Post(s) tagged with "stories"

Ocean Park Express

bagtag:

26 - 29 November 2010

Hong Kong / Macau Part 3: Yay, Ocean Park!


Ocean Park is about 30 minutes or less from Central in Hong Kong Island. Don’t be fooled by the not so majestic entrance, this place is actually huge!

It’s situated on two sides of a mountain and the two parts of the park (The Waterfront and The Summit) are accessible either via train or cable car. Being the excited people that we are, we tried the latter first. 

  

IT WAS SPECTACULAR! We were noisy and excited and acted like little children on Christmas day. The ride was a good 10 minutes or so and the views were amazing! That cable car ride was probably the first for most of us so you can just imagine the chaos it ensued.

 

Upon arriving at The Summit, three of us immediately wanted to try the extreme rides and went there first. There were a lot of people with us on that day (two huge groups were having their outing) so we wanted to avoid the lines. Luckily, there weren’t any lines yet on the rides we wanted to try. 

We went on The Abyss first which was crazy! It’s a ride that lifts you up to about 20 stories high, then pauses (so your fear and anticipation heightens), and drops you in a vertical free fall for an exhilarating 3 or so seconds. Then repeats the process 3 more times. That first drop was nerve-wracking! You start to feel scared and excited as you go up then as it pauses, you’ll go crazy in anticipation of the drop. IT WAS AMAZING! Definitely a must try. 

Next was the roller coaster, The Dragon, which wasn’t as extreme as it looked like (Space Shuttle in Enchanted Kingdom provided more thrills). Then Crazy Galleon which was more fun than we expected since we were kept entertained by the people on the opposite side of the ship. They were such a delight to watch. They were screaming the whole time but to us it seemed like it was just one long scream.

 

By the time we went to the aquarium (Atoll Reef), the lines were starting to build up and a lot of people were inside the aquarium already. It was still quite enjoyable though as the marine creatures featured were so wonderful. Though we were a bit concerned with overcrowding in some of the exhibits. 

 

One thing about amusement parks is that they totally overcharge you for food and water. The guy we asked at the entrance said that water was actually allowed inside the park but a sign at the other entrance told us otherwise. We suspect the crowds were just really too big in number that day so they didn’t bother with checking each bag for water bottles. 

Just be prepared to shell out extra money for a decent lunch inside the park. Water costs a fortune as well (HKD 16.00 or almost PHP 100 for a 750 mL bottle). You’ll likely spend about PHP 300.00 per meal. There’s a McDonald’s inside the park, several food stalls, and casual restuarants. We suggest sneaking in light snacks such as Sky Flakes so you have something to munch on in between.

 

After lunch we decided to move on to the other part of the park via the Ocean Express to catch the exhibit opening for the Giant Panda Habitat and the Panda Village. We were a bit disappointed since the Pandas were sleeping when we got to the habitat (we even thought they were dead) and so we didn’t quite get to see them in action. Even then, seeing these creatures was still quite majestic.

We had better luck at Panda Village as they were semi-awake and we got to see one of the Pandas turn on its side a bit. We also got to see a fox/raccoon like creature called a Red Panda which was adorable as well. There were also sea otters here and it was amazing watching them swim skillfully in search of the food pellet their handler throws into the water. 

Near Panda Village is an exhibit called Goldfish Treasures which boasts a collection of different types of goldfish (before that moment, we only knew of one) with bulging eyes and strange heads. 

  

We also went to Sea Jelly Spectacular which had aquariums utilizing different lighting and the ethereal beauty of jelly fishes. 

A ride worth the 15 minute wait in line was the Ocean Park Tower which gives you a stunning 360 degree view of the Park and the surrounding areas. The ride takes you 72 meters high and the view deck rotates slowly giving you a wonderful view of the sea, the park, and Aberdeen. You should definitely bring your camera along for this one.

See it for yourself or watch this video for a sneak peak.

