My Instant Family in Ho Chi Minh City

The Situation

I had a good job back in the Philippines, the pay was adequate, too, but I felt that there’s something missing, something I have yet to find. Purpose? Mission? Maybe. Love life? We’ll see. I have thought long and hard and decided to risk everything. So I quit my job and packed my bags for the “greener pasture.” There’s only one plan – that is, to land a job in Singapore before my tourist visa expires. 24 days later, I was still funemployed at the most expensive city in the world. You’ve read that wrong – it should be f’ing unemployed. But don’t curse, kids. Leave it to the adults, especially the jobless. Anyway, I needed to exit and so I booked the cheapest flight to Vietnam. I was all down, sickly and stressed the entire time I was in Singapore. I could easily say that was my lowest point – alone and far from my loved ones. To make matters worst, I learned that our puppy died back home mauled to death by her older sister and brother. Murphy’s law everybody!

There’s a famous saying from Mark Twain:  “…you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” But why do I feel like the universe is really determined to break me? Why do I feel like I made the wrong decision? A massive mistake.

DSCF6373

As depressed as I was, I had to move forward and pray. And by forward, I mean out of the country, else I might get deported. I prepared everything from my flights, to hostel bookings and itinerary. This way, I won’t have problems in the airport. I also posted my travel plans in Couchsurfing. I wasn’t expecting much from that app since I wasn’t able to find hosts here in SG but I was shookt with the responses from Vietnam. I got 2 hosts and a handful of local travelers willing to accompany me on my impromptu trip. I decided to cancel my hostel booking and accept Ricardo’s offer to host, I figured I can save money while living with the locals and learning their culture. I also didn’t want to celebrate my birthday alone roaming the crazy streets of Saigon.

DSCF6257

S A I G O N

I arrived at Saigon in a humid, Thursday afternoon, 26th of October. I took a Grab Bike from the airport to District 9. Lakas maka Hunger Games. Saigon boasts a lot of skyscrapers, soon to rise buildings (perfect for my rooftop climbs), and vast highways catering to the progressing economy of the city. The streets were overrun by motorbikes, undeniably alarming to a point when you’re literally rubbing elbows to a fellow commuter. But the riders were just chill and reserved, so I wasn’t scared at all – documenting the 22km ride through my Instagram stories. District 9 is situated 21km away from the more popular, touristy districts which only means it’s way cheaper here. Guhreat.

DSCF7146

Easy English Community

Finally, I met my host Ric and he introduced me to his cousins and students. Apparently, he’s a full time English teacher who rents an entire building for his company – Easy English Community.

DSCF6322

And yes, that’s where he lives and teaches at the same time. How cool is that? Later that night, I joined his classes and got to meet more of his students. They’re all warm and welcoming. I really felt that I didn’t deserve their kindness. This was the first time that I traveled with no concrete plans whatsoever. I just wanna get out of Singapore and get lost in Vietnam. But the Easy English Community found and took me in like I was no stranger. The following day, Paul brought me to all the famous spots in HCMC with his motorbikes, offered to treat me drinks then took me to must try restaurants and coffee shops.

I got to visit some of them in the University of Technology and Education (UTE) c/o Ric where we had small chit chats, a few get to know you’s and exchanged Ph to Vn cultures. They even greeted me a happy birthday which I really appreciated.

DSCF6317
From L-R: Diamond, Sally, Maria, Roger, Eric, Kid, Michael, Lufy, Paul, Dylan, David, Sarah, Julia, Ricardo, May and Richard. Whew!

The one thing I will never ever forget was the fact that Ric and his dear students prepared a mini party for my birthday, they cooked and stayed up late just to celebrate my birthday. They even let me watch them play Football.

Motorbikes in the City

The next day, I got not only one but four tour guides. They volunteered to join me as we all explore District 1. As it turned out, they are tourists in the city. Most of them didn’t have the time to see the famous spots and I was so happy they got to visit these places the first time with me. It also made the trip into an adventure slash Waze and Google maps dependent ride haha!

DSCF6340
Kicking it off with one of the many pagodas here in HCMC. Viện Minh Đăng Quang pagoda is such a beaut!

And then, I found out that Kid (this kid in white shirt) skipped his class to accompany me. More so, he can talk and practice English. Not an excuse but I’ll take it. Here’s a sneak peak of our fun times in Saigon Zoo.

I arrived in Vietnam alone and lonely but in a matter of hours I gained friends, a family even, I never thought possible. That was the first time in a long time that I felt genuine happiness.

