Thursday, February 28, 2008

apo island

do at least 3 dives. that's the only thing solid in our plan. we didnt have accomodation on the island (there were only 2 resorts and they were both fully booked) and we didnt arrange for any transportation too. yup we were a lazy bunch.

from dumaguete, we hired a multicab to take us to malatapay market - the jump-off point to apo island. the trip took us around 40 minutes(300 pesos).

we took a pumpboat to take us to apo from the malatapay pier in the town of zamboanguita. their tiny pumpboat(1500 pesos round trip) could only squeeze in 5 people so i joined another boat. thats me with the 4 american teachers we met in the pier. we were drenched on most of the 45 minute ride.

our house in the island. 700 pesos a night. we had to pay for our bathwater though - P5 per container plus P6 for the kariton service(cart) - paid a total of 250 pesos. the best part was that the house was just around 100 meters from the awesome! awesome! marine sanctuary - we snorkeled in the morning, we snorkeled in the afternoon...

our first dive site was the chapel. we saw lots of interesting creatures like this cute black and yellow polkadot nudibranch.

and of course the resident yellow frogfish(upside down) was there.

and its neighbor - the pretty blue ribbon eel. we couldnt get too close though because it will hide on the ground upon our slighest move.

a cranky looking green sea turtle. it was huge but we were afraid to come near it, jao was saying it might bite. it had 2 passenger remoras on its back.

sym and the very lush coral garden. jao nicknamed it as "the salad", hitik daw.

when we're not diving, you'll probably find us snorkeling in the marine sanctuary. this is me checking out the nemo city. even if you dont dive, apo is still amazing. some folks we met just snorkel and they saw turtles and school of jacks in the sanctuary. plus its quite liberating to just swim without all those tanks and regs.

tomato clownfish

a classroom just beside the sanctuary. lucky lucky students. sym was wondering if they werent distracted by people coming in and out. not that there were a lot of us. i only saw a handful of visitors in the island, and that includes the 4 teachers we met in the pier.

kids playing near our house

sym, jao and me having breakfast at liberty's

apo island's dive sites. they have a vacant spot for a dive guide. about time they have a woman guide! jao? lala? sym?

buddies cath and anet on their intro to dive

our 2nd dive's highlight(cogon divesite) was the large school of jacks. according to future dm jao, the jacks love the current - they swim against it to hunt for food.

they were on our left and right...

and above us too! jacks all around us :)

this is me and the jacks. dazed eh? the current was strong so we had to hold on to rocks. dive guide dex told us if we just learn how to relax - we didnt need to hold on to something. and just float like the fishies. but how to do it? how???

golden damselfish from our 3rd dive. from rock east dive site, we were supposed to go all the way to the rock west but the current was too strong so we made a u-turn for the sanctuary

jao, lala and sym chasing the hawksbill turtle! (marine sanctuary)

thats my bony hand wanting so much to touch the hawksbill turtle. but of course we cant touch it

kilometer markings on the concrete posts in the island

next thing we knew, our pumpboat was already waiting to take us back to malatapay. i didnt have time to take pictures of the island so i just tried shooting while we're walking back to the boat. here's the island's chapel just near the docking area.

at night, when the island's lights are all turned off - the sky is spectacular. we just laid out my sarong on the beach and watched the stars, watched the planktons lighten up with the crashing waves.

how to get there:

from cebu, we were supposed to take the oceanjet fast ferry bound for dumaguete but we found out from the pier's security guard that the ferry crashed a few days ago. we decided to take the alternative route - from the cebu south terminal take the ceres bus bound for bato-liloan(3 hrs), then take the ferry to sibulan dumaguete(15 mins), then grab a multicab to rizal boulevard(20 mins). it was a very good idea. less than 4 hours, compared to the 4 hour oceanjet ferry ride. and cheap too(P200 versus P800).

from rizal boulevard (where we met the rest of the group), we took a multicab bound for malatapay market. (P300 for 40 minutes)

malatapay market is the jump-off point to apo island. P1500 for 1 boat good for 5 people (roundtrip)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sa El Nido Town

after our 3 days in miniloc island, my parents and sister departed for manila while jao and i opted to stay for a few more days. we felt right at home in el nido town.

our first task was to find a place to stay and look at what we've found! a beachfront bungalow for 900 pesos! look how happy jao was (chizlyk cottage)

here's another shot taken from the beach. that's our house in the middle near the big tree. at dusk, we got a bit of a high tide and the water almost touched our gate. very nice. and peaceful. loved it how we can hear the waves from our beds :)

we were just walking and trying to look for a diveshop when we found these ladies selling their day's catch (tanigue?)

sleepy town of el nido

and since we spent all our money in miniloc, this is what we've been eating here - banana cue!

and isaw too! sarap! (grilled pig/chicken intestines)

and balut of course!

we went diving the next day, thats jao with a big school of yellow snappers

and more yellow snappers...

sumisu island. we had our lunch/safety stop on this gorgeous island after dive #1

jao took this picture while i was trying to pee on my legs. yup you heard that right. my right leg was stung by lots of jellyfish during our first dive. it had these big ugly red swells when we surfaced so i tried this first aid trick. now i know urine does not help jellyfish stings at all. :(

we couldnt get the the beachfront house(chizlyk cottage) for our second day since it was already reserved so they helped us look for another beachfront house. this was our view from our new house(marina garden beach resort). nice! we even got our own hammock :) and we got it for only 700 pesos!

