nature Walks from Manila - written by Pinoy Mountaineer, Dr. Gideon Lasco, this handy guidebook provides information, itineraries and topographic maps of worthwhile hiking destinations near Manila. 

Where to Buy : R.O.X. Marque Mall - Pampanga, R.O.X. Ayala Center – Cebu, and Solidaridad Bookshop in Padre Faura, Manila.
Price : 390 Pesos
For orders of 5 or more books, you can order by email at info@pinoymountaineer.com (with free delivery nationwide!)

AKYAT! A Filipino's Journey to the Seven Summits - through this book, veteran mountaineer, Romi Garduce shared his journey, struggles and anecdotes on climbing the highest peak of each of the seven continents, dubbed as the Seven Summits. He is the first and currently, the only Filipino to have completed this feat. 
Where to Buy : Central Bookstores, Amazon & R.O.X. stores. 
Price : 499 Pesos
Romi Garduce's team climbing Vinson Massif, highest peak in Antartica (Photo from Primer Group of Companies)
Inspired by these books to explore the outdoors? Click here to get good discounts on flights, hotels and vacation packages around the Philippines and overseas. 

Make sure your loved ones are getting enough sustenance while they're out on an adventure. Look for  those that are easy to pack, low in sugar and high in protein such as energy gels, and sports bars. Brands I've tried are Nice & Natural (available in Rustan's Supermarket, Pioneer Center in Mandaluyong).  You can also find those in Healthy Options stores. Energy Gels are available in sports stores such as Toby's, R.O.X., Multi-sport stores (Stinger or GU works for me). Note : The effectiveness of energy gels varies from person to person. Do find out which brands they use before giving it to them. 
A sample of some of the food you can put in your gift box
Buying footwear for you loved ones can be a little tricky - it may not fit or  it just might not be their style. A safer alternative are a pair of socks. Specifically designed for hiking or running, these provide maximum comfort and offer extra protection from chaffing and injury. 

Here are two local brands which has good reviews online. 
Price Range : 399-1,200 Pesos/pair depending on model
Where to Buy :  Basekamp branches and online through their Facebook page, Ahon.PH.

Vamos Socks 
Price Range : 395 Pesos/Pair-795 Pesos (bundle of 3). 
Where to Buy : Visit their website, wearvamos.com for a list of retailers or to purchase online. 

Surprise them by flying them to their favorite destination or a place they've never been! 

Not sure which destinations to book? Check out this helpful article posted on recommendation from the travel gurus at Lonely Planet for their Best Destinations for 2017

Need to spend a night in Manila or in Hong Kong? Visit this link to avail of discounted hotel rates. 

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