Hồng Ngự and Nong Lam

DSCF6658
Sally’s parents preparing food for the goats in a laid back afternoon in Hồng Ngự

Ric’s kindness is never ending – he brought me to Hồng Ngự, his hometown, which is a 5 hr bus ride from the city. I got to experience the country side of Vietnam. I will be featuring more of this on my next article.

His students were just as kind. Kid, Lassu and Yumi insisted on bringing me to another university – Nong Lam. We had photo shoots, long walks, a quick volleyball game, interactions with a few students, had some good street food finds and lots of laughs.

I Can Get Used To This

DSCF7160
Speaking time with Clinton

Thank you Ric for reaching out, for doing the extra, extra mile in making sure I am enjoying my stay, keeping me involved in your classes and to Diamond for teaching me how to make Vietnamese coffee. I love talking to your students, sharing a bit about myself, my hometown and helping them in my little way to be confident in speaking the English language.

DSCF7135
Typical Speaking night here in Easy English Community

To cap off my stay here, Ric decided to bring me in the early morning to the infamous Black Lady Mountain (996 masl) and later that night, I got to be a teacher to one of his classes. I really didn’t want to leave HCMC but I know I have to.

My first ever international students, we pulled it off guys and girls.

Ric, keep doing what you do best, who knows I might join you in the future! I know it’s hard doing everything all by yourself, just ask if you need help and always take it easy. Til our next adventure my brother from another mother.

DSCF7022
Ric and I hiking the Black Virgin Mountain before I return to Singapore

Thank you for accepting this lost stranger and kept feeding me baby duck haha!

DSCF7199
Not as instant as their coffee but here’s my instant family in HCMC.

I am still on the process of figuring things out, we all are. I don’t know where my feet will take me next. But I have a pretty good idea where I might be next month.

DSCF7101
For now, quickies out…

X

Credits to Noob GFX for the Lightroom Creamy presets I used for some of my photos here. Follow them and see their awesome stuff!

Advertisements

DIY Travel Philippines goes to my hometown

DSCF0224

If there’s one Facebook group that I am most engaged and hooked – it would be DIY Travel Philippines. DIYTP was indeed a  lot of help when I was travelling over the past year. Seriously. If not for this group, I won’t have tipid travels from Mike of Tripidito Travel. (I had the pleasure of getting their services for my mom’s birthday in Palawan and my Be Whole in Bohol escapade). There would’ve been no discounted tours, no random weekend getaways, not to mention the guides I have contacted for my Cebu adventures, Rizal hikes and of course – the friends I gained along the way.

DSCF0061
Speaking of friends, here they are to name a few, L-R: DIYTP Admin Midas, Dwynn, JP aka The Rustic Nomad, Redg, Ynoh, Mommy Edna, Wilbert, Joyce and another admin Bryan.

For the longest time, I have been planning on bringing my friends to Isla Verde.  There were plans, chat groups, official hashtags, even memes, but it never panned out. I can even fill an entire sketch pad with our island life drawings. Well not until last November 2016 where I actually brought three of my closest friends at work in my hometown. So – I wasn’t planning of returning anytime soon. However, there were recent unforeseeable events that literally blew me in a bad, bad way. For me to cope with it, I had to do something, I needed to be anywhere. I had to forget and think things through. Then, the DIYTP Summer Getaway happened.

DSCF0188

I didn’t quite realize how much the island changed the last time I was here – maybe because I was excited to tour my friends back then. But now, those “recent” events took me to a dimension like no other, a perspective no one should see. There was this certain gloom that loomed in the island. Perhaps since most of the people I know were either dead or relocated in the city.

Yes, this is a happy post, an eventually you-will-feel-good write up. Bear with me.

We arrived at Surface Interval resort around 3:00 pm. Some of us were tired and hangry (I think, aka me), but the DIY admins were very apologetic and accommodating you were not gonna be mad at them. Oh come on, we’ve been in their shoes – organizing, planning an event then things spiraled out of control.  We understood. And boy, the admins made it up to us big time. Feeding us with lechon, raffling off loads of stuff, tours to Cebu / Pangasinan / Sagada among others, travel gadgets and the coveted Trip for 2 to goddamn freaking Maldives! Thanks, Dragonfly Holidays #BakaNaman. The items to be given away were too many, we ended up getting one or two (or more – hello Mark with the three power banks). Thanks also to the organizers that sponsor the event, Robin, Geri, to name a few. Even Kim of TripZeeker was there, too!

The funny thing was, the first item to be raffled was a GoPro lanyard. The first ‘casualty’ to receive this item was a 16 year old girl named Joy. Little did we know, Joy would be the last. Yes, she got the grand prize! How lucky can she get, right? From lanyard to Maldives, real quick. Congratulations Joy!

