Betcha Bye BALI Wow

After a grueling 2-week, work-related trips around Central Thailand and Java in Indonesia, I spent my then untouched annual leave in Bali.  My original plan was to go to Jeju Island in Korea but I wasn’t sure if my body was ready for a winter-y holiday so I ended up doing a 6-day staycation in the famed Indonesia island getaway.

So what did I do during that almost one week trip in Bali? Here is a rundown:

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1. Chased some sunset, surfed, and strolled along the beach. I stayed around the Kuta Beach and Seminyak Beach areas so a splendid sunset view is a regular. Plus, these beaches have waves one can’t resist to ride so surfing is a good option to do. Also, you can go to Padang-Padang Beach, a famous small beach on the way to Uluwatu temples. It is one of those places Julia Roberts filmed in the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

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2. Went nature-tripping in Ubud. Perhaps the best place to relax — the greenery, the gimmickry (think giant swings, infinite pools in the middle of forests, photogenic picture taking corners), and some friendly primates make Ubud a must visit.

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3. Jaw-dropping seascape of Nusa Penida island. From the very scenic Broken Beach to the uber-mesmerizing Kelingking Beach, this island’s wonders shouldn’t be missed. I wish I stayed longer in this island as it seems to have more to offer.

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4. Bali, predominantly Hindu in religion, is filled with temples. Some of which are found near beaches, and cliffs adding beauty to seaside views. I really didn’t explore much of the other well-known temples of Bali as I had an overdose of these structures during my 1-week Thailand trip. I only managed to see Uluwatu and Tanah Lot – perhaps 2 of the most frequented temples in the island.

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5. Experience Balinese culture at the GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) Cultural Park, a cultural park about 10–15 minutes driving from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. It is devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu, and his mount, Garuda, the mythical bird who became his companion. Thanks to a very generous and kind local I met at the Jakarta airport, Sir Gunawan (an architect of the park) who invited and have shown me the beauty and vastness of this place.

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6. Lastly, probably the best thing I did in Bali — sleep and just laze around (doing nothing), and at times, spend some lovely time by the pool. Accommodation in Bali are some of the cheapest yet they have very comfortable, beautifully adorned rooms and relaxing pools!

So there… I may not have totally fallen in love with Bali, but I still enjoyed my relaxing and not so tight (in terms of itinerary) schedule. Maybe the next time I visit the island, the company of friends and loved ones would add more delight. Take it easy. Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust.

Filipi-Know: Pinoy Words I Love.

Words are exceptionally the most commanding force presented to people. The use of such is something we do every single day whenever we talk to people, and even to ourselves. We either have the freedom to utilize this power beneficially through words of inspiration, or damagingly using words of desolation.

Words have authority. It can either make or break a person. It has the ability to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to harass, to humiliate and to humble a human being.

So I am sharing some Filipino words I love to here, and say. Which one is your favorite? Can you use them in a sentence? Take it away.

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Take it easy everyJuan.

Santiago: Ilocos Sur (PH)

Whenever Ilocos Sur is brought up as a travel destination, the outright attraction that come up is Vigan with its ancestral houses, and cobblestone street, and old churches. But there is more to Ilocos Sur to this world-renowned heritage city.

A little south of Vigan is a coastal town called Santiago. This small town is often unnoticed by visitors going to the Ilocandia primarily because the other tourist spots of the region are more established and has graced almost every travel magazines and ads. But if you are up for some off-beaten destinations then one should consider Santiago.

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I first visited Santiago in 2011. A friend of mine suggested that I check out Sabangan Cove. So one time I was on an Ilocos Sur trip, I included this town in my itinerary. I went to first visit Pinsal Falls and Santa Maria Church in the town of Santa Maria, then I went to see Sabangan Cove.

It wasn’t love at first sight. But, I was just simply happy that I found a serene beach place back then. There weren’t too many people, only local fisherfolks and some children playing along the cove’s shore.

