Thursday, June 11, 2015

How Much at Sweet Potatoes (Pila sa Camotes)

Pila is the last name of my SO's family which literally translates to "How much?".
Camotes is an island group located at the east of Cebu. Legend has it that when the Spaniards came to the island and asked the natives of the name of the place, they answered "camotes" (sweet potatoes) thinking that they were asked what they were harvesting.
Group picture at Mangodlong Rock Resort
We got up early last May 23 to catch the first trip from Danao to Camotes. Unfortunately, due to some unfavorable (and I believe, ILLEGAL) acts of some people, we were not able to procure tickets for the first trip - even those people who were already there at 3AM!

Just a tip I want to share if you're planning to go to Camotes, you could actually get a round-trip ticket from North Bus Terminal. I've just learned this information when we already reached there.

It is a two-hour ferry ride from Danao to Camotes.
When we reached Consuelo port, the area is already crowded with a lot of service cabs and motorcycles. It seemed to me that the crowd tripled from the last time I was here - which was three (3) years ago.

There we saw our trusty tour guide who drove us to Masamayor's Beach House and Resort where we had our room reservations.

Masamayor's Beach House and Resort
We had our breakfast and got our lunch packed for our tour.

Our first stop was the Mangodlong Rock Resort.
One thing I really liked about this resort is I don't need to go very far in order to take a good swim even on low tides.

And I believe it was not just me who enjoyed the place. Everyone else happily plunged into the water. And if only there was nowhere else we'd go, I believe everyone would have chosen to stay a little bit longer.

The resort also offers some nice views for a perfect summer shot.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

You may also avail of some of their activities such as jet skiing.

Second stop was at Paraiso Cave and Restaurant. This was not in our itinerary three years ago so this was also my first in the said place.

Among the caves I have visited in Camotes, I find this one the smallest. There aren't much to explore and the spring is only a few steps down from the entrance. The water was very cold and deep for someone who is only 4'11" in height.

Entrance of the cave
Inside of the cave
And although the water seemed crystal clear, I did not spend too much time in it in fear of getting muscle cramps; contrary to my daughter who seemed to be enjoying herself very much even if it was really cold.

Next on the list is the famous Lake Danao Park.

I could still remember the first time I was there, it was just the big lake, the floating cottage and the kayaks. There were no other guests than us.
On my second visit, they improved a bit and started building some tables and cottages.

Now on the third time, a lot has improved. And the population of the guests just went ten times more than the last time I could remember.

There were also more tables and cottages.
We decided to have our lunch there.

Having lunch at Lake Danao Park
There are a lot of activities you could do at Lake Danao Park such as boating, kayaking, horseback riding, etc.

After we had our lunch, our tour guide asked us if we would like to visit the Holy Crystal Cave wherein he mentioned it will be a really challenging one as we might do some crawling and bending over. It seems quite an adventure but since we have an infant with us, we had to skip this one.

And if you're a little curious as to what we've just missed, here's an informative review.

We proceeded to another cave, the Timubo Cave.

It is still the same cave as the last time I was there, but this time with so many people!
That's right, the place was heavily crowded that they're already setting a time limit of 30 minutes for every guest.

Timubo Cave
But the crowd did not stop us from enjoying the cave - especially my daughter who really loves splashing in the water.

We didn't stay too long and went on to our next stop - cliff-diving at Buho Rock Resort.

I was a bit excited because I know how much my SO loves to dive.
But when we reached the place, I couldn't hide my dismay.

The place in itself is still so beautiful and picture perfect.

It's just that I really don't like large crowds.
There were a lot of people standing by the cliff and it would be kind of hard to ask them to move down without us appearing rude and arrogant.

Because it seemed impossible to do what we went there for, we just had to enjoy ourselves swimming on the foot of the cliff, instead... And maybe just take some pictures.

Buho Rock Resort
Foot of the cliff
It was already late in the afternoon when we decided to head back to Santiago where we continued splashing in the water.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

After the sun had set, my SO and I headed to Pito's Sutokil to reserve a table for our dinner.

In my previous visits at Camotes, I have always stayed at Pito's Sutokil and I could vouch that their food tastes great and are very affordable.

We had a fulfilling dinner. My personal favorite that night was the beef steak.
We headed back to our rooms and I dozed off rather early while the rest of the guys had their inuman session.

Early the next day, we had a light breakfast and proceeded immediately to have an early swim... and of course, pictures!

Water baby :D
By 10AM, we got ready to leave so we could reach the port by 11AM as what was advised by our tour guide.

In the past few years, the tour guides were supposed to get the tickets beforehand so it would be convenient for their guests. However, because of some "illegal" acts (as what is also happening at Danao port) of some people, they stopped issuing tickets for the tour guides.

And even if we did got to the port early, the available trips left are the 4PM trip onwards. Fortunately, we brought with us some grub in case we go hungry.

