Tag Archives: travel

On The Road: Mt. Pulag and the Common Misconceptions

16278_10151528943923453_1352474077_nTo seek the summit of the Philippine’s third highest mountain seems to be a paralyzing thought. You start to think of scorching heat, aching legs, pounding heart, and beastly sweats running all over your body.

I, too, cannot fathom the idea of me conquering Mt. Pulag… until i mustered all the guts to finally see it for myself. Believe me when I say that i am the most “lampa” (chubby, remember?)  and I hate walking. So if I say I did it (and I did it twice), then anyone can do it, too!

When I completed the trek, I finally crushed some myths when it comes to Mt. Pulag and I want to share it with you.

The Common Misconceptions:

  • That  Mt. Pulag is one of the longest trails (it’s the third highest, right?)

It is the third highest, yes, but the beauty of Mt. Pulag is that monster jeep gets through the farthest way possible saving you some kilometers to hike. Thanks to the continuous improvement of the road infrastructure, the ride is quite bearable now compared to years back.10317617_10203102446496098_7109485075088290181_o

  • That Mt. Pulag is for the seasoned hikers

Mt. Pulag was the second mountain I hiked following a minor climb at Mt. Pico de Loro. While i do not undermine the preparations needed (I walked for 30 minutes everyday for two weeks), it is something that beginners can do. It is relatively safe trail and no death defying trails. No river crossing, too!10390252_10152427601129462_878818161850258330_n

Do note that I am talking of the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail – the easiest of all trails.

Disclaimer: Backpack is just for photo ops. Porters are available to bring your bags should you be allowed to camp up there. 

  • That Mt. Pulag is a dreadful assault all throughout

What I love most about Mt. Pulag is that is has a gradual trail that literally, it’s like walking in the park. The last 30 minutes is the hardest as this is the assault, but hey, you can always take a rest!12670852_10153820779664462_5950419217652003283_n

  • That Mt. Pulag ALWAYS shows up her majestic sea of clouds and astounding sunrise

No. This might be the primary reason why we hike to Mt. Pulag but let it be known that it is not a guarantee that you will see the imperial sea of clouds hovering over the powerhouse Cordillera ranges. But that is nature, unpredictable as she can be.

Here kicks in the essence of traveling and that cliche saying “It’s the journey, not the destination” comes into play. You have to enjoy it, after all, you reached the freakin’ third highest peak of the Philippines!10268485_10203102441655977_7989254147193839831_nMay 2014
12715583_10153818273604462_7544222173505628282_nFeb 2016

Mt. Pulag is a charming and mystic place. Let us just be mindful of our responsibilities when we visit her!

-Dahl-

On the Road: Port Barton and Her Underrated Beauty

image-755dd0c3f0861e3864a367d96f1f02cb7b2baafbca6b3e36cf3dbc37051d480b-VI’m kind of half hearted to share this amazing discovery of Port Barton because I want it to stay as how it is today and would not be taken over by commercialism. Nevertheless, I am spilling the beans in the interest of Philippine tourism and satiate everyone’s wanderlust souls. Responsible travelers, that’s one of the core values for everyone who’s hitting the road.

About halfway from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, there is a quite town of Port Barton. It is a quaint town but home to true blooded foreign travelers. It is an understated destination probably because it is overshadowed by the more popular El Nido town. The road leading to Port Barton isn’t fully cemented (yet) which makes it an off the beaten track destination.

Port Barton captivated our hearts the moment we stepped out of our van. The organic feel of the community, the warm welcome of the locals, and the alluring shoreline are just some of the obvious reasons why we promptly loved the island. It’s a sanctuary for travelers who traverse the globe to immerse themselves with the community. Heck, there’s even a book exchange in one of the cafes!image-2e50ce86cf40ec0891b3091995d4be9cd6b2a7d34a5a5c9501a66844793f66f4-V

Think of a slow morning grind, taking an early walk by the village, and finally taking your hearty breakfast by the shore. Ah, such is a simple yet very ‘wowfulfilling travel life. No wonder why foreigners flocked into this charming island!