Props to Midas and Jad who aside from hosting the program, made us laugh all the way through. Such fun times!

DSCF0101
DIY Admins preparing the feast. (L-R: Rach, Mich, Jad, Gold, and Midas)
DSCF0243
And by feast, I mean these!
DSCF0128
Everyone got their prize/s – now waiting for the announcement of the grandest prize of them all – Trip for 2 to Maldives c/o Dragonfly Holidays!

What did I win? A free trip to Hundred Islands from LMTA for one. Yes, I guess I’m going solo. Rub it in, DIY.

DSCF0123
Gimme some Open Forum vibes before Socials (pina susyal na term for walwalan)

The part I was looking forward – the walwalan portion. I had shisha c/o Muhamed, free flowing drinks, and this ingenious card game which will defo get you drunk. Thanks to Midas the mastermind. What more can I ask for! We were done at around 6am. Oh yeah, we drank, laughed, shouted, cursed more than we should, sang a few songs and maybe cried a little bit, the entire night. After we cleaned up the area, I took a nap on a bench and had breakfast on light head.

DSCF0140
I spent a total of 3 mins inside this tent. So much for walwaling.

The island tour began – first off to Bgy. San Andres where my father grew up. My brother and I used to go here almost every summer during our childhood days. I sort of toured some of the DIYers in the area and brought them to the light house, yes, it’s a photo ops spot.

Tower Life
View from Lighthouse

Next spot, the infamous Sampalukan corals. We snorkeled and free dived – it was exhilarating! Not that this was important, but these corals happened to be a few meters away from my cool Lolo’s place.

El Nido Feels
Sampalukan Sunset

Want to DIY Isla Verde? See my itinerary and expenses here.

DSCF0093
Sunset view from Surface Interval

Before I forget, the reason we’re doing this summer getaway was because DIYTP reached another year! We are now 2 years old with over 459,000 members and counting. So if you’re still not part of our community,  go ahead and join this wonderful bunch. Not only will you get access to countless itineraries, events, tips and promos, you’ll definitely gain new friends!

friends
Even Facebook took notice! Hi Tim and Mommy Edna who I met here in this summer getaway…
DSCF0121
Lighting up candles for that, congratulations DIYTP!

To know more about DIYTP, kindly visit this link. Yes DIYTP is expanding. Stay tuned for some exciting news.

DSCF0079
“Buti pa yung kahoy, may picture” #SquadGoals #KuyaKamiNaman

Let’s take it to the top, shall we?

drone

drone2Thank you JP for giving me permission to use your sick drone shots! Perhaps I bored you with words – let me show you some live visuals then.

Video credit to the amazing Tim of The Secret Adventures of SkywalkTim.

DSCF0238
Til my next escape to Isla Verde…

X

Quickies, out!

 

7 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN ICELAND

By Where’s Jason

I am one lucky guy who was able to live and study in Iceland from May to October 2015. My classmates and I went to several excursions throughout the course. On weekdays, we studied hard, researched, and did our paper works. On weekends, we traveled harder, explored, and did our IG works. LOL!

DCIM104GOPRO
What to do when at the top of Gulfoss? An IG selfie with friends, that’s right!

We saw several waterfalls, bathed in a lot of hot springs, hiked a number of mountains, drank a gazillion glasses of beers (whoops), and ate a million Icelandic hotdogs. It was an unforgettable experience and it was the best part of my life.

It was so freakin’ cool that I even went back to celebrate the New Year ’s Eve that same year. I booked the most expensive ticket I’ve ever paid for and it was worth it. Iceland became my favorite country. And I’d be more than happy to share this blog post to my friend, Dean, creator of The Quick Escape. (ed – next time share an Iceland ticket, bes Jason hahaha)

Check out the list below for 7 awesome things to do in this wonderful, wonderful country:

  1. GOLDEN CIRCLE TOUR

The most common and popular tour in Iceland is the Golden Circle tour. You can book a tour or rent a car to explore this route. It’s common because it’s the most reachable tour from Reykjavik, the capital city. You can visit up to four tourist hot spots this way.

I did this thrice by doing a field trip with classmates, renting a car, and booking a tour. For flexibility and to have control of your own time, of course, renting a car would be the most obvious choice. But if you want to relax, just sit on the bus, get off to see the guided attractions with limited time, then go ahead, and book a tour. This depends on your travel style.

The first stop would be Thingvellir, followed by the Geyser, the Gulfoss, and then Kerid. This is the usual sequence when taking a tour.