If you aren't patient enough, here's a little tip. I could remember on my first time there, there was a wharf somewhere where there are a few boats from Leyte that would pass by and if they're not fully loaded, they'll dock and get some passengers from Camotes. Not sure if it's still in operation, though. You might want to clarify this one when you go visit. But prolly the best option is to really get a round-trip ticket. I highly recommend it.

We were also accompanied by dolphins on our way to Danao. Yay!
Hi, Finley! :D

So that was our mini summer escapade in Camotes. My conclusion?

Camotes is a really beautiful place. It offers much more than just its picturesque resorts.
There are also a lot of other activities you could do such as kayaking, boating and diving.

The con's of this whole trip would be the overly populated spots (because A LOT of people are also having their tours), and the hassle of getting tickets from Danao to Camotes and vice versa.

And if you're like me who hates a large crowd, there are still some secluded areas in the island such as the bakhaw beach which is not yet too commercialized.

Breakdown of Expenses (9 adult; 1 infant)

Tour 2500
- Family Room (4 pax) 2800
- Deluxe Room (2 pax) 1800
- Additional 300/head
Danao to Camotes
- Adult 180/head
- Student (need ID) 150/head
Breakfast & Lunch 1500 *
Mangodlong Rock Resort 20/head
Paraiso Cave 25/head
Lake Danao Park 25/head
Table and Buko 300 *
Timubo Cave 20/head
Buho Rock Resort 25/head
Dinner 1500 *
Lunch 1000 *
Camotes to Danao
- Adult 180/head
- Student (need ID) 150/head
* estimates

Contact Numbers

Masamayor's Beach House and Resort
0917 631 8818

Mr. Apollo (Tour and Cab services)
0918 611 3728

Some spots that you may visit or include in your itinerary:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend at Hidden Valley

May is going to be a very busy month for our mother and her only vacant schedule is on May 9 and 10.

We were thinking of going to Camotes or Moalboal, but because the place I know of is fully booked and we don't have contacts with other resorts, we decided to go to Hidden Valley in Pinamungajan, instead.

We took the route via Brgy. Bunga in Naga which is only 7km away from Hidden Valley.

The road was not developed. There were also a lot of local residents who would ask us to pay if we pass through their property.

Upon arriving at approximately 11am, there were already a lot of people in the resort.

There are two resorts, the Mountain Resort and the Wavepool Resort.

Entrance fee to access both of the resorts is Php150/head.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

We proceeded to the information area of the Mountain Resort to get us a room, which was a problem because the receptionist said all rooms were already booked.

I was already getting edgy and I wanted us to go look for another place.

My first impression was like "Oh my. This place is so unorganized, like pools just kind of sprout out of nowhere."

Okay, I got a biased opinion over there because I was really getting all irritable of the heat, of the crowd, of not getting a room, and gawd!

We thought of going to another location but oh, entrance fee is non-refundable.

Fortunately, my mother met a co-worker, Sir Joel, who helped us get a room. He was familiar with the place as this was where he grew up.

The room (or house) we got has a sala, a kitchen, two bedrooms, a CR and appliances such as a TV and a computer (both not working) which costs Php3.5k.

After eating lunch, we got ourselves ready for the wave pool!

When we reached the pool, there were no waves yet.
A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

A photo posted by Andik Alao ♡ Quinn Adriel (@andiksayo) on

The children excitedly plunged into the water.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

Well, not only the kids. :p

The pool was pretty crowded.

See those people over there? And that's not all of them.

Even got to see one of my college friends. :D

Suddenly, a loud sound like a ship's horn was heard. That was the signal that they will be turning on the waves.

People were yelling with excitement, but our kids got scared because they don't know what the commotion was all about.

The first few waves were small until they become bigger and "fiercer".

I recommend you bring a floater if you want to experience the waves, it'd be a lot more fun!

You can see my mother enjoying the waves xD
Hi, ma!
We rested for a while as the kids were getting tired.

The resort has a stall which sells coffee.

We ordered some frappes - Double Choco and Amazing Mocha.

There was no network signal and the wifi connection is very weak, so it's a perfect time to get that mobile phone off our hands and spend time with the family.

We plunged back to the pool to enjoy more of the waves until Akee got drowsy.

For dinner, we bought barbecue and hanging rice. There are a lot of local stores and stalls so looking for food won't be a big problem.

I didn't know of the time because I wasn't on my phone so I ended up going to bed early, while some of the guys had their drinking session.

We woke up early the next day where I found my mom preparing breakfast. She bought lechon baboy from one of the local stores.

After breakfast, we roamed around some more.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

A photo posted by Wandering Kiddo (@wanderingkiddo) on

And got ourselves ready to enjoy the pool once more xD

We also hiked up to the mountain resort where they had a playground and more pools.

