Monday, July 30, 2012

The Quiet Charm of Cagbalete Island


It was the Chinese New Year long weekend. We wanted to have a quick getaway somewhere not too far from Manila. We decided to go to Cagbalete Island. Our original plan was to go there with my bitches (when I say bitches, it means my closest girl friends haha!). But then, that plan did not push through and was canceled. So it became my first getaway for this year (2012).


Day 1

There are only 2 passenger boat trips going there everyday. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. We chose the former for us to have more time in the island. We rode the 3:00 AM bus going to Lucena that early Saturday morning.We arrived in Lucena Grand Terminal at around 6:00AM. Lucena is the capital city of Quezon province. The grand terminal has buses going to different towns of Quezon. Cagbalete is located at the town of  Mauban.

We still had a lot of time, so we ate breakfast in one of the fast food restaurants before riding the bus bound to Mauban. After an hour and a half of winding roads and super cold and damp air (no aircon bus), we were dropped of near the Pantalan which I think is the last stop. It is near their public market. We were overwhelmed by the fresh produce and catch that we saw in the market. Fruits, vegetables and seafood! They are dirt cheap. We shopped even if it started to pour. We ended up with a big bag full of food supplies.



Gat Uban Port


We went to the port right after we bought everything that we're going to need. All we knew was, we'll never get hungry in the island. Haha. We were an hour early so we still have a lot of time to kill. We were one of the first passengers to arrive. While waiting, we sampled the food that local vendors were selling that morning. We had pancit habhab (Lucban) and some kakanin. They were yummy! :)



trying out the local biko, yum!


Many passengers started to arrive just before 10:00 AM. We noticed that Cagbalete is also famous locally. There were a lot of groups from nearby towns heading to the island for a quick vacation as well. When all passengers were aboard we left to sail in the Pacific. The waves were big! I felt a little bit dizzy. In 45 minutes, we were there already. Since the tide in this island is always unbelievably low, we have to be transferred to a smaller boat to get to the shore.



trekking starts now


I forgot Kuya's name. One of the boatman was nice enough to guide us going to our chosen resort, MVT Sto. Niño. It was the farthest among the three resorts there, so we very much appreciated his efforts to take us there. He even carried my backpack for me even though it's not that heavy.



trees, grass, cow... pure nature


I was able to enjoy my hike more because I'm not carrying anything but my camera. I let them walk ahead of me so I can relish the surroundings and take photos without delaying them hehe. I knew we were getting near the beach resort as the trails were getting watery. It means high tide is coming in.



the wet trail


It was a 30-40 minute hike to the resort. I have to agree, this one is the farthest among the resorts there. Boats cannot dock in this part of the island. It won't make any difference. You'd still have to walk a kilometer in the sand if you do. Kuya endorsed us to the resort's caretakers who were equally nice. We were thankful to him and gave him a "tip" for his kindness. Again, helping the locals are one of those things I feel good about when traveling.


We immediately head to the kitchen to prepare our lunch. We skipped setting up our tent, food must come first haha.


paksiw kang bata ka! :)



We set up our camp after eating. We were their first guests for that weekend so the resort was all ours for a day. The other guests arrived Sunday. When our tent was all set, we laid down and we were slowly swept to dreamworld. Yes, we slept for the rest of the day! Maybe because we were too tired from the transit and we hardly had sleep the other night because we left Manila at 3:00 AM. Also, who could resist the cool sea breeze, the rustling leaves and the crashing waves? It sounded lullaby to me. :)


I woke up with the weird sound an insect was making. I was not even sure if it's an insect. It was the first time I heard something like that. It was a little creepy. I woke my partner up to prepare our dinner. It was really dark because there's no electricity there. The resort owner only have generators.


Day 2

The following day, I woke up very early. I want to take a walk and see the entire resort.



a few steps away from our tent


The mangrove population in this part of the island is bountiful. We placed our tents in the middle of the trees and beside a hut, just so we can evacuate immediately if a heavy rain pours (which they say is frequent here).



our camp


It was a bit gloomy but very peaceful morning. The skies were majorly gray. The sun didn't come out in all it's glory. The sea however, was so calm.



hues of blue and gray


It was cold in the morning. I had chills while walking on the shore. Not so far from our camp site was a creek. It fills up when it's high tide, then it drains down when low tide. It was so serene. I only heard birds chirping. The view was whimsical. 



love the shadow reflections in the water


It reminded me of that creek in Anawangin where I also bathe haha. It's cute that all those coconut trees where lined up in almost straight line.



coconut creek?


This was where the creek meets the ocean. The water was so cold and clear. We had fun floating here and letting the tide current carry us in its direction. There are deep parts in this area. I guess it depends on how strong the water flow was.




it was fun here :)


When I reached the end of the shore, I walked back to the resort with some locals. The kids here has bicycles and they use it in sea water! Aren't those going to tarnish?



local kids with their bikes


Back in camp, I woke my partner up again for us to have breakfast. I told him I want to eat near the creek. Of course he obliged haha. He knows how I love being one with nature.



After lunch, we decided to go for a swim. Another set of guests arrived but they opted to stay in a hut at the other side of the resort so we're still alone in our spot.


tranquility


It was low tide and I don't want to walk a kilometer just to swim in the ocean.



are you seeing a glimpse of the ocean?


I don't! So, we just took photos and settled at the estuary. We had fun by the way. :)


this changed my idea of low tide



Day 3

The next morning, we prepared to leave already. We broke the camp and bid goodbye to the couple caretaker who looked after us for 2 days. They were so kind to us. We hurriedly started trekking back to the port. We must be on the 7:00 AM boat. It was high tide that morning, so we got a little wet on our hike back.




river crossing


Since we no longer have a guide that time, we just have to rely on our own memory. I suck at it, good thing my partner is good at remembering things. If not, we'll probably get lost haha.



pretending i remember the trail haha :)


We were successful on our hike! We found Sabang, but when we got there we don't know where to pass going to the port. We're so thankful to the locals because they were pointing us to the right direction without us asking. We probably looked lost haha.


We saw these cute horses on our way back to the port.



wow layered tail haha :)


I actually noticed that the island locals were all warm and friendly. While passing by their houses, they will greet you and point you to the right direction. They will say hi or hello to you. The kids however, were very timid to visitors. When we had merienda in one of the mini-stores there, we gave some kids biscuits and candies. They shyly accepted it.


Cagbalete is the perfect place if you want a quick escape from the maddening city. It is near, very serene and it has kind people. Even though I haven't been able to swim "swim", it didn't matter. I am just up for a total nature trip and a stress-free environment. If you're into a party beach and all the noise it makes, then don't go here. It's not for you. I highly recommend this to people like me who enjoys peaceful moments with nothing but nature.


Beach Rating: ♥♥

I only gave it a two because you have to walk too far before you can swim in the ocean. Otherwise, it's all good.


This is Part 1 of my Cagbalete travel series.