  • Thingvellir is a historic site and a national park. It’s known for its rocky cliffs and fissures. Take a look around and absorb the greenish, mountainous scenery. A scene from the TV series Games of Thrones was even taken here. DCIM108GOPROGOPR0073.
  • The Geyser is a hot spring that erupts every now and then. Wait for a few minutes and watch as it shoots up water and steam. It’s fascinating just to watch this natural phenomenon. DCIM106GOPRO
  • The Gulfoss is a big-ass waterfall. It’s not as big as the Niagara Falls in Canada but it’s still an amazing site to see, especially if there’s a rainbow above the waterfall.DCIM104GOPRO
  • Kerid is one of the prettiest volcanic craters I ever saw. It’s like Christmas sparkled on nature – a mix of green grass and red ash rocks. DCIM106GOPRO

Jason’s hot tip: Book your tour at www.grayline.is

  1. SOUTH ICELAND TOUR

After the Golden Circle Tour, the South Iceland Tour is the next big thing you ought to do. I did this twice, both by road tripping with a friend’s car and a rented one. You can either start very early in the morning to finish it in one whole day or spend a night somewhere for a two-day trip.

OPTION A: DAY TOUR – Start very early around 2 to 3 AM and drive from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon. It is a 5 to 6 hour drive. From Jokulsarlon, head back to the city while stopping for the hot spots.

OPTION B: OVERNIGHT TOUR – Start at 8 AM and stop at the selected attractions. Spend the night at Hofn by booking a hotel or Jokulsarlon by camping. We opted to park at Jokulsarlon and sleep inside our car. We were like the guardians of the glaciers – an extremely cold act I would not advise you to do the same!

ATTRACTIONS ALONG SOUTH ICELAND:

  • Seljalandsfoss is one of my favorite waterfalls because you can go behind the falls to experience its misty vibe. DCIM107GOPRO
  • Seljavallalaug is Iceland’s oldest swimming pool. Drink beers while you bathe  against nature’s backdrop. Skinny dipping, perhaps? DCIM106GOPRO
  • Skogafoss is a waterfall where you can climb up for that spectacular panoramic view.DCIM107GOPRO
  • Vik is unique because of its black beach. (ed – I think this was where Daenery’s set foot in the season premiere of GOT Season 7? One thing’s for sure, Gendry was spotted here!)DCIM107GOPRO
  • Fjadrargljufur is a magical hiking trail featured on Justin Bieber’s “I’ll show you.” Yes, I’ll show you the right angle in taking that perfect shot. DCIM106GOPRO
  • Svartifoss is another awesome waterfall known for its columnar structure. DCIM106GOPRO
  • Fjallsarlon is an odd place like Mars with ice and brownish landscape. DCIM106GOPRO
  • Jokulsarlon is a glacial lagoon filled with bluish ice bergs. DCIM107GOPRO

Jason’s hot tip: Rent your car www.citycarrental.is

  1. DIAMOND CIRCLE TOUR

If you have one week in Iceland, consider going to the North to do the Diamond Circle Tour. You need to have at least three whole days to do this.

DAY 1: Drive from Reyjavik to Akureyri

DAY 2: Diamond Circle Tour

DAY 3: Drive from Akureyri to Reykjavik

ATTRACTIONS ALONG NORTH ICELAND:

  • Akureyri is a laid-back town up north known as the capital of North Iceland. Sounds like my kind of town to just chill, literally. DCIM104GOPRO
  • Godafoss is an elegant yet dramatic waterfall, which was used as a film location for the movie “Prometheus.” Jon Snow, where you at? (dunno your name in the film ha)DCIM104GOPRO
  • Lake Myvatn is the quieter version of the Blue Lagoon. Do some rock balancing while you’re at it.DCIM104GOPRO
  • Hverir by Mt. Namafjall is a land of geothermal hot springs and mud pools. DCIM104GOPRO
  • Viti is a crater near Krafla Volacano. Safest spot to take a groupfie! #NoPun DCIM104GOPRO
  • Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. #PowerDCIM104GOPRO
  • Asbrygi is a gigantic horseshoe-shaped canyon. DCIM104GOPRO
  1. WESTFJORD TOUR

We covered the Northern and Southern parts of Iceland. Now, I’ll take you to the West. This can be accomplished on a weekend or a 2-day trip. Drive from Reykjavik to the West and sleep at Flateyri. In my opinion, it’s best to go here during the winter season. Just be mindful that you may need a 4by4 vehicle to get pass through the thick layers of snow.

DCIM107GOPRO

  1. HIKE MT. ESJA

To get the best panoramic view of the city, trek atop Mt Esja. I hiked this beauty three times – the first one with Filipino friends, the second with classmates, and the third one for a concert. A concert was held on top of a mountain?! You bet!!!

