Enthralled by El Nido

I found my paradise in the Philippines.

Spellbounding Siquijor

A brave girl's first ever solo trip was to this mystical island.

The Quiet Charm of Cagbalete Island

Outdoor serenity at its best.

The Rugged Beauty of Islas de Gigantes

The off-the-beaten rockin beauty of Northern Iloilo.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Burot Beach Summer Escapade


Summer has started and I haven't been anywhere since we visited Batanes last February. Beau and I thought of nearby beaches to go to for a quick dip. Batangas of course is always on the list. I've had enough of San Juan (Laiya) so we tried to go a little further. We've been hearing about Burot Beach quite often recently, so we decided to see it for ourselves.


Day 1

We received last minute confirmation from our friends Richard and Kat, that they will be joining us. Wee! We won't be on ourselves. Straight from my work shift the night before, I hurried up to meet them. We all met at Mc Donalds in Edsa-Taft, just a few steps from the bus station.


Burot Beach



There was no more Calatagan-bound bus when we arrived so we just took the one going to Lian. It took us 45 minutes to reach Calatagan Market (palengke) from Lian. There were 2 palengkes, old and new. But you can find a tricycle to bring you to Burot from both markets for the same rate. It is a popular beach destination even for the locals.


dusty road to the beach

We had lunch and bought our water and food supplies before heading to Burot. The road going to the beach is rough and dusty. It reminded me of the road going to Magalawa.


jam-packed!

It was already around 1:00 PM when we made it to the beach. Since it is summer vacation and a weekend, I already expected it to be very crowded. Most of the best camping spots were already occupied. Good thing we still found a spot under a tree. After setting up our tents, we decided to rest. The sun was still too hot for us to go swimming.


beach view from the sea


I don't know how we fell asleep with that heat. We all went for a swim came 4 o'clock. Some parts of the beach have sea grasses which makes it not good for swimming. But if you'll go to the farthest right side, you'll find the perfect spot to swim. No seaweeds, just fine sand. That was where we spent most of our time at the sea.


Kat-Chard-Moi-Beau

It was a total bonding moment for us since the last time we traveled with this couple friend of ours was way back in Holy Week 2012 in Calaguas. We had fun fooling around and taking silly pictures of each other while waiting for the sunset.


what a pleasant surprise


I never expected that this part of Batangas has a spectacular sunset. Look at that.


loving this sunset


Enjoying too much, we've forgotten how crowded the beach was. It resulted to us queuing for almost an hour just to take a bath and the gory details I won't tell anymore.

We went stargazing later that night but I guess I was too tired and sleep deprived that I fell asleep after a few minutes of lying down in the sand. We just went back to the tent and called it a night.


Day 2

The next morning, we were up early to buy some freshly caught fish for lunch. Our driver told us that the local fishermen usually come back from the sea at around 6:00 AM. On our way to the fishermen's port, we were greeted by this beautiful view of the serene river.


such a beautiful sight


What a lovely morning walk. And we found what we were looking for! We bought a big fish weighing 1 kilo. Good enough for the four of us.


fresh catch


Even without a cooking set like real campers have, we were able to cook our food. Just a few big rocks, some dried leaves and old newspaper and we got our charcoal flaming. We cooked our rice and grilled our fish simultaneously. Ha!


our makeshift super stove haha ;)

We bought lomi for our soup, then we had some salted egg with onion and tomato for our side dish and soy sauce with calamansi and chili as the dip for our grilled fish. Yum! For the dessert, we bought ice drops monggo and buko salad flavors from the Manong vendor at the beach hehe. Solb!


and here's our dining area :)

Our friends had to go back to Manila first. They have work come Monday morning. So they left ahead of us, just a few hours after lunch that day.


up for some early morning swim?


