a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Team Building venue : Haranah Eco Park (Tanay, Rizal)

Summer's here, a season where a lot of companies and organizations plan getaways for its employees or members. If you're looking for a venue to hold your team building, conference or seminar near Manila that's close to nature, consider Haranah Eco Park
A wide open space for your activities
Located in Tanay, Rizal, this 16.2 hectare family-owned eco park offers its visitors a expansive venue to unwind while enjoying generous views of the Sierra Madre mountain range. 

With its proximity to the mountains, the weather is cool year-round and gets even colder  at night, a nice contrast from the heat in the lowlands. 
Scenic mountain views from the Bahay Kubo
Getting here takes around 1.5 hours from Quezon City and 2 hours from Manila with moderate traffic.  It passes MARILAQUE (short for Marikina, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon) highway,  a well-paved road offering scenic mountain views and rocky peaks, a reason why it's  frequented by bikers. 
Established friendly hiking trails
Haranah Eco Park offers the perfect venue for its visitors to interact with each other without the modern day distractions. In place of television and radio are nature's sounds. Cellular network connectivity is limited to Smart and Sun users.  It's a good place to disconnect and do some reflection. 

In line with its mission to promote environmental awareness, some of the flowers and trees along the hiking trail have tags containing its common & scientific name, description and region of origin. Being a plant lover, it was nice to just walk around and look at plants and know its name. (Related post : Tree trekking with Haribon)

Other activities you can do here include hiking, mini obstacle course,  bonfire in designated spots, rock balancing, a form of art where rocks are stacked without the use of adhesives or other materials.  You can also bathe in a small natural pool which can be hiked down a  very steep hill. 

For more information on Rock Balancing, visit their Facebook page here.
Trying out rock balancing with my  fellow bloggers Joshua Berida  and Julia who's on assignment for Langyaw.com
Tent accommodation with foam mattresses are offered. You can also bring your own tents but pitching is allowed in designated areas to preserve the beauty of the place. The camping grounds is on a well-tended grassy area close to trees and surrounded with flowering plants. The restrooms and shower area  is also a couple of feet away so no need to worry about going to the toilet in the middle of the night. 

They also have a kitchen you can use but availing of their food service is also a good idea because they serve good food! The multi-purpose hall which also serves as the dining area is an excellent spot to watch the sunset or just stare at the Sierra Madre mountain range. There's also another area in the property where you can witness a beautiful sunrise. 
Breakfast with a view at Haranah Eco Park's multi-purpose hall and dining area
Facilities : 
Solar-powered multi-purpose hall (seating capacity : 200)
Bahay kubo
View deck and lounge (seating capacity : 15)
Conference Hall (seating capacity : 40)
Amphitheater which can be a venue for outdoor lectures
Designated bonfire areas
Geodesic domes for planting herbs and spices
Hiking trail with stone steps 
Kitchen
Admin building & Clinic
Shower hall and restrooms
Basketball court

Currently, Haranah Eco Park is by reservation only and for big groups, a minimum of 40. In April however, they will be accepting  solo  or small groups. You just need to book in advance. Details provided below. 

Day Tour
April 13,14,15,16, 2017
Fee : P1,000
Inclusions :  a day tour with set lunch
For reservations, contact +63(02)376-6645 or +63 (02)411-6567 or send them an email at postmaster@haranahecopark.com.ph. 

Camping with a small group 
Haranah Eco Park now accepts smaller groups with a minimum of 10 persons. 
The rate is 3,200 Pesos inclusive of tent accommodation, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner and bonfire on the first day, then breakfast and morning snack the next day. To book, get in touch with them directly. Contact details are listed below. 

Other places to visit in Tanay?
Calinawan Cave which can be combined with a side trip to Daranak Falls (blog to follow)
Regina RICAa pilgrimage site and a place for contemplation (blog to follow)
Hiking destinations in Tanay by Pinoy Mountaineer
Tanay Travel Guide by Travel Up

Haranah Eco Park
Sitio Mayagay 2, Barangay Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal
Contact Number : +632-376-6645
Email : postmaster@haranahecopark.com.ph
Facebook Page : http://facebook.com/haranahecopark

Note : This trip was in collaboration with the Tourism Promotions Board and Haranah Eco Park, the marketing arm of DOT (Department of Tourism, Philippines). 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Booking a Nice & Budget-Friendly Hotel via the Traveloka App

Most of my travels are short and involve a mountain hike so I’m often dirty and tired (but still all smiles!) at the end of the day.  After an adventure, all I want is to be able to change my clothes and rest somewhere nice, so if I’m spending a night or two away from home, I always, always make it a point to book my accommodation in advance so I could get comfortable rooms at better deals and spend what I saved up on food or perhaps for another trip (but it will be most likely on food. :P).
Traveloka is a fairly new booking site where you can snag cheap flights and hotel bookings. Making it even more easier and convenient for travelers is its app which I recently downloaded. Its clean, highly-responsive and user-friendly interface is delightful. At its homepage, you can easily navigate your away around whether you’re looking for a flight, hotel or just checking out ongoing promos. 

