Memorable Trips of 2014

Memorable Trips of 2014
Download PDF

“Back to reality na naman bukas,” said someone after our tour.

“Ito po ang reality namin,” I replied.
That was the same statement that I used to say years ago. Travel is like a dream and facing the daily grind is the reality. Before, traveling meant escaping the stressful work to find happiness. But then I realized, life is short to be lived in misery. So I took that leap to the risky yet exciting world of business.  I live and breathe travel. It has been my life ever since I left the corporate world.

IMG_6281

God has blessed me this 2014. It has been a very good year to me both in the professional and personal aspects. Thank you Lord for the blessings of traveling with my family, my love, and my clients who later became friends. Despite the terrible aviation disasters, I’m fortunate that I haven’t encountered any untoward incidents during my trips this year. Thank you Lord once again.

On the professional side, I’m grateful to my corporate and individual clients who continue to trust Explore8 Travel with their trips. It has always been our mission to travel beyond the usual that would bring priceless memories beneficial to both the guests and the communities that we visit.

The highlight of my 2014 travel year was our European trip with my grandmother and aunt who are first time travelers at the age of 81 and 72. We visited Paris, Lourdes, Amsterdam, Keukenhof, Volendam, Milan, Florence, and Rome. They proved that travel is not only for the young. It’s not yet too late to travel. Taking the first step is the key in moving forward.

Here’s a throwback of my memorable trips this 2014 (6 international destinations covering 18,831 miles and 12 local destinations):

This is Tripadora signing off… Goodbye 2014 and Thank you!

Hello Awesome 2015!

Foodtrip 101: Surigao City’s places to eat

Foodtrip 101: Surigao City’s places to eat
Download PDF

A happy tummy means an unforgettable trip. Food makes or breaks a trip. Yes, for us, it does affect our trip.

In Surigao City, we had a great time eating at the places that have been recommended by Pinoy Travel Bloggers,  Ms. Nathalie Penados of the Chronicles of My Wandering Soles and Mr. Ricky Amores (who are locals of Surigao City).

Let me share to you our food trip in Surigao City.

1. LUNCH at Day-Asan Floating Village

I asked our boatman, Kuya Roel to prepare lunch for our trip to Day-Asan Floating Village. His wife cooked the food before we left the small port near the community.

When lunch time came, we can’t wait but fill our tummies. Our sumptuous lunch composed of adobong saang (spider shell in soysauce mixed with vinegar), halabos na hipon (sauteed shrimp), saging na saba (boiled banana), boiled camote, platter of rice and ice-cold softdrink were served at a native nipa hut on stilts overlooking the clean and serene waters surrounded by mangroves.

Wow! The serving was generous that we invited Kuya Roel, his assistant and the assistant’s wife to eat with us.

The adobong saang, a local shellfish dish, was a pleasant surprise. It was delicious! To eat, one has to suck the meat out or pull the meat and take out the black thorny part before chewing.

COST: Php 500 or $ 12.00 (for 2 persons. budget for lunch only. Boat ride is a separate cost. We paid him a total of Php 2,000 for a trip to Day-Asan, San Pedro and Cantiasay Bridge including the lunch. It should be around Php 1,500 only but because Kuya Roel was a good tour guide and we were satisfied, we gave him a tip. He even gave us some sweet candies (pasalubong made by his wife) to take home. )

 

2. Dodong’s Eatery

Location: Along Surigao City’s Boulevard

The facade of the place is not inviting. It doesn’t look appealing. Nonethelesss, we tried it since it was recommended by Sir Ricky Amores, a local of Surigao City.

Dodong’s Eatery has an airconditioned restaurant and an outdoor dining. J chose the airconditioned venue where we saw people eating as well. Dodong’s Eatery specializes in STK or Sinugba (grilled), Tula (boiled), Kilaw (marinated in vinegar). Diners can choose how they want their food to be cooked among these techniques.