Fastforward: February this year (2018), during a long weekend. I decided to leave Baguio and go elsewhere that isn’t flocked by tourists. During day 1 of the 3-day long weekend, I went to San Juan, La Union. And it was a bad decision since the once quiet surf town is filled with people! So the following day, I traveled my way to Santiago.

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Seven years after my first visit, I am happy that the town has made more development and has opened more places to visit. Of course, there is still Sabangan Cove, where I spent my late afternoon marveling at the spectacular sunset. This is what I have missed during my first visit.

Then there is Vitalis Villas, a Santorini-inspired resort that boasts off a breathtaking view of the sea and Sabangan cove. The blue and white colored villas constructed on the cliff are such a beauty to behold.

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But the main highlight of my stay in Santiago is discovering a quainter side of this coastal town. A beach called Ambucao and a rock formation called Biak-na-Bato or Mapisi Rock. Ambucao Beach surprisingly, have a quite long stretch of white sand coastline with clear waters. Mapisi Rock, on the other hand, is comprised of huge boulder of coral rocks that looks like halved into two. It does have a cave-like structure. Atop the largest boulder are some Bangar trees (Sterculia foetida – oh how I love reminiscing Pharmacognosy with these things I get to see during travel)), a tree that is infamous for its flowers odor. These are places one would not hear about or has been flocked by visitors (both local and foreign). A certified off-beaten path. I had a great time in these places, which are total opposites of San Juan (where I first went to see).

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How to Get Here:

  • One may take any bus going to Vigan/ Laoag and inform the driver to drop you off at Santiago town proper. Take a tricycle and tell your driver to drop you off at Brgy. Sabangan. All 4 places (Sabangan Cove, Vitalis Villas, Ambucao Beach, Mapisi Rock) are close to each other.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Quezon City Memorial Circle (PH)

Dreamy, rousing and outright Instagram-worthy – these are often how I describe a captured sunset experience. Most of us rave about the setting sun’s beauty along the beach. I, personally, consider it as one of the most spectacular moments. But since I work in the metro, a sunset view by the beach is a rare sighting. After working for more than a year now in the Greater Manila Area, I have come to scout places where I can draw out inspiration.

One particular place I find really inspiring is the Quezon City Memorial Circle (QCMC). The “Circle” as locals would call it, has to be one of the prominent landmarks in Quezon City. Through the years, with the endless efforts of the local government, it has been undergoing a lot of changes so as to attract more tourists.

The Quezon Memorial Circle is a national park and a national shrine located in the Philippines City of Stars, Quezon City. The park is located inside a large traffic circle that is elliptical in shape. Its main feature is a tall mausoleum containing the remains of the second official President of the Republic of the Philipppines, Manuel L. Quezon together with his better half, Lady Aurora Quezon.

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I have been to QCMC on 3 different occasions. The most recent one happened when I was fortunately invited to a blogventure as part of the city’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

QCMC is pretty big in terms of area. My favorite spot though is the Circle’s centerpiece — The Quezon Memorial Shrine. This is an art deco-themed monument built during the 1950s. This 66-meter shrine houses an observation deck that can be accessed via spiral staircase. The monument also consists of three vertical pylons (representing the three main geographic divisions of the country: Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao) with three grieving angels holding sampaguita (the Philippines national flower) wreaths.

In front of the monument is a dancing fountain that is lit up during sundown and further makes the area jovial and colorful at night. Many people start to flock this area as the day ends and as darkness starts to creep in. I love the sight of people (family, friends, visitors/tourists) enjoying the beauty of “The Circle”. As for me, the sunset view at this park is such a visual spectacle that makes me feel relaxed and inspired.

