PH, Bataan (Day 2): Five Fingers Tour

T and I availed the Economy Tour, which costs Php 999 and already includes the following: boat ride, tour proper, packed lunch, and snacks. Aside from this good deal, what convinced us to book this tour is their assurance that their group is authorized by LGU Mariveles and Bataan Tourism as well as being featured in travel pages and TV shows. Click here to find their page dedicated for the FIVE FINGERS TOUR.

NOVEMBER 16, 2017

We started our 2nd day in Bataan early because we joined a group tour for Five Fingers. Our Airbnb host offers breakfast for a certain fee and we availed that since we were not sure if there was any food establishment near the meet-up point for the tour.

From our Airbnb, we took a jeep bound for Mariveles since no bus was passing by. Upon arriving at the port, we met with the tour guides from Bataan Weather Page (BWP). They were responsive to our messages, especially when we got lost trying to find the meet-up location.

T and I availed the Economy Tour, which costs Php 999 and already includes the following: boat ride, tour proper, packed lunch, and snacks. Aside from this good deal, what convinced us to book this tour is their assurance that their group is authorized by LGU Mariveles and Bataan Tourism as well as being featured in travel pages and TV shows. Click here to find their page dedicated for the FIVE FINGERS TOUR.

I wasn’t paying attention to the names of each spot we visited but I’ll mention the various activities we did during the tour.

Our first stop was where we would do trekking. The guides told us that it would only be a “pabebe trek” but most of us concluded that it was not. We were lucky that it was a sunny day so we didn’t have to worry about muddy paths or accidentally slipping up while climbing or going down.

Still, despite having a bit of difficulty, the scenery at the top was worth every sweat!

 

After this, we hopped to different areas around Five Fingers where one of the highlights was cliff diving. The first cliff diving spot had a height of 25 feet while the second one was about 40 feet.

Snorkeling was an activity mentioned in their page but we didn’t visit any place to do this. Quite a bummer because T and I brought our own snorkelling gear. 😦 We went to a spot though with lots of sea urchin and rocky places for pictures so that compensated it na?

Our last stop during this tour was a beach with fine sand. We were the only people there so we had the place to ourselves. BWP provided us free lunch so none in the group had to cook anymore, yay! After lunch, we spent another hour swimming in this area… we even found a starfish!

We went home around 3PM and spent the remaining hours in our Airbnb, relaxing and chatting with our hosts. I’ll be sharing more details on our Airbnb hosts and their place in the next post!

PH, Leyte: Kalanggaman Island

The travel from Palompon to KALANGGAMAN ISLAND took about an hour. We left Palompon at 6:30AM and arrived in our destination at around 7:30AM.

We rented a cottage near the sandbar, which was less busier and noisier plus we had a great view while resting and eating.

JUNE 25-27, 2017

Our first local trip together – me and my best friend, K! Our main mission was to visit Kalanggaman Island in Leyte… so we first took a plane going to Tacloban. Then from Tacloban, we rode a van for 4 hours to get to Palompon.

Palompon is a small town and less urban than Tacloban so there are only a few restaurants to choose from as well as small groceries. Initially we booked our accommodation via Airbnb but Diana, the host, told me to directly transact with her instead so that we could get a room instead of the whole house. I think this one is an updated link and it looks very similar to the room we stayed in: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13145062?s=51.

We were welcomed by the host’s mom and we were happy to see that the room had aircon because the weather was hot at that time.

We did nothing during our first day except to eat and buy items to prepare for our island trip the next day…

Spotted working while on vacation!

Next day, we got up early to go to Palompon Eco-Tourism Office and rent a boat.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You need to reserve ahead of time because there is a limit to the number of tourists they allow to visit in a day. In this way, they prevent the island from being abused by a large wave of people. Check out this link for more details: http://kalanggaman-island.com/kalanggaman-rates-and-entrance-fee.html

We rented a boat for us two, which costs Php 3,000.00. Share per person would definitely be cheaper for a large group. There is an option to join another group so that the cost per pax would be lower but the time we want to go back to Palompon is different so we had to rent our own.

The travel from Palompon to KALANGGAMAN ISLAND took about an hour. We left Palompon at 6:30AM and arrived in our destination at around 7:30AM.