It was another clear sunny day at the beach but we don't want to risk getting sunburned so bad. Beau had his siesta while I resorted to reading a book. I finished reading The Fault In Our Stars. Naiyak sa beach ang lola nyo haha! :)




I suggested to go swimming much earlier than the previous day because I don't want to have the same bathroom experience. Things went as planned. I was done bathing before sunset. 


it has been another day

We took a long walk by the beach during the sunset and I wasn't disappointed. Another beautiful sunset graced the skies that afternoon.


the sunset lover me

Dinner was cooked and eaten in the dark once again. But I loved our second day the better. Most campers had left already. It was more peaceful, no more drunk people shouting or whatsoever, shorter queue in comfort rooms,  less garbage and no more tents blocking the sea view. I slept sounder that night.


How we made it to Burot Beach:
  1. San Agustin Lines Bus from Pasay Rotonda bound to Lian, Batangas. (If you are from the South or you want a direct trip to Calatagan, head to the Southwest Provincial Terminal located at the back of Coastal Mall)
  2. Alighted in Lian, went to palengke where the jeep to Calatagan is.
  3. Told the driver to drop us off in the new palengke where our contact tricycle driver was waiting for us. That was it! :)
  4. Going back to Manila, we went back to Lian because only Cely Rosa ordinary buses go directly to Manila from Calatagan. From Lian highway, there are already numerous aircon buses bound for Manila that passes by.
Transpo and Resort Expenses:

Php 152.00 - Pasay to Lian Bus
         40.00 - Jeep to Calatagan
         50.00 - Tric to Burot Beach
       130.00 - Resort Entrance Fee
         20.00 - Tent Pitching Fee (if you will be renting a tent, plus 300 or 400)
         50.00 - Tric from Burot Beach to Simbahan
         40.00 - Jeep to Lian
       152.00 - Lian to Pasay Bus

Food budget varies depending on the campers, of course. In our case, we brought our own rice, some canned goods and just bought a few snacks and bread from the local market. I think I only spent just Php 800.00 for this 3D2N beach camping trip. ;)


What I Liked About It:
  • The beach is nice. Fine white sand in Batangas!
  • The lovely sunset
  • Its location. It is only a few hours away from Manila.
  • Its accessibility. Whether you have your own car or just commuting, it is easily accessible.
  • Budget-friendly. You don't have to spend too much to enjoy this beautiful beach.
What I Didn't Like About It:
  • The bathroom and the comfort rooms. And hindi ako maarte nor maselan. But I'm giving them benefit of the doubt. Baka pag hindi ganun karami ang tao, mas okay siguro ang CR situation.
  • They allow vehicle parking at a very close proximity to the beach. Yung iba, sa may beach na mismo. I hate it not only because it's an eyesore but most campers who did that left a lot of rubbish at the beach. Please make it a habit to clean as you go! Wag nyo pong i-expect na sa murang halaga ng Entrance Fee na ibinayad nyo, e trabaho na ng mga caretakers na linisin lahat ng ikinalat nyo. Let us all help in maintaining the beauty and cleanliness of Burot Beach.
  • There are not enough garbage containers in the area. Well, campers should really bring or have their own garbage bags. But for those people who don't really care about the environment, I think had there been more garbage bin visibility in the area, it would somehow made them think to put their trashes there.
These are just my personal opinion. Don't get me wrong, I loved the place. The beach was great. You just probably better go here during off-season to avoid experiencing these things. I would say, give it chance! It's worth it! Oh and please, dispose your rubbish properly! Let's keep it clean! :)


"I'm not an environmentalist. I'm an Earth warrior." ~Darryl Cherney, quoted in Smithsonian, April 1990

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Day Well-Spent in Elephant Nature Park



Aside from witnessing the Yi Peng lantern festival, this was the other activity I want to accomplish during my Chiang Mai visit. I want to spend some time with the elephants. Though I've been traveling around Asia for quite some time now, I've never checked out an elephant place yet nor ridden one. It's not that I find it too touristic to do, but more of I don't support that kind of activity. I am an animal rights activist, sort of.