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***My visit to Quezon City Memorial Circle is not originally part of the 3 destinations we were assigned to visit during Quezon City’s 75th anniversary celebration. Since the Ninoy Aquino Wildlife Park was already closed when we arrived, I opted to come back the following day and go to QCMC.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Corong-Corong Beach (Palawan, PH)

Come watch with me the shaft of fire that glows
In yonder West: the fair, frail palaces,
The fading Alps and archipelagoes,
And great cloud-continents of sunset-seas.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

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Whenever I travel, I always take note where I could possibly watch the sundown. You see, I have developed this sense of connection with the setting sun. To me, it is one of the most beautiful and magical things in this world.

During an El Nido visit, my friends and I decided to chase the sunset at the quiet and not so touristy Corong-Corong Beach after beach bumming around Nacpan – Calitang Beach (read write up here at https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/the-twin-beach-of-el-nido-nacpan-calitang/).

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Corong-Corong Beach is located in Brgy. Corong-Corong, (hence the name), a fishing village 2 kilometers south from El Nido town center. Just like the twin beaches of Nacpan- and Calitang, this beach is also laidback yet appealing in vibe. And dissimilar to the beaches at the town’s center, the shore is not obstructed by boats hence a more picturesque view can be seen.

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From the main street, my friends and I walked about a hundred meters until we reached the beach proper.  The golden brown sand stretches long and is fringed with towering coconut trees. The area is dotted with several accommodations and is not congested with bars and restaurants. Obviously, it is a much quieter place that would surely make a more relaxing stay.

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While waiting for the sunset at this side of Palawan, my friends went on to swim and try the clear, shallow waters of Corong-Corong while I took photos of the place. A few more minutes and the sun started to mesmerize us with its golden rays as it says goodbye. As in every sunset I have witnessed, the settling down of the sun always evoke a sense of respite and that it is a beauty to behold.

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Accommodation along Corong-Corong:

RESORT/INN Estimated Price range/Night Contact Number
All Seasons Beach Resort Php 2000-4000 +63917 541 9804

+63919 452 4266

Arbor Beach Cottage Php 700-1000 +63999 385 2566

+63949 390 3163

El Nido Overlooking Php 3500 +63916 631 7078
Greenviews Resort and Restaurant Php 1000-2700 +63921 586 1442
Island Front Cottages Php 1500-3500 +63999 994 1309

+63918 967 6829

Las Cabanas Beach Resort Php 4500 +63917 887 8808
Lugadia Beach Cottages Php 700-1000 +63907 476 5922

+63919 572 6372

Orange Pearl Beach Resort Php 1500-3500 +63906 215 2549

+63930 720 8633

Sheryl May Inn Php 1000-1500 +63930 720 3091

+63916 574 5444

Stunning Vistas Beach Resort Php 1700-3500  +63999 566 0888

+63921 751 5783

Talindak Beach front Cottages Php 1500 +36 909 492 5944

+63 918 679 7643

Telesfora Beach Cottage Php 1000-1500 +63917 731 8034

+63919 697 7378

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How to get to Corong-Corong Beach

From Manila, ride a plane to Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan or a direct (more expensive) flight to El Nido proper. From Puerto Prinsesa airport, there are vans that directly go to El Nido. The travel time would be around 5 hours. Alternative is to ride a bus but will take longer hours of land travel. Once in El Nido town center, ride a tricycle going to Corong-Corong Beach.

You might want to check out http://www.letspalawan.com/  for more…

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Talahid Beach (Biliran, PH)

Talahid Beach is perhaps one of the most popular and frequented beach in mainland Biliran province.The beach, which is located in the town of Almeria, is lined with several resorts and it faces some islands like Dalutan and Capinahan Islands.

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The beach may not have fine white sand (rather, it has pebble to coralline like sandy shoreline) but it possesses a calm and crystal clear water that is difficult to resist. Moreover, the beach becomes magical both in the morning and in the afternoon as the sunrise and sunset can be both viewed from the area.

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There are 3 well-established resorts in the area.