There was really much much more to explore in Ocean Park (plus several new attractions were being built when we were there). I doubt we even saw half of them. We were quite tired from just walking around the park and navigating the throng of people in every direction so we didn’t get to see the rest of the park. Aside from that, we still had a visit to the Peak scheduled for that night. Time wasn’t on our side either as it was close to 5:30 pm before we headed out to the bus stop for the bus back to central (the park actually closes at 6 pm).

We were, however, greeted with a big orange sunset as we reached the bus stop which momentarily took our tiredness away.

We rode the bus back to Central and got off at MTR Admiralty station entrance to take another bus (bus 12S) to the Peak Tram Station which would take us to The Peak. 

And that concludes our day at Ocean Park Hong Kong!

______________________

Ocean Park Hong Kong Website

Some tips and reminders:

  • PAL and Cebu Pacific both have regular flights to Hong Kong from Manila. For this trip, we flew Cebu Pacific on promo fares of about PHP 5100.00 round trip (for our friend, it was around PHP 2500.00). Check their sites regularly for seat sale announcements. Like them on facebook as well (Cebu Pac should be paying us for this…).
  • International flights from NAIA are charged an airport tax (PHP 1620.00) and a terminal fee (PHP 750.00) so prepare some cash. Return flights from HKIA do not have extra charges.
  • For the photographers, tripods are usually asked to be checked in. 
  • You have the option to buy a local sim card in Hong Kong but if you’re only staying for a few days, we suggest turning on international roaming. If you’re only planning to contact your parents, for example, and inform them you’ve arrived safely and that you’re at the hotel each night then that’s just one SMS per day (~ PHP 20.00 per text). If you’d like to save up, there’s usually internet access available at the hotel and you can just email them! 
  • Bus transfers from HKIA to the city are listed here.
  • Exchange rates at the Airport are usually bad so if you’re staying at the Tsim Sha Tsui area, there’s a forex located at the entrance to Star House near the Star Ferry Pier. There’s also a Western Union Forex located along Haiphong Road cor. Hankow road. Haiphong road is near the entrance to the MTR (Tsim Sha Tsui Exit A1)
  • Every trip to HK should start with the purchase of their smart card payment system, the Octopus Card. You can use it to pay for almost all transportation in HK (buses included), vending machines, 7-eleven and grocery transactions, and they even use it to record attendance in schools! This eliminates the hassle of counting foreign coins when paying for buses and small things. We suggest buying the standard (or adult) type for HKD 150.00 (100 HKD consumable, 50 HKD deposit). You can get back any stored value left minus about HKD 8.00 for handling fee when you return the card after less than 3 months from date of issue. Official site here.
  • The place we stayed in, Yiufai Guesthouse, got mostly good reviews at Trip Advisor.com and was within our budget range of about less than PHP 1000.00 per night.
  • Refill your water bottle from the hotel as much as possible because in Ocean Park (and I suspect, Disneyland) a 750 mL bottle costs HKD 16.00 (almost a PHP 100.00)!!
6

Good Morning, Hong Kong!

bagtag:

26 - 29 November 2010.

Hong Kong/Macau Part 2: Hello Avenue of Stars!


We greeted the streets of Hong Kong a very early good morning to get a good head’s start on our first official day. Breakfast was at (where else?) McDonald’s to get our fix of pancakes and sausage mcmuffins.

 

Prices were more or less comparable and the taste was pretty much the same. Though we dare you to try the macaroni soup with sausage and egg on top. It’s a sausage mcmuffin with egg except there’s macaroni soup instead of a muffin. Strange indeed.

 

After getting some money changed at the nearby Star Mall (where rates are better than Western Union; see tips section) we proceeded to walk towards Avenue of Stars. We didn’t really know exactly how to get there so we just walked in the general direction of the sea. Turns out, we needed to cross Salisbury Road (a main road) which would mean either taking the subway or crossing the street near the Star Ferry (Tsim Sha Tsui) Pier.

 

Hong Kong is a very tourist friendly place so don’t worry about getting too lost. There are plenty of signs in English to point you to the right direction. After a few turns and backtracks, we got to Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s counterpart to Hollywood’s own except with famous Chinese personalities immortalized on the stars. 