The Elephant Nature Park

We were picked-up from our guest house at 8:00 AM. The park is about an hour and a half from the center of Chiang Mai, 60 kms north to be exact. On our way, our guide gave us an introduction about the park and how it all started. We also watched a documentary about some of the elephants they rescued. I was so trying hard not to cry. But my heart was really broken into pieces seeing how they were mistreated by humans. Sigh.


tons of bananas


When we arrived, the first thing we did was feeding. They showed us their stock room filled with all the food they give to the elephants. There were bananas, squashes and watermelons.


and squashes


Then we were lead to the feeding area. First thing you have to do is wash your hands. They have sinks dedicated for hand washing. This is to make sure that your hands were clean and chemical free before handing the food to the elephants. There were 2-4 persons in each food baskets and we took turns on feeding them. They were so cute when they're hungry. ;)


chomp chomp chomp


After the first feeding session, we were toured to the the other parts of the park.We were also introduced to every elephant we saw. Each of them has a unique story.

Have you seen an elephant tooth? We did! And I couldn't believe it is this huge!


elephant tooth!

They also have a veterinarian who takes care of the elephants especially those with special conditions or needing medical attention. I was able to feed this blind elephant in their Medicine Room. A lot of them that ended up in this sanctuary were blind. Most of them were those rescued from illegal logging activities.




According to the guide believe it or not, their former owners intentionally did that to them. When the elephants disobey them, they would shoot them in the eye because when they go blind, they believe that they have no choice but to follow their lead. Yeah, it was that sad. :(


mud bath to cool themselves off :)

taking advantage of the scratching post

Here at the park, it was nice seeing them free, well taken care of and happy. They deserve all these after getting abused and tortured. Nobody deserves being treated that bad, not even animals.


Lek (on left), the founder of ENP

Lek Chailert started her efforts back in 1996 but it was only in 2003 that the Elephant Nature Park (ENP) at this location has opened. Her work emphasizes on rescue and conservation. She is known for rescuing distressed elephants all throughout Thailand. Her exceptional efforts have already been recognized worldwide.


This park is located in a valley surrounded by mountains and a river. It is a perfect place for these animals for them to heal and to live freely.


they get to choose their own family

Since they were all rescued from different places, when they get here at the park, they technically don't have a family. There was actually this one old elephant there which according to guide don't have friends (family). He's mostly by himself. He is moody and can't seem to make friends with the others. He probably had a painful past.


the river, you know what that means?


You guessed it right! The next activity that we had was the bathing of elephants!



so excited :)


The mahouts took the group of elephants we're going to bathe to the river. Each of us were given a little bucket to use. We really enjoyed splashing water to their big bodies until they were clean enough.


they loved it!

The guide hurriedly asked us to go pose for a photo with this 2 elephants facing each other. He said it looks like the one in the Chang Beer logo haha.


us with these beautiful creatures

The elephants seemed to be very happy after being fed and bathed. Can you see their smiling faces or is it only me who sees that?

happy elephants

After some playtime, it was time for them to eat again. We fed them with just fresh fruits this time. I can get used to these activities in the park.



snack time eh?

They do not house only elephants. They also have a shelter for dogs which were rescued during the 2011 flooding. So don't be surprised if you see a lot of them roaming around the park. They put on a special collar on the aggressive dogs so that you will know which are okay to pet and which are not.


Beau with one of the rescued dogs


This is a whole-day activity so it was tiring. But for me, it was all worth it. I didn't mind being under the sun, walking in the mud or handing food to their mouth. I was just happy that I was able to help taking care of them even just for a day.


my favorite picture at the park :)

I know not everyone thinks like me. Some people would prefer to go riding them or watch them perform tricks in the streets or in circus. I have nothing against you if you are one of those people. I  just like to suggest this activity to everyone and see the good of this cause. I hope you'll also realize the pain these animals have go through before learning those tricks you enjoy to watch or before they get used to having humans riding them for entertainment.