Resort Contacts
Agta Beach Resort +63 927 150 0335, +63 920 583 0480, +63 936 970 2476 or email at
info@agtabeachresort.com
Coco Grove (Talahid Beach Resort) +63 917 826 9321
VRC Resort +63 (0) 9164665809;  vrcresort@gmail.com

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These resorts may arrange your tour within the island like island-hopping tour to Sambawan Island, Maripipi Island, Capinahan Island and Dalutan Island. You may also trek you way to the many waterfalls of Almeria (and Biliran in general) like Ulan-Ulan, Recoletos and many more. If you wish to do various water activities like snorkelling, SCUBA diving, kayaking and paddle boarding, you can just let the resorts staff know.

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How to Get to Talahid Beach:

From Manila, fly to Tacloban City in Leyte. From Tacloban, you have several options to get to Talahid, Almeria, Biliran. The most frequent, and conducive way is to hire a van although there are also public transports like jeepney or taxi that will take you to the van terminal and get on a van to Naval (Biliran’s capital). Once in Naval, ride a bus to Kawayan and get off right at the top of the Talahid Beach where most of the aforementioned resorts driveway are. You can also hire a habal-habal from Naval for a faster means of transport to Talahid.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Hinugtan Beach (Aklan, PH)

Found at the westernmost part of the province of Aklan is a quiet coastal town with natural wonders waiting to be explored. And if you adore off-the-beaten beaches and you are up for a little (mis)adventure, then Hinugtan Beach in Buruanga would probably charm your wandering soul.

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Hinugtan Beach is a secluded, white sand beach fringed by coconut trees, is said to be a replica of Boracay’s, only it is a smaller version. But unlike Boracay, what you’ll stumble on is delight in solitude, enjoyment that isn’t too pricey on your pocket.

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Buruanga, being an out-of-the-way destination, does not only offer Hinugtan’s cerulean waters. It is also home to the famed Ariel’s Point( formerly called Batason Point) which is a a cliff diving spot most Boracay tourists visit. And after an entire day swimming, snorkelling or just lazing along the area, get ready to feed your eyes with an awe-inspiring sunset.

If you are planning to stay overnight, you can bring with you a tent or you may stay in one of the cottages of Tuburan Baybay Resort.

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How to Reach Hinugtan Beach:

Since the town is located nearby Caticlan Airport, this would be the nearest airport from Manila. Alternative is the Kalibo International Airport in Aklan’s capital. The most common route from there is to go to Boracay and charter a boat going to Hinugtan which is only about an hour away.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Paradise by a Hundred (Alaminos, Pangasinan, Philippines)

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. — John Donne

A trip to Hundred Islands National Park and its home, Alaminos City, is a great distraction from the hustle and bustle of the demanding, city life. The invigorating seascape views – with the islands looking like emerald gems atop cerulean waters and the bucolic landscapes as you make your way to Alaminos City – is a great respite.

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The Hundred Islands National Park is a marine park/reserve in Pangasinan, Northern Philippines. The islands, with a total number of 124 at low tide and 123 at high tide, are dotted in theGulf of Lingayen.  Four  of them have been developed for tourism: Governor Island, Quezon Island, Marcos Island and Children’s Island. The Lucap Wharf in Alaminos, the entrance to the National Park, is about 240 kilometres north of Manila.

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The islands are believed to be about two million years old. They are actually ancient corals that extend well inland, in an area previously comprising the seabed of an ancient sea. The lowering of the sea level has exposed them to the surface. The peculiar “mushroom-like” shapes of some of the islands were caused by the action of the ocean waves.

Here’s the list of prices of services or fees you could avail if you are planning a Hundred Islands Tour.