The nearby islands are worth every “wow” and “grabe” that you utter, It’s your kind of steady beach bumming with all the beautiful sights handed over to your very eyes. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Attractions:

  • Luli (Lulubog Lilitaw) Islandimage-feca8dc2c18468c7828dc682137f0698b73f54140d1d505f4a8eb8ce707698fe-V
  • Paradise Islandimage-167e7144bfa8f57cd3ca6ce24b1f8c889c6a029f26350ac7a5d2ad21afd7c60b-V
  • German IslandFB_IMG_1459470957736
  • Exotic Islandimage-7069c2949b643ede077c6fa453300a9f54ac803621513a762d1043d5ce62b76f-V
  • Aquarium (for snorkel)image-abd7a2730b77b35ea79d7a6e58df8264913e2f4fbc178ebbbe1671710bda7c83-V                                                          Captured from the surface of the water!

image-e2ba903baad3beeb7fa50a231e018292117a14bb01636d1b6048581e935956c7-V

Yes, this stellar experience is tucked in my memory book for life!

Here are the things to consider when planning your trip to Port Barton:

Considerations:

  1. Unlike with El Nido, I reckon a beachfront accommodation is a good option. As I mentioned, the shoreline is spectacular and there is not much crowd wandering along the beach. Among the resorts, I’ve seen Summer Homes and Ausan which exhibits a good impression. Please do note that I have not stayed here (screw late inquiries and bookings!) so I do not vouch for them.
  2. However, there are other inns as well in the community which is equally charming and one of which is owned by Nanay Nelly. it’s a detached cabin exuding a provincial feel! This is where we stayed for Php 1,500 a night – comfortably fits 4 but balcony can be used to sleep in another 2 pax. This is highly recommended!
  3. Bring a book! There is no greater feeling of spending an afternoon by the shore with a book in your one hand, and a beer on the other!
  4. Sunset watching is a must. Oh, I had one of the best sunset memories in Port Barton!
  5. Island camp is possible in Port Barton. We stayed in German island but please note that there iis no fresh water source here. If you aren’t comfortable, it is best to stay at the mainland.
  6. NOT RECOMMENDED: Going to El Nido via motorized bangka. This is not a popular route but given how adventurous our group is, we dived into this idea. Not only it is more expensive but it will take you 6 solid hours to reach El Nido. Land trip will only take about 2-3 hours.image-bffecb07a0f4768addf7a8727f87b23e51858394e7d6a088baec68c40e7afcc8-V

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 1:

  1. Arrival at Puerto Princesa, head straight to Port Barton at the terminal
  2. Spend the rest of the day by the beach front with you mat, book, and beer. Talk to the locals while waiting for the sunset.

Day 2:

  1. Go for an entire day of island hopping. You may have your tours arranged in your hotel or book it separately. We had ours with Kuya Jojo. Spend more time at German island. The hammocks are to die for (but please be cautious of small insects that may lurk your entire body!).

Day 3:

  1. Make your way to Long Beach in San Vicente, the longest white sand shoreline in Asia.
  2. Travel back to Puerto Princesa or head straight to El Nido

So, are you packing your bags, yet? :) Let us know how your Port Barton vacation goes!

P.S. Credit to Levy Bajamundi (@tapsiturbi) for the photos. 

-Dahl-

On the Road: El Nido And Why You Should Go

El NIdo is every Filipino’s bragging rights and there is definitely a compelling reason why in recent years, it always tops the list of the world’s number one island. Why is it so, you ask?

While any wonderful island can claim white sands, turquoise waters, and sunny tropical weather, El Nido gives you more reasons than that and let me tell you:

  1. The majestic limestone formations make it like a “walled” island, rendering it to be astounding and unique.DSC08323The mighty “walls” surrounding the Big Lagoon
  2. The islands are not the typical ones, you need to “work” for it to get a glimpse of their beauty. One must paddle up to see both small and big lagoons, you need to peak into a small hole that’s only suitable for one person to be engulfed in the beauty of secret lagoon and secret beach, and you have to swim in deep waters to land in hidden beach and Cadlao lagoon.Kayaking through Small LagoonKayaking though the Small Lagoon
  3. While flocked by tourists, El Nido offers raw and spontaneous feel of an island lifeDSC08250One of the many raw sights in El Nido
  4. Just as you thought the last island that you visited was the best, the next one will leave you, once again, in chief wonderment! Each island has its own character that you can clearly place them side by side in your memory lane.DSC08492

A common notion with El Nido is that it is an expensive getaway probably because it has been popularized by El Nido Resorts, a chain of luxury resorts owned by the Ayalas. However, while it is indeed relatively expensive than other Philippine destination, it is not one that will put a hole on your pockets. To give you a perspective, we spent about Php 9000, exclusive of plane ride, and inclusive of our 3 day stay at Port Barton (more of this another captivating destination on my next post).