Please pay these rescued elephants a visit if you happen to go to Chiang Mai on your next trip. You may check www.elephantnaturepark.org to see what you can do to help. Thank you so much! :)


"The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality." ~Schopenhauer



This is Part 5 of my Chiang Mai travel series.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Out and Play at the Sandbox Alviera


If you think that summer is only synonymous to the word beach, you are so wrong! Why not add outdoor adventure to your summer vocabulary? You can also have fun under the sun sans the water. And yes, you can do super cool things without having to wear your bikini. ;)


Welcome to the Sandbox!

Last Saturday, April 12th, the Sandbox has officially opened to the public. I was originally invited for its Media Launch a week prior but I had another commitment. I was lucky enough to be offered to attend the Public Launch instead on the following weekend. Awesome!


summer beats

Sandbox is located in Porac, Pampanga, just an hour and a half away from Metro Manila. It is in a new township development called the Alviera which is being built by Ayala Land Inc. in partnership with Leonio Land. It is very easy to find as it is accessible from both NLEX and SCTEX via Porac Exit.

are you ready to play?

Still sleepless from the previous night's work shift, I found myself very excited to try all it has to offer.


Giant Swing

The first thing we tried was the Giant Swing. It is the tallest swing in the Philippines at almost 39 feet (10 meters)! There are 2 swings available. There's a solo swing for the brave ones and there's a double-seater for those who are afraid to go on their own.




I never questioned myself if I can do it. I just know that I should. When I was already at the highest point before the drop, I just told myself "holy s***!". And then the screaming started haha. That was fun!


up, up and away!


Aerial Walk

This is the most challenging and time-consuming among all the activities. It is an obstacle course mainly consisted of high-rope challenges.




You can enjoy this adventure as long as you're height is 4 feet and up. Beau's 12-year old cousin loved it too!


ready to take the challenge?

It will surely test your strength, agility, balance and flexibility. Fit persons can probably finish this course in 30 minutes. As for me, maybe not. Maybe 60. Or more.

get over your fear of heights!

Adventure Tower

Four activities can be enjoyed in this 15-meter high tower.




Free-Fall

This is a good introductory activity for bungee-jumping in my opinion haha. 


hanging like a puppet
Wall Climbing and Rappeling

Test your agility once more by climbing and rappeling.



Avatar One Roller Coaster Zipline

Another unique attraction at the Sandbox is this zipline. It is 180 meters long and 12 meters from the ground.

here we go

 It is the first ever roller coaster zipline in the country. You will literally be zipping up and down like in a roller coaster which is more thrilling than the regular straight ziplines.




Pump Track

There's also a special track here for cyclists. The pump track is 5,000 sqm of fun and enjoyment for those who love to bike.


It is open for all types of bikes and skill levels. You can just simply be playing around, training or just testing your biking skills. Yes, you can bring your bikes.

wouldn't you love to try that?





ATV Rides

You can also go and enjoy the surrounding sights by riding an ATV. This is not usually included in the packages offered. You can hire one for Php 2,500 per hour.



Kite-Flying

If you've already tried all those activities I mentioned above, try kite-flying! It was fun too!

Kite Flying 101


But I've got to tell you that this ain't easy. Especially with that big kite I was holding. If the wind is too strong, it'll be too hard to pull it and if you're not strong enough, you may fly together with it haha. I'm not kidding.


having summer fun yet? :)

We really had such a great time at the Sandbox! If I had a lot more time (and energy), I would have tried everything. Your whole family and friends will surely enjoy their outdoor recreational activities.

Visit it soon! Have blast and feel that crazy adrenaline pumping through your veins. ;)


Sandbox is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9AM to 5PM.

For information about packages, prices and directions please visit their website www.alviera.ph or their Facebook page www.facebook.com/AlvieraPH.