 

Perhaps the most famous landmark here is the statue of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s star. There’s also a cute souvenir shop in the area filled with Jackie Chan memorabilia which was unfortunately (fortunately for our wallets) still closed at that time. 

 

The area provides a great view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island on the other side. We could even see the Peak from there which was our destination later that night.

After getting our dose of fresh (and very cold) Hong Kong sea air, we retraced our steps and headed back to the pier to take the Star Ferry to Central. The ride costs HKD 2.40 on weekends and holidays (HKD 2.00 otherwise).

It’s a short 15 minute ride on this cool “ambidextrous” ferry (it doesn’t need to turn around and the seats go both ways!) with great views of Tsim Sha Tsui, Victoria Harbour, and Central. 

The ride is a different experience at night as both sides of the Harbour light up for the Symphony of Lights show every 8pm (best viewed at Avenue of Stars or Golden Bauhinia Square so you can hear the musical accompaniment).

We arrived at Central and started looking for the bus stop for BUS 6A that would take us to Ocean Park. We must’ve looked lost since a Filipino approached us and asked, “Ano yon, Ate?” 

From Central, the bus stops are to your right. The bus we rode was actually a different one than what we researched about. We just saw the sign “to Ocean Park” and rode that. Turns out, it’s about 10 cents cheaper than the one we were waiting for. It’s a smaller bus, more of a coaster really. 

The ride’s about 20 minutes and the route is pretty scenic. You’ll pass by the vast and surreal looking Catholic cemetery which is really a sight to behold. Then it’s Ocean Park!

The bus takes you directly to the entrance so you don’t have to worry about directions. Our Ocean Park adventure is up next!

_________________________________________________________

Some tips and reminders:

  • PAL and Cebu Pacific both have regular flights to Hong Kong from Manila. For this trip, we flew Cebu Pacific on promo fares of about PHP 5100.00 round trip (for our friend, it was around PHP 2500.00). Check their sites regularly for seat sale announcements. Like them on facebook as well (Cebu Pac should be paying us for this…).
  • International flights from NAIA are charged an airport tax (PHP 1620.00) and a terminal fee (PHP 750.00) so prepare some cash. Return flights from HKIA do not have extra charges.
  • For the photographers, tripods are usually asked to be checked in. 
  • You have the option to buy a local sim card in Hong Kong but if you’re only staying for a few days, we suggest turning on international roaming. If you’re only planning to contact your parents, for example, and inform them you’ve arrived safely and that you’re at the hotel each night then that’s just one SMS per day (~ PHP 20.00 per text). If you’d like to save up, there’s usually internet access available at the hotel and you can just email them! 
  • Bus transfers from HKIA to the city are listed here.
  • Exchange rates at the Airport are usually bad so if you’re staying at the Tsim Sha Tsui area, there’s a forex located at the entrance to Star House near the Star Ferry Pier. There’s also a Western Union Forex located along Haiphong Road cor. Hankow road. Haiphong road is near the entrance to the MTR (Tsim Sha Tsui Exit A1)
  • Every trip to HK should start with the purchase of their smart card payment system, the Octopus Card. You can use it to pay for almost all transportation in HK (buses included), vending machines, 7-eleven and grocery transactions, and they even use it to record attendance in schools! This eliminates the hassle of counting foreign coins when paying for buses and small things. We suggest buying the standard (or adult) type for HKD 150.00 (100 HKD consumable, 50 HKD deposit). You can get back any stored value left minus about HKD 8.00 for handling fee when you return the card after less than 3 months from date of issue. Official site here.
  • The place we stayed in, Yiufai Guesthouse, got mostly good reviews at Trip Advisor.com and was within our budget range of about less than PHP 1000.00 per night.
  • Refill your water bottle from the hotel as much as possible because in Ocean Park (and I suspect, Disneyland) a 750 mL bottle costs HKD 16.00 (almost a PHP 100.00)!!
11

Good Morning Manila, Good Night Hong Kong!

bagtag:

26 - 29 November 2010

Hong Kong/Macau Part 1: Arrival, bus stops, Yiufai guesthouse, and street food galore

This trip to Hong Kong with our friends was about 4 months in the making. In the height of seat sale euphoria, I (Lara) haphazardly booked Angel one Saturday morning a trip to Hong Kong. A few hours after, while looking for people to join in the mess (armed and ready with the art of persuasion), we booked our friends Tess and Celine. Geleen, the late bloomer and lucky one, booked her flight late August (and paid only half the cost of our tickets!).