We rented a cottage near the sandbar, which was less busier and noisier plus we had a great view while resting and eating.

It was still low tide so we explored first the sandbar while there was still sand to walk on. There is a warning board there not to swim during high tide because of riptides.

After walking around, we went back to the main area where people were swimming.

The place was really beautiful to look at – different shades of blue for the sea and white sand everywhere. The only thing we were disappointed was that we read in a lot of blogs (and even in the office) that snorkeling is a recommended activity. We snorkeled for about an hour but we only saw less than 5 small fish. The rest was just people and floating seaweed. ☹

We went back to our cottage to eat early lunch but decided to go back to the sandbar because the outer edge was already submerged in water.

We didn’t go to the outer edge though because we were scared to get pulled by a riptide. We only walked a few meters then ran back to dry sand. Haha!

Admired these sceneries while eating our lunch…

The morning didn’t end well though because while we were eating chocolates for desserts we saw a lot of people going to the sandbar area to swim even if there was a large board already warning people not to. A few minutes later, I called K’s attention because I thought I spotted someone flailing in the middle of the sea… true enough, it was a middle-aged man who got pulled by the riptide.

Rescue team went to save him immediately… everything happened fast because we couldn’t see the guy anymore and 3-4 rescue persons dived into the sea. They got the guy and tried to revive him for a long time. He was eventually taken to a boat to ride back to Palompon while CPR was being continued.

I heard locals muttering that the tourism would be affected especially if the issue would be in nationwide news… all because of not following warning signs. Some blamed the guy, some blamed the staff in the island for not having a life guard stationed near the sandbar. But bottom line is, can’t we just follow instructions and warnings because these wouldn’t be there if there is no harm or danger that would possibly befall you.

My HS friends and I saw the same thing in Magalawa Island (Zambales) – people were swimming in the sandbar area even if there was a huge sign saying not to because of riptide or strong undercurrents. Thankfully at that time, no one got hurt.

We headed back to Palompon after the incident, 3-4 hours earlier than our intended departure from the island. We just stayed in our lodging and watched Running Man to keep our boredom at bay.

The next day, we left early in the morning so that we can have lunch in Tacloban. Tricycle drivers in the van terminal tried to rip us off by charging us Php 150 going to Ocho Seafood and Grill. The last one I just had to answer back that their rate was way more expensive than a taxi so he explained that he would have to pass by small streets to get us to the place otherwise we would have to walk about 5 minutes from the drop off. We told him it was fine so we were only charged Php 50 for the trip. Whew.

No pictures of our lunch in OCHO SEAFOOD AND GRILL but it was such a joy because we finally got to eat really delicious food + everything we had was fresh seafood. It is like dampa style because you get to choose raw seafood then ask them to cook it the way you want it. Highly recommend the place although it gets full even during weekday lunch time.

Our last stop before going to airport was JOSE KARLOS COFFEE where we had hot tea and desserts while watching another episode of Running Man. We went to the airport by riding a jeepney because there was no other option unless you rented a car to go there.

 

Conclusion after this trip – Cambodia is still the best trip we had together. There were other annoying incidents in this Leyte trip which I choose not to share anymore because it might just be a case of bad luck as others seemed to have enjoyed their time in Leyte.

Kansai, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

After braving the strong wind, we finally saw the famous MEOTO IWA (“Wedded Rocks”). It is said that the larger rock represents the husband while the smaller one is the wife, and this couple is actually a representation of Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japan.

It may not look as majestic as the ones in photos seen online, but they say that the best time to go here is during high tide and sunrise – get to see the sun rising between the two rocks.

Continuation of our Ise-Shima adventure!

After lunch in Ebiya, we went back to the Ujiyamada Station to go to Meoto Iwa. When we arrived at the Futamino-Ura Station, we could really feel the rural life. There was no machine for us to insert our ticket as we headed towards the exit. Instead, there was an old man who checked our ticket. After exiting the station, there was no vehicle even on the main road. It was a good thing there was a local who we could ask for directions going to Meoto Iwa. He only spoke Japanese but his directions using his hands (even including Y gesture to signal the fork road) were very clear.

 

We walked for about 20 minutes before we finally arrived by the seaside. I was expecting to enjoy the scenery but the wind was really strong… strong enough to pull up my hoodie!