We’re clueless about their specialty so we asked the waitress. She said “sinuglaw” and so we ordered sinuglaw and calamari.

Sinuglaw, a mixed of grilled pork belly and fish ceviche with calamansi and chili, is cooked in kilaw style. It was heaven when eaten with steamed rice.

COST: Php 435.00 or $9.50 (for 2 persons including drinks, rice) It’s not a cheap place to eat but we were satisfied with what we paid.

 

3. Calda’s Pizza 

Location: Along Surigao City’s boulevard

Calda’s is just a few steps away from Dodong’s Eatery. We ordered mix flavors of pizza. It’s a good alternative to your usual pizza places.

Cost: Around Php 450.00 or $10.00

 

4. Ocean Bounties Seafood Market & Restaurant

Location: 888 Diez St. ( near the public market)

Ocean Bounties has an underwater theme decorated with bamboo.  The ambiance depicts a native style. It was where we ate our first dinner in Surigao City. We would have ordered scallops but it was not available so we ordered a sizzling seafood platter.

It’s a paluto style which means you can choose among the daily catch and have them cooked the way you like it. Fresh crabs and lobsters are available. They also have ala-carte menu which you can readily order.

Price Range: Php 200-Php 500 ($5-15) per order depending on the weight of the fish or seafood

 

5. Same Place 

Location: National Highway, Brgy. Luna, Surigao City (Across Gaisano Mall)

We ate at Same Place for lunch as it was five minutes walk from Le Chard Place Bed and Breakfast, where we stayed during our Surigao City trip.

Same Place has nipa style huts where guests can eat. Grilled food was their specialty especially grilled chicken. Thus, we ordered grilled chicken and sizzling sisig. Healthy food, isn’t it? hahaha.

Same Place in Surigao City is budget-friendly. It’s the cheapest place that we dined in. The taste was good enough.

COST: Php 254.00 ($6.00) for two persons

Do you have similar food finds in Surigao City? Share it here!

Family accommodation in Singapore

Family accommodation in Singapore
Download PDF

Most hotel rooms in Singapore are only good for two. Only few hotels can accommodate four or more. Fortunately, we found a family accommodation in Strand Hotel Singapore during our April 2014 trip. It can accommodate six people.

LOCATION

Strand Hotel is strategically located at 25 Bencoolen Street. Location is strategic as the Hawker Food Center is just three minutes away on foot.

ROOM

Here’s the family room. The room has one single bed, one roll-away bed, and two queen beds. We were charged 380 SGD per room per night as six people occupied the room. It’s Php 12,849.52 per room per night in Philippine currency. If you divide that by 6 pax, it would cost Php 2,141.58 per head. The rate comes with free breakfast and inclusive of government taxes.

Pardon the reaction of my brother. He had a hangover.

Breakfast is buffet but the selection is so-so. Good thing, there’s a hawker center nearby.

PWD Accessibility

The entrance of the Strand Hotel has no ramp for wheelchairs so one has to take around five steps before getting to the lobby.

Amenities and Facilities

Toiletries and towels are provided. The hotel does not have a swimming pool but for the price, I guessed it’s understandable.

NEAREST ATTRACTIONS: 

The reason why we chose Strand Hotel is because of the Catholic churches that are in close proximity. My grandmother wanted to visit churches.

  • Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
  • St. Peter and Paul Church
  • St. Joseph’s Church

Singapore Art Museum is also within walking distance. It’s about 10 minutes leisurely walk from Strand Hotel.

TRANSPORTATION: The Strand Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from the Dhoby Gaut MRT Station and walking distance to the Bras Basah MRT, which can be helpful in going around Singapore.

VERDICT:

It was clean and comfortable enough for us. Though the rate might not be cheap, it’s affordable for the location and accessibility. I’d definitely recommend Strand Hotel Singapore to families who want to stay together in one room.

Conquering fear at Aglipay Caves

Conquering fear at Aglipay Caves
Download PDF

When was the last time that you conquered your fear and came out victorious? 