  • ENTRANCE/ENVIRONMENTAL FEE (PHP):

– Day Tour – Php 40.00
– Overnight – Php 80.00

Note:
– Children 5 years old and below are free of charge and 20% discount for the Senior Citizen.
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  • MOTORBOAT RATES:
    • SMALL (good for 5 persons)

Day Tour:
– Regular – Php 1,000.00
– Day Tour Service Boat – Php 1,400.00
Overnight:
– Regular – Php 2,000.00
– Overnight Service Boat – Php 3,000.00

  • MEDIUM (good for 10 persons)

Day Tour:
– Regular – Php 1,300.00
– Day Tour Service Boat – Php 1,800.00
Overnight:
– Regular – Php 2,500.00
– Overnight Service Boat – Php 3,800.00

A natural pool inside Marcos Island
A natural pool inside Marcos Island
  • LARGE (good for 15 persons)

Day Tour:
– Regular – Php 1,500.00
– Day Tour Service Boat – Php 2,000.00
Overnight:
– Regular – Php 3,000.00
– Overnight Service Boat – Php 4,500.00

Note:

*Day Tour covers island hopping that is limited to three islands including: Quezon IslandGovernor’s Island and Children’s Island. 20 minutes only per island, just choose one island were you opt to stay and the boat will leave you and will be there to fetch you upon agreed time.

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*Service Boat covers island hopping to all islands you want to visit including caves and coral garden. No time limit and the boat will stay with you until you finish your Hundred Islands journey.

For accommodation rates in the major islands, please do check this site for a complete rate list: http://www.asensopangasinan.com/hundred-islands-national-park-rates-and-rental-fees/

Some of the islands now offer various activities like inter-island ZIPLINE, ROCK CLIMBING AND RAPPELLING adventures.

  • Zipline (120m) – Php 100.00 / Jump
  • Zipline (546m) – Php 250 / Jump
  • Wall Climbing – Php 50.00 / Pax
  • Rappelling – Php 50.00 / Pax
  • 3 in 1 Package – Php 175.00

Where to eat in Hundred Islands?

You can prepare and bring your own food. There’s a food court in Lucap wharf. There are also fast foods available in the town proper. You can also try some restaurants near the Lucap wharf.

For further inquiries, you may call the Lucap Wharf Tourism Welcome Center:  0928-244-9011

Hundred Islands Sunset
Hundred Islands Sunset

How to get to Hundred Islands… 
Public bus lines, like Victory Liner, Five Star, and Philippine Rabbit have scheduled rides from Manila, Baguio, Dagupan, Subic, Tarlac, and Zambales bound straight to Alaminos City and vice versa.

From the terminal, either by private vehicle or tricycle, the Lucap Wharf is only a 10 to 15-minute ride away. You can find boats bound for the islands docked near the Wharf, with the Hundred Islands National Park Center staff eager to assist you with information and other things you’ll need for your island adventure. The nearest islands from the Lucap Wharf are Sulpot Island, Monkey Island, Abad Santos Island and Hernandez Island, which are all 15 to 20 minutes away. The major islands, Children’s, Governor’s and Quezon can be reached after a 25 to 45-minute boat ride.

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Philippines’ Sunset

“The sunset faded and blended from pink to peach to mango in a smoothie in the sky. For as long as she doesn’t love me, I will love her.”
― Jarod Kintz, A Story That Talks about Talking Is Like Chatter to Chattering Teeth, and Every Set of Dentures Can Attest to the Fact That No..

I am inspired by anything beautiful. Tonight's inspiration is drawn out from this spectacular sunset I have captured atop our building. It's yet another stunning Manila Bay sunset at this side of the world.
I am inspired by anything beautiful. Tonight’s inspiration is drawn out from this spectacular sunset I have captured atop our building. It’s yet another stunning Manila Bay sunset at this side of the world. (March 18, 2015)

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El Nido
Magical sunset in Corong-Corong Beach, El Nido Palawan. April 2014.
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“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.” ― George R.R. Martin (Sunset at Naidi Lighthouse, Basco, Batanes. June 2014)
Surfing at San Juan, La Union.
Surfing at San Juan, La Union.
Baguio City and its golden sky.
Baguio City and its golden sky.