We went inside Futamiokitama Shrine, which is generously decorated with frogs of different sizes.

 

Ema with Meoto Iwa design

After braving the strong wind, we finally saw the famous MEOTO IWA (“Wedded Rocks”). It is said that the larger rock represents the husband while the smaller one is the wife, and this couple is actually a representation of Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japan.

It may not look as majestic as the ones in photos seen online, but they say that the best time to go here is during high tide and sunrise – get to see the sun rising between the two rocks. These rocks, connected by Shimenawa rope (Shinto sacred rope), are also considered as a symbol of marriage.

If you are into drainspotting, do not miss the manhole cover in this area which showcases Meoto Iwa.

Drainspotting: sunrise at Meoto Iwa

Only saw this map when we were headed back — shows the route from train station to Meoto Iwa

When we got back in Ujiyamada Station, we had to purchase tickets back to Osaka. We did not purchase this beforehand since we were not sure what time we will finish our adventure in Ise-Shima. We somehow regretted it because ticket price per person was around 2,000 or 3,000+ yen. We also made a mistake of boarding the wrong train (1 minute earlier than ours!!) so we had to pay an extra fee.

The train is called Premium Express Shimakaze. It definitely looked and felt premium than the train we rode in the morning – reclining chair, automated window blinds… We even got a boarding certificate to commemorate our ride.

 

Lesson learned: Japanese trains arrive on the dot unless they announce otherwise. Who would have thought that that train which arrived 1 minute earlier is indeed different from the one we should have boarded. Oh well.

For our last dinner during this trip, we decided to go to HONKE SHIBATO, a restaurant famous for its eel dishes. The restaurant is 300+ years old so their quality is definitely something to be trusted. If you are on a budget, definitely skip this place then. We both got the Osaka Mamushi, which costs ¥2,730 per order. It was my first time to eat eel and their unagi definitely did not disappoint.

Even the cover looks premium!

Close up shot of that delicious unagi!

The staff was really nice and they even offered to take our picture outside the shop. 🙂

Next post is our last day in Japan. T_T

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka

Mount Gulugod-Baboy + Sombrero Island

DIFFICULTY LEVEL (according to TA site): 2/10

Just like the previous hike, I booked this trip via Trail Adventours and was accompanied by Tin. Our main guides this time were Jeric and JP, who were both funny and easy to talk to. We were blessed that we had a good weather that day so we did not worry about muddy trails and getting wet in the middle of the hike.

MAY 21, 2016

DIFFICULTY LEVEL (according to TA site): 2/10

I became lazy again to update my site — it’s always an on-and-off relationship with blogging, or more of documenting travels as I always tell (or correct) my friends since I rarely write here.

So, after exactly 9 months, I have decided to finally write about my 2nd hike last 2016, which happened in Mount Gulugod-Baboy.

Just like the previous hike, I booked this trip via Trail Adventours and was accompanied by Tin. Our main guides this time were Jeric and JP, who were both funny and easy to talk to.

We were blessed that we had a good weather that day so we did not worry about muddy trails and getting wet in the middle of the hike. We had 2 main rest points, wherein we spent about 15 minutes in each point to catch up our breath and eat our trail food. It was also the place where we got to know fellow hikers in the group — plus shared our food (and be on the receiving end too – yay for free snacks!).

We reached the summit in about 2 hours and the view was absolutely stunning! We spent almost an hour there before starting our hike back to the parking lot for lunch time.

 

 

After lunch time, we changed into our swimming attire since TA package included a trip to Sombrero Island (called as such because the island is hat-shaped). We hopped on the rented boat and according to the guides, the island was once a free-for-all place. However, it has been declared as a “private property” hence there are fees to be paid, including renting a cottage. The island was just small but it looked quite difficult to go around the whole island since there were areas which were too rocky.

Swimming in the sea was more than welcome because we were there at past 1PM and the sun was shining bright (so much that it was awfully hot). We had to wear our slippers though while swimming since the bottom was full of small rocks instead of purely sand. Nevertheless, the sea was crystal clear and had different shades of blue.

Hello Sombrero Island!

 

We left Batangas mid-afternoon and while the traffic going back to Manila was quite heavy, the exhilarating hike and swim were more than enough to maintain a really happy mood. Another great hike from TA and we will surely be booking another hike with them soon!