It’s been raining for days in Quirino Province. The sun has been hiding and sleeping with the cold weather of December. But the thirst for adventure must be quenched despite the gloomy weather.

The jeepney brought us to Aglipay Caves in the town named after Fr. Gregorio Aglipay, a former Catholic priest who founded a religious sect called Philippine Independent Church.

Discovered in 1983, the 101- hectare Aglipay Caves and Campsite is an adventure seeker’s haven. One can do trekking, birding, and camping.

According to our tour guide, 27 species of birds have been identified in the area including the kalaw (endemic to Quirino), kingfisher, and the balinsasayaw.

The Aglipay Cave has 37 chambers but only eight were explored. Out of the eight, only four are opened to tourists. The other four are for those who are experienced in advance caving.

Unlike other caves that are difficult to get into, Aglipay Cave’s first chamber was easy. There was a concrete stairs going up. But the fun begins when we entered the chamber. It was dark. Even though we have lamps and flash lights, the lights were not enough to illuminate the whole chamber.  One of the interesting formations is the rice terraces.

I thought the adventure has ended when I saw daylight as we came out of the cave. The guide said, “Simula pa lang ‘yan.” (It was just the beginning).

We walked on a slippery path in the forested area of Aglipay Cave. This was something unique with this cave system. You have to go out to get to the next one unlike other caves which are interconnected.

Surprise! Waahhh….

Are you sure we’re going to enter that small hole? Kasya ba kami dyan,” I asked.

“Yes, that’s the only way to the eighth chamber,” replied the guide.

I was the first one to enter after the guide. He assured me that it would be spacious inside. And so I squeezed myself into that small hole. Indeed, the eighth chamber has enough breathing space.

But that was just a preview of the most challenging stunt that we have to do inside the cave from Chamber 8 to Chamber 2.

We transformed into a duck and walked like one. (Hehe).

It was about 5 minutes. Not too far. Kayang kaya!

And then another hole came before our eyes. Waah…This time it was smaller. The guide demonstrated first how we’re going to pass through it. It was a “rebirth.”

So that’s how it feels going out of my mother’s womb? That was the smallest hole that I’ve gone through.

The challenge continued with being a worm with the face almost kissing the ground. Knowing how to do push-ups somehow helped.

From Chamber two, we proceeded to chamber three, where the last stunt awaits us. To get out of the cave, we climbed a slippery steel ladder. It was scary. Thank God my legs didn’t fail me even though my knees were shaken. The guide calls it, “Ladder of Success.” Indeed, it was.

Thank you to the local guide who helped me in getting back to the base camp alive and whole (no sprained foot even though the trail was slippery, Thank God!).

In Quirino Province, you’d get dirty. See? But nonetheless, fresh water is available for rinsing. You can also take a shower at the camp site’s comfort room.

Have you conquered your fear? Share your story!

COSTS:

Environmental FEE: Php 25.00

Tour Guide Fee: The LGU of Quirino is yet to standardize the rate. So it really depends on the tourist on how much you want to give. Php 250 is a decent tour guide fee to give.

NOTES:

  • As of now, there’s no helmet for tourists. One should bring his/her own spelunking lights and helmet. But the Local Government of Quirino Province plans to put up a formal registration booth for Aglipay Cave and will eventually include safety gears for tourists.
  • PLEASE ALWAYS GET A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE. Do not venture on your own without a guide. Better safe than sorry. Don’t compromise your safety with being thrifty.

HOW TO GET TO AGLIPAY CAVE?

  • It’s best to coordinate with the Tourism Office of Quirino Province for the arrangement of your tour .

Tourism Officer: Ms. Aurea Martinez / 0917 416 5945

***

Special Thanks to the Province of Quirino and to the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines for inviting Tripadora to discover the province.

Quirino Province: Where Eco-Adventure begins

Quirino Province: Where Eco-Adventure begins
Download PDF

Where are you going?“, he asked.