After months of painful waiting, careful planning (with a google spreadsheet to boot!), and random emails to each other of ” ___ months/weeks/days to go, I’m so excited!” the day finally arrived.

Our attention span was reduced to nothing the day of our flight. All of us still went to work in the morning and I doubt if any of us were actually productive… 

With just a few mishaps in the airport (Angel, this means you!) and slight delays, we were off to Hong Kong!

After a generally peaceful flight we arrived at Hong Kong International Airport (locally known as Chek Lap Kok Airport) at about 9:30PM. After getting a bit of money changed (exchange rates at the airport are usually lower when you’re buying) and getting the most magnificently convenient thing ever - The Octopus Card, we spent a bit of time deciding whether to take the bus or the Airport Express to the city. More on where to get money changed and the Octopus card on the tips section.

Now, the Airport Express (MTR) is a bit more convenient since it’s faster (none of us have tried it before though) but looking back, I think the bus (we took Bus A21 to Tsim Sha Tsui) was a better choice. For one thing it’s cheaper (just 33 HKD, Airport Express is around 90 HKD with additional fares for night trips), you can also sight see (as opposed to riding the MTR which is mostly underground), there’s a designated place for your luggage, you get to sit down (and even sleep) on comfy chairs, and there’s a second floor on the bus (this really made the decision for me - Lara) which gives a unique perspective to the city sights.

For luggage compartments and chairs though, we can’t say for sure how it compares to the Airport Express but once you interchange trains to the regular routes to the city you’ll be on a regular subway train which doesn’t have terribly comfortable chairs or designated luggage racks. 

Now, our directions to where we were supposed to stay via the bus was “get off at nth stop” so we had to diligently count the bus stops. As it became a bit confusing deciding whether it was an actual stop or just the traffic light, it was a good thing that I (Lara) had stayed in the area before (at Canton Road, parallel to Nathan Road where we stayed) so I knew the general area where we should get off. 

Nevertheless, as automatic bus stopping buttons do not exist in the Philippines and shouting “Manong, para!” would not get us anywhere, we missed our stop by a block. Fortunately, it was just a short walk back to get to the building and we were much too excited to be bothered. Too excited, as we actually walked past the entrance to our guesthouse twice!

We stayed at Yiufai Guesthouse located at 66 -70 Golden Crown Court, Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Island Hong Kong! If all you’re after is a bed, a decent bathroom, and a roof on top of your head then this place is perfect! It’s quaint, clean, simple, and conveniently located. The owner (Mr. Raymond Tran) is also very nice and accommodating.

The reception is at the 6th floor of the building where you can get free Watson’s distilled water (fill up your bottles before heading out because bottled water in Hong Kong is about PHP 42.00 for 750 mL!). This is also where you can leave your bags after check out (at 12 NN) if you decide to still go out and explore before leaving for the airport. Our rooms were at the 10th floor. We were given a key to the main door and our rooms so we could pretty much go about as we please. 

Picture by Tess.

The streets of Hong Kong are usually still up and about until late at night so there’s plenty to do (and eat) before you turn in for the night. So we went out with our hungry stomachs taking the lead landing us to this place:

Street food galore at 12 AM. Their prices are of course steeper than our street food here in the Philippines but you have a wide range of choices and everything looks delightful from the fish balls, sausages, squid, crab cakes, shrimp cakes, gyoza, and many many more.