MtEsja

  1. DIVE SILFRA FISSURE

This is my best dive to date. This dive site is located within the Thingvellir national park. It’s open all-year round. Get a chance to dive or snorkel between the Eurasian and North American plates which drift apart for about 2 cm per year. The water is crystal clear and refreshing; you can actually take a sip. Take note that temperature does go down to 1°C.

DCIM106GOPRO

It’s definitely a unique and rewarding experience. Get ready to experience the best brain breeze of your life! (ed – I wouldn’t mind getting brain freeze if I can be at two continents at once!!!)

DCIM106GOPRO

Jason’s hot tip: Book your dive tour at www.dive.is

  1. BATH IN THE BLUE LAGOON

The most relaxing thing to do in a cold country like Iceland is to bath in its geothermal waters. And the most popular geothermal spa in this country is the Blue Lagoon, which was formed by accident. The water is blue because it contains Silica, which is a by-product of the nearby geothermal power plant.

DCIM107GOPRO

I recommend you try this right after arriving at the airport. It will calm your nerves and your body. It’s soothing. Drink a beer while dipping your body in this geothermal wonder.

DCIM102GOPRO

Jason’s hot tip: Book your airport transfer plus blue lagoon admission at https://grayline.is/tours/blue-lagoon/

In sum, these are just 7 out of the tons of awesome activities you can do in Iceland. These are just the ones that pop up first in my head. Don’t think for a second I forgot about Aurora Borealis. Here you go folks – a bonus attraction that everyone has to see or at least if the skies allow you to – The Northern Lights! Those dazzling lights will definitely blow your mind.

Northernlights

Northernlights2

 —————————————————————————————————————————————-

Jason Gotuato is the guy behind www.wheresjason.com. He writes technical reports during the day and travel stories at night – an engineer by profession and a traveler by heart. He has done a lot of crazy stuff from diving between the North American and Eurasian plates, to jumping out of a plane. Hats off to you bro!!!

His quest is to conquer this world and bring out the adventurer in all of us. Take a peek into his adventures @wheresjasong on Facebook and @wheresjason_ig on Instagram. Follow him as he lives his life, one adrenaline rush at a time.

X

Quickies, out!

Long Weekend Laresio

DCIM100GOPROGOPR5245.

Looking for a quick, adrenaline pumped, weekend getaway? Hurry now and waze your way to Laresio Lakeside Resort & Spa!

Above is the ginormous slide for Slip ‘N Fly and on the far right of the photo is the intimidating 32ft cliff dive.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR6385.

So why did we end up here? Convenience,  budgetarians, and we’re thrill seekers, so. It’s just an hour drive from Manila! In order to meet the schedule of our balikbayan friend, Marcris, Cristina and I opted for a day tour. We just walked in and  booked a day tour from 7:00am -12:00am (the longest day tour I ever experienced).

Hello there, Alligator Lake!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR5268.

Yes, this lake used to be crocodilian’s home; but now, alligators and crocodiles have been extirpated. Sad. Would have been exhilarating to kayak with these wild creatures.

Laresio three-l seekers! Get it? lol

DCIM100GOPROG0016434.

So let’s have a run down of some of the activities we partaken that pretty much banged us up (in a good way):

The Blob (Jump and Fly) –  just lay peacefully in the blob, next thing you know, you’re 20 ft in the air.

GPExportPhoto-0011

DCIM100GOPROG0075161.

Ouch. But it was fun!

Zip line Lake – you get to see entirety of this lake. Surreal.

GPExportPhoto-0005

DCIM100GOPROG0066507.

Introducing the cheapest go pro pole ever  (safety of your go pro not guaranteed)

GPExportPhoto-0004

Wall Climbing – we couldn’t care less climbing this wall even under 30 degrees. Nognog goals.

GPExportPhoto-0003

Rappelling – you know what they say, what goes up must come down.

GPExportPhoto-0002

Slip ‘N Fly – smile, slide then take don’t forget to take a selfie

GPExportPhoto-0009

GPExportPhoto-0007

GPExportPhoto-0006

Kayaking – we got to see the lake from above, now we experience the lake itself.

DCIM100GOPROG0116574.

32 ft Cliff Diving – save the beast for last, yup, this one is the beast!

GPExportPhoto-0001

Kuya Jomar, the best Laresio staff ever, was so generous he allowed us to party and karaoke our lungs out till the wee hours in the morning.

GPExportPhoto-0013

GPExportPhoto-0001 (2)

We got Laresio all to ourselves!