I've recently used the Traveloka App to book a hotel for my next hiking trip in Pangasinan. To find a good deal, I clicked on “ongoing promos.” Fortunately, there was one that was ending on the same day so I took advantage! The deal was for a hotel discount of up to 50% off if I completed a booking within the promo period.

I entered “Pangasinan” at the Destinations and my check-in dates. I blurred out my travel dates in below screenshot but on the app itself, you’ll be able to select and see the dates. 
After clicking the “Search” button, the app immediately led me to all the available properties on my travel dates. The variety of options by which you can sort out the accommodation is really useful. If budget is a concern, you can sort by “Price” (the icon to sort is at the bottom of the page).  Just make sure it’s not too far from where you’re going so you don’t overspend on transportation costs. 
When choosing an accommodation, I always check out the reviews within the app and on other sites  (other blogs, review sites, Facebook pages). On the app, Traveloka shows feedback from the popular travel review site, TripAdvisor.

There are several options located all over Pangasinan, which is an enormous province so I opened up Google maps on my laptop as well to check the proximity of the hotel from my destination. In the end,  I chose Hotel Monde in Dagupan for its excellent location, reviews online and its reasonable price. 

When booking through apps or websites, I only do the actual booking once I’ve made up my mind. This way, I avoid making errors or encountering a website timeout which is an additional hassle since you need to verify if your booking went through. 
After pressing “Select Room”, I was led to another page that showed the price, room details and the cancellation policy. 

 For a stylish private room with shower located near the city center, plus the promo discount, I thought this was a fair deal.

After finalizing my room choice, I provided my contact details. On this page, you can specify whether you’re booking for yourself or for another person. You can also enter your special requests such as a room away from the main road, late check-in, late check-out, etc. You will also see the price at the bottom of the page. After pressing “Continue”I was led to another page where I saw my booking details  again and this makes it easier for you to review and make revisions on your booking before you pay. (Note : Actual travel dates were blurred on below screenshot)
I clicked “Continue” and this led me to the payment page. 

Traveloka App provides you with a variety of payment methods. For convenience, you can pay through credit or debit card. You can also pay at 7 Eleven stores, M Lhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier and through banks BDO, BPI, Metrobank. BDO, Landbank, UCPB, RCBC and Chinabank. Note that Traveloka gives you a specific timeframe to make a payment and while there are several payment options, some may not be available at the time of your booking. When paying through banks, it is best to do it during their business hours. 

Credit card has always been my preferred payment mode as I can get instant confirmation and it’s more hassle-free for me.  (If you want to check out how payment goes through via bank payment, check out Lakas ng Trip’s Post here)

In below screenshot, you’ll notice a time frame beside each payment method. That is the number of hours/minutes you have to make a payment to secure your booking.
On the next page, I entered my card details. Before paying, I applied the coupon code which I copied from the “Ongoing Promos” section and  gleefully saw the room rate reduced to 50% off. Yay!
I clicked “Pay Now” to finalize my payment. Since I used a credit card enabled with a verification code for online payments, I had to enter the code sent to me which took less than a minute.  After I received confirmation that payment was successful, I received a text right away confirming my booking then after another minute, I received my Traveloka voucher containing my booking details along with a receipt. 

In a matter of minutes, I was able to book a room through Traveloka’s user-friendly app. My stay will be in May and I will update this post to tell you how it went.:) 

Check out my posts on hiking here.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review : Supremo 4K Action Camera for the Everyday Adventurer

I'm always out on a hike and for convenience sake, I use my phone to take photos and videos. However, I’m not comfortable bring it out all the time especially when there’s water involved such as river trekking, canyoneering or kayaking. 
Supremo 4K action camera
Thankfully, Supremo Philippines sent me their latest action camera to try, the Supremo 4K which can take 4K videos and quality photos up to 16MP. When put inside its waterproof casing, you can bring it underwater up to 30 meters, so that's around 98 feet. That's deep enough to enable you to take shots while snorkeling as most spots are close to the reef. 

It came in a nice box and packed with an overwhelming number of accessories which you can use to attach or mount the camera depending on your adventure. 