With our stomachs full and our excitement up for the day ahead, we turned in to get a good night’s rest for our Ocean Park and the Peak adventure the next day.

_________________________________________________________

Some tips and reminders:

  • PAL and Cebu Pacific both have regular flights to Hong Kong from Manila. For this trip, we flew Cebu Pacific on promo fares of about PHP 5100.00 round trip (for our friend, it was around PHP 2500.00). Check their sites regularly for seat sale announcements. Like them on facebook as well (Cebu Pac should be paying us for this…).
  • International flights from NAIA are charged an airport tax (PHP 1620.00) and a terminal fee (PHP 750.00) so prepare some cash. Return flights from HKIA do not have extra charges.
  • For the photographers, tripods are usually asked to be checked in. 
  • You have the option to buy a local sim card in Hong Kong but if you’re only staying for a few days, we suggest turning on international roaming. If you’re only planning to contact your parents, for example, and inform them you’ve arrived safely and that you’re at the hotel each night then that’s just one SMS per day (~ PHP 20.00 per text). If you’d like to save up, there’s usually internet access available at the hotel and you can just email them! 
  • Bus transfers from HKIA to the city are listed here.
  • Exchange rates at the Airport are usually bad so if you’re staying at the Tsim Sha Tsui area, there’s a forex located at the entrance to Star House near the Star Ferry Pier. There’s also a Western Union Forex located along Haiphong Road cor. Hankow road. Haiphong road is near the entrance to the MTR (Tsim Sha Tsui Exit A1)
  • Every trip to HK should start with the purchase of their smart card payment system, the Octopus Card. You can use it to pay for almost all transportation in HK (buses included), vending machines, 7-eleven and grocery transactions, and they even use it to record attendance in schools! This eliminates the hassle of counting foreign coins when paying for buses and small things. We suggest buying the standard (or adult) type for HKD 150.00 (100 HKD consumable, 50 HKD deposit). You can get back any stored value left minus about HKD 8.00 for handling fee when you return the card after less than 3 months from date of issue. Official site here.
  • The place we stayed in, Yiufai Guesthouse, got mostly good reviews at Trip Advisor.com and was within our budget range of about less than PHP 1000.00 per night.
  • Refill your water bottle from the hotel as much as possible because in Ocean Park (and I suspect, Disneyland) a 750 mL bottle costs HKD 16.00 (almost a PHP 100.00)!!
7

Hoist the colors!

bagtag:

I thought this would be the perfect first entry to an ambitious little travel blog. Before the world was made small by trains, airplanes, and jets, people travelled in style - GALLEONS.

There’s always something majestic about old things - cars, buildings, furniture. Like how buildings back then were built not just because they needed office space but also because they wanted to create something beautiful. 

Which is why the world is a much better place because of people with too much time and money on their hands who decide to build replicas of old things like the Galeon Andalucia.

  

The Dia del Galeon Festival was held here in the Philippines last October 5-9, 2010. It was meant to commemorate the journey of the galleons which linked the Philippines to Mexico and Spain opening up all kinds of trade between the three countries. 

Andalucia was docked at Pier 13 in South Harbor near where Manila Ocean Park is. My family (including my grandfather) and I got there at around 6 AM to a line already about 100 people long. Those people must’ve been there since 5 AM. After a horrendously long wait (try 4 hours), we finally got to see Andalucia in all its glory.

It was amazing! Everything was just wood and rope and it was exactly like the ships in period movies like Pirates of the Carribean. If I didn’t know better, I’d have started shouting at everyone to “Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen!” 

Despite the long wait it was still quite worth it because I know my lolo (grandfather) had a great time (he used to be the Captain of a huge cargo ship).

Though I do hope that next time Galeon Andalucia could stay a bit longer. Lots of people couldn’t make it because of the long lines. They could also do with better logistics and crowd handling.