The extreme activities Laresio has to offer aren’t for everyone. If you want to lay back and chill, you can do it too here. They have a spa for goodness sake 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR6594.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR6592.

DCIM100GOPROG0135291.

Itinerary:
Extreme Laresio for 1,500php/pax (2 meals included)

10:00 am – arrival at Laresio
 Overhang Swing️
 Vine Swing
 13ft Cliff Diving
 Blob (Jump & Fly)
1:00 pm – Lunch
 Slip n’ Fly
 Zipline Lake
 Kayaking
 Wall Climbing
 Rappelling
 32ft Cliff Diving
6:00 pm -Rest
6:30 pm – Dinner
9:00 pm – Comedy Bar & Live Band
12:00 – 4:00 am – Karaoke & Walwal

DCIM100GOPROGOPR6393.

Here’s our extreme, adrenaline pumped weekend where we paid to get bruises

Please watch in HD.

🎧🎶 Matoma & Becky Hill – False Alarm
🎥📷 GoPro Hero4 (no filter)

We had a great time! Well, zoom in to Mac’s face if you want proof. Hahaha!

I definitely recommend this place – great staff, value for your money & extreme water activities!

DCIM100GOPROG0016435.

Quickies, out!

X

Cebu Crazies

What to do when in south of Cebu?

Well for five days, we hopped from one place to another: Cebu City – Moalboal – Badian – Oslob – Santander – Samboan – Sumilon, basically enjoying every activity thrown our way. No bruises, wounds, food allergy, gadget failure & other unfortunate events aka roaches-room-invasion can bring this group down.

From perfect strangers to crazy travelers!

#CebuCrazies #quickescape #whenincebu

Full article click here.


🎧 Jonas Blue – Perfect Strangers ft. JP Cooper

Video entirely shot in GoPro Hero4. 

Enjoy the video! Please watch in HD!

X

Finding Boo In South Cebu

Couchsurfing, popular site for travelers and backpackers, paved the way for me to meet new friends from all over the world, be exposed to different cultures and changed the way I live my life.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR3531.

I was doing my rounds in that site, casually helping (and promoting my blog) to travelers going to the Philippines. Then I found Megan; and right there and then, we clicked. I found myself spontaneously booking a flight for Cebu with her host – Mark. Crazy? No. That’s just an ordinary day in my book.

The group’s first meeting was at the airport before our flight to Cebu. No turning back now. Usually, I would have a vibe and know if I could get along with a person, when I met them; everything was just a perfect fit. Upon landing, we made our way to SM Seaside City Cebu, had a quick breakfast, took a shuttle for 100php/pax bound for Moalboal. We arrived at around 1pm, hired a tricycle for 100php/ 3pax taking us straight to Moalboal Backpacker Lodge in Panagsama Beach. This is a dormitory type of lodge with public restrooms & shower rooms, dirty kitchen, refrigerator, multiple electrical outlets and hammocks everywhere! I would definitely recommend this lodge – it’s cheap, clean, and walking distance from sardine run and sea turtles! So dope, right?!

After buying fresh fruits from the market, the three of us wasted no time and went plunging straight to Moalboal waters. There was a storm brewing at the time bringing currents; hence, the sardine run wasn’t as exquisite in the photos. Nonetheless, the experience itself was marvelous. Go ahead, dive in, and see for yourselves.

DCIM100GOPROG0093259.

Walwal Night

The Chili Bar is one of the busiest pubs in the area – and yes that’s pretty much where I ended the day. Hashtag shocking. I have found new friends, delved into deep conversations, discovered I can be a Colombian, exchanged travel tales, danced like no one was looking, sang til my vocal chords gave up, walked deserted streets at wee hours of the night. Thank you Jessica, Kyle, Doug, Jordin, Lisa, Wout, and especially to you Ana. Ana – you’re just sneaky cute – I actually thought of ditching Oslob and accompanying you one more night in Moalboal haha. I guess, I will have to book a flight to Shanghai and let me couch surf at your place. Then tour me around and teach me how to dance and I will sing whatever you requested. [Update] You’re back in the Philippines and we haven’t met again, how frustrating 😦

Woke up 2 hours later with a massive hangover – but it didn’t stop me from seizing that brand new day. The group had complimentary coffee with Lisa joining us. Thank heavens for the caffeine fix. After quick chit chats, we hopped on a nearby tricycle that brought us to the market then paid 29php each for the bus to take us to Matutinao/ Badian. There, we were welcomed by our guide to Kawasan falls. We had three activities lined up – falls jumping levels 1-3 (running jump, 50ft and 15ft jump); bamboo rafting and water slide w swing. It also included life jacket, entrance & guide fees. All for 600 php per pax, not bad.