Quirino,” I replied.

“Quirino Grandstand?”

Nope, Quirino Province.

What’s in a name? Both places were named after the sixth president of the Philippines (2nd president of the Third Republic of the Philippines), Elpidio Quirino.

Quirino Province is not new to me as I’ve been to Diffun (one of its six towns) during one of my educational trips in college. But I only remember visiting a logging company. That was a blurry memory. Nothing significant. It was just a tip of the iceberg.

Who would have thought that this landlocked province bounded by Isabela in the North, Aurora in the East, Sierra Madre mountain ranges in the Southern border and Mamparang range in the west would bring exciting adventures to this thrill seeker?

Yes, Quirino Province, which is formerly part of Nueva Vizcaya, may not be in the tourists’ radar yet but it has a lot to offer to those who seek adventure in its raw and rough form. Watch the video here.

QUIRINO PROVINCE is WHERE YOU GET DIRTY.

Nope, not that kind of dirty that you’re thinking. This is getting dirty in its literal sense. Challenge yourself in an hour or two (depending on your pace) of exploring the four chambers of Aglipay Caves.

AGLIPAY CAVE has 37 chambers but only 8 were explored. Out of the 8 chambers of Aglipay, only four are opened to tourists.

Are you ready to get dirty? I did. Read about it here.

QUIRINO PROVINCE is WHERE YOU GET WET

Do you want to get wet? You can get wet and wild be it in Quirino’s 20 waterfalls, hotsprings, and rivers.

NAGTIPUNAN’s SIITAN RIVER CRUISE- Ride the local wooden boat called balasiyan, while the bugador (boatman) paddles towards an enchanting beauty of lush green hills and limestone mountain surrounding Siitan, one of the tributaries of Rio Grande de Cagayan or Cagayan River, the longest river in the Philippines at 505 kilometers. (More of this in a separate post).

 

QUIRINO PROVINCE is WHERE YOU GET FAST.

Do you want a thrilling ride on uneven terrains? Then bring your two-wheeled companion at the Motocross Mountain of Quirino Province. Quirino Province will be holding a Motocross Festival from March 6-8, 2015 in its capital, Cabbaroguis.

 

QUIRINO PROVINCE is WHERE YOU GET HIGH.

Get high when you ride on top of the Philippines’ iconic local vehicle, the jeepney when visiting the town of Nagtipunan.

 

The scenic rolling hills planted with corn would surely take your breath away.

Photo courtesy of Edgar of eazytraveler.net
Photo courtesy of Edgar of www.eazytraveler.net

Majority of the locals of Quirino Province earn a living out of farming. Agriculture is Quirino’s main industry. The harvested corn is sold and used for animal feeds.

Reflect on life while staring at the awesome view of Ponggo Valley. You may find the answers to your questions here.

Ponggo Valley by Tripadora.com

Drink tapuy (local rice wine) to bring warmth to the body in the cool Tapaw Landingan (Landingan Viewdeck), one of the most picturesque site in Quirino.

Can’t wait for your eco-adventure to begin?

Here’s how you can get to QUIRINO PROVINCE:

BY PLANE: This is the easiest and fastest way to get to Quirino. Though there’s no airport in Quirino, you may ride a plane from Manila to Cauayan, Isabela, Quirino’s neighboring province.

From Cauayan, take a ride to Santiago. From Santiago, you may ride a UV Express to Cabarroguis (Php 40.00).

TRAVEL TIME (plane + land travel): Almost 2 hours

BY BUS: You may choose among these bus companies: Florida, Northern Luzon Bus, Five Star to get to Maddela, Quirino.

Travel Time: 8 hours

BUS FARE: Php 480.00 one-way

Five Star Bus Terminal is located at 2532 Legarda St., Sampaloc, Manila.

Discover the Undiscovered–The Province of Quirino and you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable adventure.

*****

Special thanks to the Province of Quirino and to the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines for inviting Tripadora to experience Quirino.