5

Goodbye, CDO!

bagtag:

Cagayan De Oro, 22-24 October 2010

Part 3: Limketkai mall, hunt for Vandep pastels, and hilarious advertisements at the airport

Link to part 1 | Link to part 2

Our last day at CDO was more for relaxation and pasalubong shopping. We had wanted to go to Camiguin and Ma. Cristina Falls but our schedule wouldn’t allow it so now we have every reason to go back (yay!). We wish we had been able to try the Motorelas which are like the tuk tuks of Thailand, a sort of cross between a carretela and a tricycle but we didn’t have time (and didn’t really know where they were going… haha).

We went to Limketkai Mall which is supposedly the first shopping mall in CDO. According to Wikipedia, it’s supposedly one of the biggest commercial complexes in the country. Nothing really special there - just a regular old mall. We didn’t get to really explore it though. 

After Limketkai, we headed down to the Vandep branch near our hostel and to our horror found out that there were less Pastel boxes available than we had set out to buy (we wanted to buy a lot…)! So we went to their main branch at Bulua (took a taxi) and bought Pastel (buns with YEMA filling, yum!) to our heart’s content. Since it was their main branch, they had more products and stocks to choose from so we recommend going straight here. It’s also on the way to the airport so you can just ask the taxi to wait for you while you shop. Aside from the Pastel, the must try are the siopao and bread sticks.

Waiting at the airport after check in can be quite boring. So pray that the airport you’ll be waiting in has its share of funny advertisements. Here’s an example:

For a financial loaning center (?): “We’re the fastiest and quickiest way to get a loan!”

The rest were videos with really bad and awkward acting and they were on loop so we were quite entertained for a while. The rest was really just the plane ride home (via a brand new Airbus) and the unique experience only in the Philippines (or whenever Pinoys are around) of passengers applauding after a good plane landing. 

All in all, the CDO trip was short but definitely one for the books (or blogs). The fun part really, was travelling with a great bunch of people and the new experiences we all got to try. 


Link to part 1 | Link to part 2

____________________________________________
SOME TIPS AND WORDS OF WISDOM:

Try to wait for airfares to go on sale (which they often do) though this usually means booking way way in advance. For this trip, we were booked 5 months ahead. AirphilCebu Pacific, and PAL all have flights to CDO.

You can either rent a van or grab a taxi from the airport to the city. The van is about PHP 700.00 - 1000.00 while a taxi would cost around PHP 250.00 - 300.00. 

Try the PASTEL and the LANZONES!

For rafting and zipline adventures, avail of the complete package from KAGAY for around PHP 1850 per head for a group of about 7-8 pax to maximize your whole day. 

Check out:

Kagay Whitewater Rafting
Dahilayan Adventure Park 
Contact number for bookings (KAGAY): +639177122323

When you go for the rafting and zipline adventures: pack only the essentialslike an extra change of clothes and a towel for after the rafting. Though you do have the option to leave your things in the jeepney. There are also changing (and possibly shower) rooms at the “take out” point of the course. It’s also better if you wear strappy sandals instead of just flip flops when you engage in the zipline or rafting. It’ll be nice if you have a water proof camera but they do have a designated photographer kayaking along with the rafts (CDs of the photos go for about PHP 250.00 each). We did have an option to bring our cameras in a dry sack but we didn’t want to risk it. We also brought food and some snacks for the rafting (for that added energy boost) but ask for dry bags from the staff to store these in because a soggy burger is not a happy burger to eat. 

ENJOY!

8

CDO + Bukidnon

bagtag:

Cagayan De Oro, 22-24 October 2010

Part 2: Pineapples galore at Bukidnon, Dahilayan Adventure Park, Whitewater rafting, and LECHON.

Link to Part 1


We were able to book the whole day’s activities ahead which included transportation, Zipzone and Kagay rafting fees, as well as a hearty lunch buffet at Mindy’s, so no more worries for us. Check out the tips section below for details. First stop for the day was Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon which houses Asia’s longest dual zipline at 840 m. Getting there from the city takes about an hour and a half by van but the journey is worth it as the roads pass by the Del Monte Plantation where pineapples abound as far as the eye can see. This was seriously one of the highlights of this trip. Hectares upon hectares of pineapple fields set on a backdrop of Nat Geo worthy bluish mountains. Ah! It was a sight to behold. 