Series of Unfortunate Events 

Here I was. Again. Finding myself at the edge of the cliff with wobbly knees but ready to jump. So I did. The camera wasn’t. When I surfaced, I immediately checked if the gopro was on the right angle. To my horror, it was gone. Our guide didn’t think twice, jumped after me and dived to retrieve it. Thank heavens he found it. Not long after that commotion, Mark and Megan jumped. We hiked to the next cliff – probably 50-60 ft high. The view was surreal.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR3239.

 After the jumps, I found a spot and captured some shots for my blog. Mark and Megan did some photo shoot on their own. Later when I joined them, my pole being broken was just a tip of the iceberg in terms of the shit the group fell into. Mark and Megan slipped while doing their shoot. Pretty sure Megan said she had a mild concussion while Mark, on the other hand, wounded himself and soaked his thousand dollar camera!

Alright, enough bad luck for one day (or so I thought). To counter these, I say coffee, I won’t get tired of coffee. Right, Megan?

Photo 01-07-2016, 3 52 54 PM

Crazy Travelers

Mark, being the very generous one, hired a taxi from Moalboal to Tan-awan, Oslob. What a selfless gesture! Thank you Mark. We arrived at around 9pm give or take; unfortunately, all of the hostels were fully booked. This was a Saturday night, so it’s given. Lo and behold, there’s a one good find (or probably just good luck) – Lirasan Store in front of Brumini Resort. We paid Php 800/night for the entire group; that’s roughly Php 270 per pax ($6!!). Oh did I mention, the back door cases of the GoPro were stolen in the lodge and I almost lost my phone. No biggie.

Allow me to introduce the final, integral part of the Crazy Travelers group – Fabio. Yes, out of nowhere, after we were settled in, he showed up alight a bus looking for accommodation. And by settling in, I mean rush fumigation of our room. It  would be best if I kept the specifics to myself. Good thing, our stay-in compound has one vacant room left. After catching up over dinner with our lives scattered across the world, we called it a night. For tomorrow, we are in for a sight of the mights.

Encounter With Whale Sharks

Swimming with whale sharks is definitely one of the heated issues in the traveling community. Thanks to these gentle giants, I was able to fully grasp what travelling is all about – coexistence. It’s in this experience I saw how grand these life forms were and how intimidating their presence could be.

DCIM100GOPROG0163351.

 I have faith in our government and organizations that there will come a time where we can freely enjoy their humongous company without endangering their very existence.

And nope, our streak of bad luck continued when Megan’s flipper was kicked by one of the guides and was forever lost to oblivion.

[Tip]: Stay at a lodge near the whale sharks (Tan-awan, Oslob). Be early. Like 5:30 am early.

The Adventure Continues

Shrugging off the negativity, we set off to new adventures. We were done with the whale sharks by around 7:30 am. By 8:00 am, we were on our way to Samboan to see some majestic falls.

The falls took a toll in our rumbling stomachs. Our guide slash driver took us to a restaurant in Pebble Beach, Santander (the southern most part of Cebu where Dumaguete is a stone throw away). That might be a little exaggerated, but what I am exaggerating now is the fact that we saw dolphins casually passing through as we lay on the beach! What a treat!

Photo 03-07-2016, 3 07 34 PM

And we’re not just done yet. Not only the dolphins passed through but also this storm. Storm has no chill.

Photo 03-07-2016, 3 48 19 PM

We ran to the restaurant and grabbed a few beers. It’s Fabio’s last night in the Philippines so we’ll make the most out of it.

Photo 03-07-2016, 5 45 26 PM

We thought we lost you, gorgeous sunset. Hells yeah! FYI sunset in Pebble beach is stunning!

The Private Island

Fabio jetted off quite early in the morning bound for Cebu. We haven’t said goodbyes just see you later in Barcelona, right bruh?  By 7:30 am, we arrived at the reception (it’s just a 20 minute walk from Lirasan). After we paid 1,500 php per pax, off we go to the private island!

I highly recommend you guys to stop by this resort! Loads of stuff to do here, perfect for families, couples, backpackers; basically, everyone. You can snorkel in a marine protected area, kayak, fish feed, trek, play beach volleyball, badminton, chill in their pools or in the sand bar, why not. Loads of stuff to do – and did I mention there’s a lunch buffet included in the package? GUHREAT.

The City

Due to operational malfunction, Air Asia scheduled us on a separate, later flights. Mark and Megan took theirs while I opted to stay for one more day to explore the city. Hashtag one more.