We also greeted each other a happy mom's day :D

Photo by andiksayo
More pictures! :D

We packed our stuffs and got ready to leave at 9am.

This time, we took the route via Pinamungajan proper - which was a longer ride. It was already 12 noon when we reached Uling Naga where we had our lunch.

It was a indeed a weekend well spent.

Hidden Valley Mountain Resort and Wavepool Resort is located at Brgy. Lamac, Pinamungajan, Cebu.

(Source: Mapbox via Foursquare)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Coffee Madness

May 16 - I wanted to go to some place I've been so curious about - Coffee Madness.

I have only heard of it from my brother who suggested we held my daughter's birthday on the said place. I tried contacting and they said there is an available space. However, they cannot make the place exclusive.

Since then, I've been wanting to visit the area - even followed them on Instagram. My SO is not much of a fan and is not as curious as I am so I thought my chance of going there is slim.

A photo posted by iamcoffeemadness (@iamcoffeemadness) on

Fortunately enough, I've got a friend (Darling) - a close friend of SO - who is also into exploring secluded places, so SO got persuaded to come, too. :p

None of us had been there so we had to rely on Google Maps and Waze.

Here are some routes from Pacific Mall to Coffee Madness
(Source: Google Maps)


We finally reached COFFEE MADNESS! :D

Photo taken by Darling

Contrary to its name, you won't actually get mad. XD

The ambiance is very calming and the place is not too commercialized.

It's perfect if you want to get away from the busy city life or if you're simply looking for some "me" time.

The frappes and coffee are very affordable.

Sorry if you find it hard to read the menu.
Here's a link to their FB Page.

I ordered Maddy Choco Tiramisu frappe for myself and Maddy Cookie & Creamy for my SO. Each costs Php100 only!

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

And here's what Darling ordered.

A photo posted by Darling Butchokoy (@janielmcphee) on

They also offer pizza and pasta.

I kind of regretted why we did not order pizza after reading reviews from foursquare and comments from friends that their pizza tastes great. Gawd, I should have!

We only had fries which only costs Php35.

They also have a pool if you want to take a dip. (Php150/head)

The place is perfect if you're looking for some peace of mind.

Even my daughter loved the place!

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

Photo taken by Darling

More pictures!

Darling, Vince (SO), Aya with Akee, Alvin (left to right)

Alvin, Darling, Akee and yours truly (left to right)

Thank you Darling and Alvin for coming with us! :D

Coffee Madness is located at Tayud Liloan.

Business hours:
Tuesday to Thursday at 3:00pm - 09:00pm
Friday to Sunday at 3:00pm - 11:00pm

Closed on Mondays

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Day at Danasan Eco Adventure Park

I know this entry's really late, but I just can't seem to organize my thoughts as to how to start this. So please bear with me :p I will be writing a personal journal so expect lots of sidenotes!

We were given choices as to where we would like to have our team's first quarter activity. With options such as the beach, island hopping, overnights and all, Danasan won the majority's vote.

Let's just say that I'm one of those guys who opted to have the team building held at a beach rather than on some place where I-am-sure-everyone-would-go-on -separate-ways.
I was a bit skeptical about this outing, but I was also looking forward to what this would bring me.

We availed of one of the packages offered by Danasan Eco Adventure Park which includes two (2) adventure passes, one (1) free meal and shuttle service.

April 25 - I arrived at the assembly area by six in the morning. I skipped breakfast, thinking I could just order something via drive-thru.

Unfortunately, the van does not allow you to bring raw or cooked food inside. If you're so stubborn, you'll be charged with an additional fee. :P

Moving on, we departed at 7:30am. I planned to take a quick nap on the way but I was just so marveled at the sights that I stayed awake.

I easily get awed by anything natural.

I took a few photos but my phone camera cannot justify the beauty there is, so I stopped and just took my time looking at such scenery.

It is a long ride from Danao proper to Danasan so you might need to bring with you a lot of patience. And maybe just take some time appreciating the views God has allowed you to see.

And if ever you start worrying since it is taking an awful long time, there are road signs assuring you that you're not lost; you're not just there yet. (:

First glimpse of the park

We (first batch) finally reached the famous adventure park at 9:30am. While waiting for the rest to arrive, I took another batch of photos - which most of them just got deleted :P

A photo posted by Wandering Kiddo (@wanderingkiddo) on

Got no network signal but they've got strong wifi connection.

I also took this chance to eat breakfast.

I'm a big fan of chicken curry so I ordered COMBO # 1.
Unfortunately, the taste isn't to my liking.

A little amount of caffeine to stay awake ;p
The rest of the guys arrived 30 minutes later. We then proceeded to the information area where we decide what activities to take and what meal to eat for lunch.