kids hanging out in a sari-sari store

walking around the town's market, looking for pasalubong

view from our hammock

where to stay:
chizlyk cottage - best beachfront cottages in el nido town according to us. P900 a night. call anna bacsa at 09198799333. she only has 3 rooms so book early.
marina garden beach resort - nice cottages also. plus i love their hammocks. and cheap too. P700 a night

tricycle from town to LIO airport - P150
everywhere else is walking distance

el nido marine club - 2200 for 2 fun dives
palawan divers - 2300 for 2 fun dives + a brief stop at small lagoon

where to eat:
el nido boutique and art cafe - jao loved their ginger something cake. i liked their fresh orange juice. we bought our souvenir shirts from here also.

pura vida - they got a very nice view of the limestone cliffs and surrounding waters. jao didnt like their banana shake though. i only had a few bottles of san mig light. beer's cold so im happy :)

squidos - their breaded squid was good. and jao liked their pizza. plus you can watch football matches here.

cafe taiyo - garlic shrimp was delicious. and jao's pancit bihon was yummy too.

more el nido town photos here

Sunday, February 03, 2008

El Nido Paradiso

it was our last night on the island. we were having a quiet dinner in an open patio facing the beach, a guitarist was playing some old song near our table when my dad blurted out "this is extravagant!". twice he said it hehe. you can see it in his eyes that he's having a wonderful time (maybe he just can't think of another adjective). anyway, my sister and i giggled when we saw him like that. and then my mom and jao followed suit. yup, it was one of those moments i love to look back again and again.

we stayed at the el nido resorts in miniloc island. how to describe it? it was breathtakingly beautiful! nipa huts on stilts with the limestone cliffs as the backdrop. i had to stop myself taking pictures of it everytime i see it :)

and here's a closer shot of the water cottages (told you i got addicted taking pictures of those houses)

this is when we arrived on the island - the crew was singing the "palawan song" to welcome us. the service was excellent, everything you need just ask and they'll give you in a snap. jao and i wanted to rebook our plane tickets because we were planning to extend for a few days for diving? done! i need some medicine because i get seasick? no problem! a bit of water splashes us while on the speedboat? you dont need to ask for it because towels will be handed to you everytime. we were spoiled i tell you. :)

the resort offers a lot of free activities, you just choose which one you feel like doing for the day. for our first day, we've decided to do the small and big lagoon tour. here's a picture of my parents on a kayak. my dad looks like he's having fun but my mom looks like she's panicking hehe.

and here's bonch, jao and me on our kayaks. we went inside some small caves and we even saw baby black tip sharks swimming on the small lagoon.

we loved the small lagoon. it was so peaceful and intimate.

the big lagoon was not as interesting as the small lagoon. there's a small stage though in the middle of the lagoon, our guide said we can arrange to have a romantic dinner here if we like. hmm...

we also tried the sunset cruise. a very lovely sunset, too bad the clouds hid the sun before it could pass between the two big rocks.

we had a lot of activities lined up on our second day. we went inside this cave first thing. thats my dad trying to go inside the small hole. jao pointed out here how spoiled we were - see the towel laid out so the rock will not scrape us?

and this is what the cave looks like. forgot the name of the cave already but it was huge and inside we saw small bats and some birds with their nests perched on the cave's crevices.

next stop was vigan island, very popular for its snake-like sandbar.

jao on the sandbar

we had our picnic lunch at the lovely entalula island. jao and i had a go at the intro to rock climbing. jao was like a monkey - no effort at all! while i haha - let's just say i struggled a bit. our instructor was a nutter, we had loads of fun here.

just a few minutes away was the pangulasian island. we tried hobie cat sailing here. the instructor taught us important notes like when the hobie needs to change direction, you have to move on the other side of the boat and if the wind is too strong you have to lean out of the boat. here's my parents on the boat and they did all those changing seats and leaning back. im so proud! :)

back on the resort, jao and i snorkeled on the miniloc house reef. lots of colorful fish down there and even saw some big jacks. i didnt know how to properly operate then my underwater camera(first time!) so all i got were a few lousy photos. (jao with a school of sergeant majors)

for our last day, we had breakfast at the lagen island resort. it was a bigger and a modern version of the miniloc island. this is their swimming pool with a view of the cliffs and the turquoise blue waters.

between the lagen and miniloc resorts, lagen is a bit more expensive but i prefer the rustic charms of miniloc. for me, it has more heart. but thats just me.

so thats 2 days and 3 nights in el nido. one of the best trips i've had in a while - full of adventure but still lots of time to just sit back and share the stunning sights with my loved ones.

how to get there:
from manila, Island Transvoyager Inc (ITI) operates 3x a day to el nido. roundtrip fare is p13500.

daily flight schedule:
manila to el nido 7:30am, 11:30am, 3pm
el nido to manila 9:30am, 1pm, 5pm

where we stayed:
el nido resorts miniloc

overnight accomodation with 3 international buffet meals(did i mention that the food was the best??) and a lot of free exciting activities - p11500 for the cheapest cottage. jao had a friend who owns a travel agency though so we got our package a bit cheaper. try their website or email butch at butch.juria(at)discoverph(dot)com

more photos on my smugmug

Hello 2017

Hello blog, it has been 4 1/2 years since my last post! I thought I'd just give you an update with what's happened since then: I...