I really wish we could’ve stopped for a while to take in the scenery but unfortunately we were on a tight schedule. What was really nice at Dahilayan was the cool weather and the lush greenery. Trees. Trees. Trees. Zipzone offers three zipline rides: 150m, 320m,and 840m as well as a rope course and wall climbing. We tried all three ziplines which was amazing! The longest one was ridden superman style wherein you had to lay face down on a canvass hanging on the wires. If you watch your shadow zooming below you, it really looks as if you’re soaring through the air!

Up next was a good lunch at Mindy’s where we were advised to fill up on carbs so we’d have strength to conquer the rapids of Cagayan de Oro river. It was about another hour’s travel from the city proper to the “put in” point of the basic whitewater rafting course. We were six to a raft including the guides. When you get there they strap you up with life vests and a safety helmet, arm you with a paddle and throw you into the river! Kidding. 

There’s of course a short discussion on some safety reminders and guidelines and a gradual introduction to the water. The whitewater rafting experience was really made more entertaining because of our amazingly talkative and interactive guides. They had jokes handy during the lull time in between rapids and had names and stories for each one. 

Whitewater rafting was seriously fun. The basic course runs through about 14 rapids and takes about three hours. Maneuvering through the rapids wasn’t all that hard, really. Maybe the advance and extreme courses would provide more challenge. 

It was nice because we got the chance to float around the cold river during the parts where the water was calm. You even have the option to just float through one of the milder rapids! The scenery was also breathtaking. The cliffs covered with lush greenery that peek out once you round the river’s bend were just amazing to look at. Rafting is definitely a must when you’re in CDO. We even saw a lola (grandmother) cruising along at the raft ahead of us!

After an extreme day, we dragged our exhausted selves back to the hostel and prepared for our friend’s party. One thing every traveler has to try is to go to a friend’s province during a celebration or a fiesta. There will surely be lechon. 

And if you’re in Cebu or CDO, the lechon is TO DIE FOR. I (Lara) am not a big fan of lechon but the lechon our hosts served was so deliciously sinful I didn’t want to stop eating. Another great thing about going to your friend’s hometown is that you get your own personal tourguide and you have a chance to immerse in their culture. Our friend’s parents had a lot of stories to share about their experiences living in Mindanao and some insights about Muslim culture. Every travel experience should come with a few insights and new knowledge so that was a plus plus.

Link to Part 1

*Rafting pics were taken by official photographers of Kagay.

____________________________________________
SOME TIPS AND WORDS OF WISDOM:

Try to wait for airfares to go on sale (which they often do) though this usually means booking way way in advance. For this trip, we were booked 5 months ahead. AirphilCebu Pacific, and PAL all have flights to CDO.

You can either rent a van or grab a taxi from the airport to the city. The van is about PHP 700.00 - 1000.00 while a taxi would cost around PHP 250.00 - 300.00. 

Try the PASTEL and the LANZONES!

For rafting and zipline adventures, avail of the complete package from KAGAY for around PHP 1850 per head for a group of about 7-8 pax to maximize your whole day. 

Check out:

Kagay Whitewater Rafting
Dahilayan Adventure Park 
Contact number for bookings (KAGAY): +639177122323

When you go for the rafting and zipline adventures: pack only the essentialslike an extra change of clothes and a towel for after the rafting. Though you do have the option to leave your things in the jeepney. There are also changing (and possibly shower) rooms at the “take out” point of the course. It’s also better if you wear strappy sandals instead of just flip flops when you engage in the zipline or rafting. It’ll be nice if you have a water proof camera but they do have a designated photographer kayaking along with the rafts (CDs of the photos go for about PHP 250.00 each). We did have an option to bring our cameras in a dry sack but we didn’t want to risk it. We also brought food and some snacks for the rafting (for that added energy boost) but ask for dry bags from the staff to store these in because a soggy burger is not a happy burger to eat. 

ENJOY!