I chose the Skydrop and Wakeboarding for my free adventure passes. For lunch, I chose combo # 3 (Grilled Pork Belly) with an additional order of Native Chicken Soup.

By 11am, we proceeded with our team building activities. We were allowed to have our games near the pool area.

Group shot (from Dea's cam; Go check her blog :D)

Because of time constraints, we only had two (2) team building activities - Face Paint where the group would paint their respective banners using the face, and Fact You where we get points every time we answer a question, or when we drink a spoonful of vinegar if we choose not to answer.

Yellow Team (from Dea's cam)

Pink Team (from Dea's cam)

GREEN TEAM (from Dea's cam)

After the team building activities, we walked up to the resto area again to have our lunch.

Since I was a little disappointed with breakfast, I did not expect much for my lunch.
But the impression was totally different.
I loved the native chicken soup! ♥
I guess that's why it was considered their best seller. It is a must-try!

After we had our lunch, we then go on our own ways.

Every activity is located at different areas so we need to ride their service truck to get there.

Here's a map of the adventure park

My first activity was the Skydrop.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

I'm really bad at measurements so I can't accurately tell how many meters high we were dropped off from. (comparison: 7th floor in UC Banilad, maybe? XD)

I may be scared of falling but I was so excited to try this one out.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

I can't exactly describe how it feels when we were just dropped off like that so here's a YouTube video.

And here's another candid shot. :P

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

After my first activity, I was ready to try wakeboarding! But because of some persuasion of a couple teammates, I ended up also wanting to try their Trekking and Waterfalls Exploring activity. I was not forced, btw.

We rode back to the information area where we asked for advice from the staff as to what better option we should take. He said we could still make it in time if we go to the waterfalls first then come back and do the wakeboarding. It's already 3PM, by the way.

I then bought an additional adventure pass so that I could go directly to the wakeboarding activity after we will be done with the waterfalls trekking.

To get to the waterfalls, we need to ride on one of these.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

The 20-minute ride to the waterfalls is one heck of an adventure itself.

A video posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

(Click here for another video)

The road gets more challenging on the way so we failed to take more pictures.

Upon reaching the destination point, we hiked our way to the falls.
It is said that there are three (3) levels of the waterfalls.

I was not able to take a photo of the first level, but here's level 2.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

We took a dip in this level.

I know I keep on saying I love swimming and all. But I've always had this fear of not knowing what's in the water.

The water ain't exactly crystal clear so whenever I feel my legs touch something, I can't help but get so frantic about it. (Who knows, maybe it's a snake or something)
Luckily, those aren't snakes but just leaves.

We then requested our guide to take us to the third level. It's a bit far but if you're into long hikes, then it won't be a problem.

And tadaaan! Here it is.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

And here's another video of the guys plunging into the water.

I asked the guide if there were instances where people got into accidents in the area. He mentioned there was one when a guest jumped off from the head of the falls. So yea, if you're planning to do that, you need to be careful.

I also asked of the supernatural and he just smiled with a little im-not-so-sure gesture. Another reason to be extra careful.

At 4pm, we hiked back up so we could still make it to the wakeboarding activity.
When we arrived, the truck we previously rode on was already full so we need to wait for another service.

So, pictures!

military truck arrived ten (10) minutes later to take us back to the adventure park proper.

It was already 5PM when we reached the wakeboarding area where we find our friends who were still waiting for their turns.

from Dea's cam

And another batch of our friends who used their adventure pass for ATV Trailing.

There they are!
(from Dea's cam)

I've never tried wakeboarding before so this will be another first for me. I have gone skimboarding but I guess this will be a very different experience. :)

So here's another group shot where I am getting pretty excited and a little impatient. xD

(from Dea's cam)

There were two lakes - the Beginner's Lake and the Advance Lake, where we chose the former.

We weren't expert wakeboarders so we have a lot of flops, but everyone looked so amazing on the board.

A photo posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

Here's a slideshow of me wakeboarding.

A video posted by J Cyrel | Aya Byuu (@ayisharu) on

And a photo of me falling off the board.

Told ya we're no expert xD
(from Dea's cam)

You could check here for another post by one of our teammates.

By 6pm, we started packing up our things and got ourselves ready for departure.

Photo taken before going home.
And oh, that photobomber over there? That's Wandering Feet. :D
Do check his blog out!

The road going back to Danao proper was pretty dark that I'd get to enjoy the light of the stars.
And I still haven't gotten any sleep.

And what did I get from this?
Muscle pains and dark skin!

But then, the experience was very fulfilling.
Plus, I got the chance to know and get closer with the rest of the team.

Danasan might not be my choice during the votation but I've definitely got no regrets in coming to this place.
Just awesome!

God bless!

Map from Oakridge Business Park to Danasan Eco Adventure Park
(Source: Google Map)

Rough draft I've been working on the whole trip