Hitting El Nido is a must, and here are some of the tips that I can share based on our experience:

  • Ride the van at the terminal, not at the airport as fare is generally cheaper there

You can do this by hiring a tricycle (usually costs Php 120 good for 3-4 persons) and head to the terminal.

  • Always ask for Filipino rate

We did not know of this until we rode a van going to El Nido. Our driver from Recaro bus voluntarily said we are getting a hundred bucks off our trip. We also got a discount with our accommodation. Note though that not all establishments may have this but it pays to ask. Also, please be discreet especially when there are foreigners nearby so as to avoid an awkward situation among you, the vendor, and the foreigner.

  • Beach front is not a necessity in El Nido town proper

It may be a perfect idea of waking up to a beach front view but we feel that this is unnecessary in El Nido. For one, the beach front is not as astounding as the islands, there are trashes in the shores, and it is just relatively busy that it takes away the calmness that you are looking for in a beach front.

  • Corong corong town is a better option for accommodation

Corong corong is a stone throw’s away from town proper and it is way more peaceful. Accommodations are relatively cheaper here. Arguably, the beach front is also better here than in the town proper. If you you’ll die without a beachfront view, then this is a good alternative to search for an inn or resort that’s facing the beach.

  • Go for a night of beach camping!

Want an unobstructed view of the mighty limestones, crystal clear waters, and purest sands in the morning but do not have the means to stay in Miniloc or Lagen? Then beach camp is the answer! In Papaya island, there is a fresh water source that makes your stay “bearable”. Also, you can ask your tour guide to lend you with cooking and eating utensils. Just brign your own tents, though. There is a tour as well but it will cost you much higher than doing it DIY.

DSC08441Where we spent our night by the beach

  • Tours A and C are the best options when you have limited time

The bests of El Nido are on this tour. You got to kayak to see small and big lagoons, make your way through a small hole to get to secret lagoon and beach, and you have to swim to reach hidden beach and cadlao lagoon! On the other side, if you want a more chill vibe, then you may opt for tour B as it is more of a beach bumming (as what you usually do in other island hopping.

It can be overwhelming to arrange your tours but let me give you an idea and some suggestions on how to plan for it.

  1. Have at least a 4 days, 3 nights trip in which the first and last day is dedicated to travel time. El Nido is 5 hours away from Puerto Princesa so you need to take it into account. If you have spare time, make it 3 full days of tours with Tour A first, followed by Tour C, then finally Tour B. Tour B as mentioned is more of chill in the islands with not much physical activities so make it as your last stop.
  2. For transportation, we rode via Recaro Transport It is generally okay and as expected in a sharing set up, the van is packed with tourists. If you want to splurge in a private van, it can cost you around Php 5,000.
  3. I recommend Novies Tourist Inn in Corong Corong for accomodation – Php 3,500 for 6 pax with a spacious room and private toilet. It has verandas too! Again, they can give it for Php 2,500 depending on the season so don’t forget to ask! However, if you really insist on getting an accommodatin in El Nido town proper, you may want to check out Rico’s Inn, Rossana’s Pension, or El Nido Garden Resort. By far, they have the best looking resorts that we’ve seen while walking through the stretch of El Nido beachfront.
  4. For the tours, we got Lagoon Tours which relatively offers the lowest rate (Php 1,000 per day). However, do not fret too much on looking for the cheapest ones as all the tours are regularized, hence, it does not come in too far fetch in terms of pricing.
  5. If you plan to spend a night camping by the beach, I strongly recommend Papaya island. Hands down to the view, the water, and the sand!

So there you go! i hope I tickled your fancies and gets you packing your bags to hit this paradise! Happy Travel!

DSC08400DSC08504P.S. For more photos and stories of our El Nido travel, please follow my personal account in IG @dahlgrenjoy and search for hashtag #cozyexplorersxelnido.

*All photos are owned by Levy Bajamundi (@tapsiturbi).

-Dahl-