Here’s a list of what you’ll get along with the Supremo 4K camera :
Supremo wrist remote, Waterproof case + replacement backdoor, Frame, Quick Release buckle, J-hook buckle, 360-degrees rotating swivel arm, 3-way pivot arm + thumb screws, Lock bolt, Flat mount, Curved mount, Clip mount, Handlebar mount, Safety tether, Straps, 3M Adhesives, Rechargeable batteries (you get 2 for each unit!). Wall charger, USB Cable and User manual

Technical Specs : (Skip  this part if you're like me who's not quite keen on the technical specs. To be honest, the only thing I was interested in was knowing how deep I could use it underwater, hehe!) 
Lens angle - 170 degrees, 7G A+ FIsheye Super Wide Angle Lends
Screen - 2.0" LCD screen (960*240)
Video - 4K at 24fps, 2.7K at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps video quality
Photo - 16MP (20MPx interpolated/14MP/12MP/10MP/8MP/5MP JPEG
Battery - 1000mAh, 3.7V lithium battery
Waterproof - maximum at 30 meters
Ports - HDMI Mini (Type D) and USB 2.0 ports 
Memory Card - 4GB to 32GB Micro SD Card (sold separately)
Diving Mode - Red light compensation function in diving mode 

Supremo has its own app which can turn your mobile phone or tablet into a remote. It also allows you to  easily view and share videos and photos on Social Media!  Download Supremo in Android or iOS 

Note that you'll need a Micro SD card to be able to use it. As mentioned above, it's not included in the unit but other retail stores may offer it. Supremo recommends using a Class 10 MicrosSD card with at least 48mb/s writing speed to enjoy seamless HD and 4K video recording. The memory card can be expanded up to 32GB. I'm currently using a 32GB Samsung Evo microSD  which I bought from Lazada. I haven't had any issues with it so far. Transferring files from my camera to the laptop is quite fast. I just plug the cable in, select Mass storage from the camera and I can easily view the files and videos. 

Supremo 4K retails between 3,680-6500 Pesos depending on where you buy it. It's 3,680 Pesos at Kimstore as of this writing.  I posted a list where you can buy Supremo 4K below. 

I’m also sharing with you this informative unboxing video which I found online by Life is Kulayful and Manila Shaker. Click here.

So, how do I find Supremo 4K?  
Like I've said, I’m not a very techy person. In fact, when I opened my Supremo 4K, I felt a bit intimidated but following the manual and user guide  was quite easy and in about 30 minutes, I felt comfortable using it. Don’t lose it!  

As an ordinary user who just wants to take nice photos and videos as keepsakes, I’m quite satisfied and would happily recommend Supremo 4K to everyone who is looking for a budget-friendly action camera that takes quality photos and videos. I also swim in a pool about 1-3 times a week and I love how I can record my swim sessions so I can see how I'm doing since I normally swim alone.  It‘s also worth noting that you would may need to change or experiment with the settings to fit to your liking. I can’t deal with poor image quality and I don’t like editing too much so I searched online for suggestions on the proper settings. 

Supremo 4K sample photo#1
I only cropped it a bit as my hand popped in the screen :P. 
Settings : 
Photo size - 8MP
Picture quality - fine
HD On

The sky was really dark and cloudy when I took the shot and there's a bit of fog at the peak. 
Taken on a hike at Manabu peak in Batangas
Supremo 4K sample photo #2  
I didn't edit this in any way. This was taken deep in the forest so it's also a bit dark when I took it. 
Papaya river at Mt. Tarak, Bataan
Supremo 4K sample raw video 
Settings : 1080P 30fps

*When watching a video on YouTube, remember to update the viewing quality (click the settings button near the bottom right of the video on YouTube) as default view might be a low resolution. 480p is clear enough and easier to load if your internet access is slow. 

More sample clips here :

Tip : Should you need more sample videos taken with Supremo 4K, just type "Supremo 4K" on the search box  on YouTube. 

As for durability, I’ve only been using it for about two months so I can’t give a fair verdict yet. I’m the type who absentmindedly drops stuff (which is why my phone is in a reliable Otterbox case :P). You can ask me again on Instagram after a few months if you’re curious to know if my Supremo 4K is still functioning. My IG user ID is @Jovialwanderer.

To help you make a decision, you can also check out what other users have to say about Supremo 4K in this Facebook GroupI'm not sure if it’s affiliated in any way with Supremo Philippines but it’s helpful.  It's a closed group so you need to join to view the content.  

Where to buy Supremo4K in the Philippines?
Abenson, Ambassador, Automatic, AV Surfer, D'24K, Electroworld, F8 Photo, 
Globe Telecom Stores, IGIG, J&R Appliances, Kimstore.com, Lazada.com, M20 Enterprise, 

Macys Camera Shop, Photoline, PRG Photo Shop, The Landmark Corp and SupremoWorld.com

Supremo World 
Facebook Page :  facebook.com/supremoworld 
Website : http://supremoworld.com/

Here are other reviews on Supremo 4K which you may want to check out :
Pinoy Adventurista
Justin Vawter

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