10

Cagayan De Oro: just a glimpse, I’m sure we’ll go back

bagtag:

Cagayan De Oro, 22-24 October 2010

Part 1: Arrival, Mass specc hostel, Seafood dinner, and Divisoria Night Cafe and Market

Earlier this year, in anticipation of our friend’s birthday and future acceptance as a licensed chemist, we planned a little getaway to her hometown in Cagayan De Oro (CDO) for a back to back celebration. Fast forward to the future and about a month later, CDO, Bukidnon, and these people will never be the same.

The first thing we noticed about CDO was that their airport was uniquely perched atop a plateau (but don’t quote us on it being a plateau). Now while this could possibly pose difficulties for plane landings, it certainly provides an interesting perspective of the valley below and its surrounding areas. 

We were checked in at MASS SPEC HOSTEL located at Tiano Bros. cor. Yacapin St., a few blocks away from Plaza Divisoria at the city proper. This place is perfect for budget travelers at PHP 250 per bed with air-conditioning, Wifi, a shower, breakfast, and a TV! 

Our hostel was even more special because most of us in the group had a Chemistry background and ‘mass spec’ is short for mass-spectrometer which is an instrument we were all familiar with.

It’s also near Mindy’s (MUST EAT HERE!) which is a restaurant offering scrumptious lunch buffets for less than P200.00 per head! Also in our humble hostel is: The Institute of Cooperative Studies…

…building cooperators to build cooperatives. Now, who wouldn’t enjoy going home to this sight every night?

Our flight, aside from being horrendously delayed, was in the afternoon so it was pretty much dinner time when we got to the city. 

Dinner was provided by our gracious hosts, the Nieva family, whilst entertainment was provided by stories of the misadventures encountered by an earlier group (which included the celebrant) who went out on field the week before involving stalled vans with no headlights, dark roads, the sea, and territorial dogs to say the least.

After a great seafood dinner, we headed out to Divisoria Night Cafe and Market at Plaza Divisoria for some clothes hunting at the ukay ukay where “jockets” go for only PHP 50.00 each! The night cafe and market are set up in the Plaza every Friday and Saturday night. 

(sorry for the blurred picture - Lara)

Despite our bulging tummies, the lure of street food was too hard to resist as we managed to fit in chicken pops and hotdogs after going around the Plaza. Also around this area is Xavier University which houses a museum we weren’t able to visit. There are also lots of fast food chains along the stretch of the Plaza. After a tiring walk and a few good finds, we headed back to our hostel to get in some good Zzzs in preparation for our extreme activities the next day.


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SOME TIPS AND WORDS OF WISDOM:

Try to wait for airfares to go on sale (which they often do) though this usually means booking way way in advance. For this trip, we were booked 5 months ahead. AirphilCebu Pacific, and PAL all have flights to CDO.

You can either rent a van or grab a taxi from the airport to the city. The van is about PHP 700.00 - 1000.00 while a taxi would cost around PHP 250.00 - 300.00. 

Try the PASTEL and the LANZONES!

For rafting and zipline adventures, avail of the complete package from KAGAY for around PHP 1850 per head for a group of about 7-8 pax to maximize your whole day. 

Check out:

Kagay Whitewater Rafting
Dahilayan Adventure Park 
Contact number for bookings (KAGAY): +639177122323

When you go for the rafting and zipline adventures: pack only the essentials like an extra change of clothes and a towel for after the rafting. Though you do have the option to leave your things in the jeepney. There are also changing (and possibly shower) rooms at the “take out” point of the course. It’s also better if you wear strappy sandals instead of just flip flops when you engage in the zipline or rafting. It’ll be nice if you have a water proof camera but they do have a designated photographer kayaking along with the rafts (CDs of the photos go for about PHP 250.00 each). We did have an option to bring our cameras in a dry sack but we didn’t want to risk it. We also brought food and some snacks for the rafting (for that added energy boost) but ask for dry bags from the staff to store these in because a soggy burger is not a happy burger to eat. 

ENJOY!

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