Itinerary & Expenses

Day 1 (Cebu City – Moalboal)
6:00 am  Flight to Cebu via Air Asia
Transpo QC to NAIA (bus – 30php and cab – 100php)
Coffee – 53php
7:30 am   ETA Cebu
8:30 am   My Bus to SM City Cebu – 25php
9:15 am    Breakfast @ Sunburst – 100php
10:00 am Cab to SM Seaside – 120 php
Popcorn – 130php
10:30 am PUV to Moalboal – 100php/pax
1:30 pm    Moalboal market
Langka – 30php
2:00 pm   Moalboal Backpackers check in (400php/pax/day)
Snorkel rent – 150php
Unli Brewed Coffee – 80php
M O A L B O A L   A C T I V I T I E S
Sardine Run + Turtle Sightings
9:00 pm  Chili Bar
Beers – 500php (my total share)
Day 2 (Moalboal – Tan-awan, Oslob)
7:00 am Ride trike to market – 100php/3pax
Water – 25php
Paracetamol – 80php
7:30 am Market to Badian – 30php
8:00 am Badian
Breakfast – 50php
K A W A S A N   A D V E N T U R E
9:00 am Kawasan jumps + slide – 600php/pax
Tip to guide – 50php
Chips – 90php
Lunch @local eatery – 50php
2:00 pm The Coffee Shop -120php
3:00 pm Free time (Sardine Run)
7:00 pm Cab to Tan-awan, Oslob
8:30 pm  Lodge hunting at Oslob
9:00 pm Lirasan Store dinner – 100php
Beers – 90php
Day 3 (Oslob – Samboan – Santander)
5:30 am   Snooze off/ freshen up
6:00 am  Shuttle to whale shark drop off point -500php/pax (local); 1000php (foreigner)
6:30 am  Orientation
W H A L E S H A R K S   E N C O U N T E R
7:20 am  Brisk walk to our lodge to shower
8:30 am  Off to Samboan, Cebu
Tricycle rented for 1 day – 300php/pax
S A M B O A N   F A L L S
9:00 am  Aguinid Falls
Entrance – 20php/pax
Tip – 50php
Parking – 25php
11:00 am Hidden Falls
Entrance – 20php/pax
Tip – 50php
1:00 pm   Lunch at Pebble Beach – 160php
C H I L L I N ‘  A T   S A N T A N D E R   B E A C H
4:00 pm  Meryenda (beer + fries) -100php
Another round on me – 155php
6:30 pm   Back to Tan-awan
8:00 pm  Dinner at Brumini Resort – 280php
Day 4 (Sumilon – Cebu City)
7:00 am   Breakfast – 80php
7:30 am    Walk to Sumilon Resort reception – 1500php/pax
S U M I L O N   P R I V A T E   I S L A N D
1:30 pm     Back to lodge
Lirasan Lodge – 533php/pax for 2D/2N stay
2:30 pm    Bus to Cebu City – 149php
6:30 pm    Check in at Tr3ats – 350php/pax overnight
9:00pm     Dinner at Larsian -140php
Jeeps – 21php
Day 5 (Cebu City)
E X T E N D E D  S T A Y   I N   T H E   C I T Y 
Tr3ats 1 day stay – 900php
Breakfast – 100php
Jeeps – 21php
Lunch at Robinson’s Cyber Gate – 200php
Bar hopping – Booze – 1000php
Day 6 (Cebu – MNL)
B A C K   T O   R E A L I T Y
Cab to airport – 250php
Breakfast – 100php
Grab NAIA to Pasay terminal – 125php
Lunch – 170php

My Take Aways

Yeah, I may have not found my boo in south Cebu. But, to have these friends and the experience can somehow make up for it. Well, maybe not. But you get the point. 😀
S/O to Mark for that cab ride treat and some of your shots here were lit. Carol, as always, thank you for being generous – I still owe you dinner!
PS. Fabio, I still have the 70K IDR. I might have to use it in Bali someday haha 🙂
Quickie tip: Enjoy life like a kid!
Photo 03-07-2016, 11 38 05 AM
Cheers everyone!
Photo 03-07-2016, 5 43 14 PM
Quickies, out!
x

Since there’s no Laboracay 2018

I have created a short video on my trip last year to one of the most pristine beaches in the country, in the world rather.

What’s Laboracay though? It is a summer beach party there in Boracay during the Labor Day weekend. Hence, the coined term Laboracay is born, Labor x Boracay, you don’t say?!

Escape with me and take a quick plunge to Boracay, Philippines!

PS. Videos taken using GoPro Hero4 and Hero3+. Check out the entire adventure here.

PPS. Laboracay can kiss my ass!

Til my next travel, quickies out!

X