Tuesday, May 20, 2014

(mis)adventures in Dumaguete and Siquijor

One November night in Starbucks Drive thru, Marvsz and I planned 2014 to be a year of travelling. We listed different places that we want to go to and months when we're available.  I was having second thoughts if everything will go as planned because of financial constraints. Luckily, this year entered and our El Nido trip last February pushed through and we also finally saw Siquijor last weekend.

DAY 1. Our itinerary involves touring around Dumaguete city, snorkeling at Apo Island, discovering the beauty of Siquijor then back at Dumaguete. We have 4 days to squeeze everything. We left Manila at around 2 already (delayed flight c/o Cebupac!) without having any lunch yet. The flight is about an hour and 30 minutes so imagine the hunger I was feeling when we arrived/

From the airport, we rode a tricycle (P 120) to go to our hotel. We reserved a room at Harold's mansion weeks before our trip but there was a miscommunication and they weren't able to reserve a room for us. The owner of Harold's was very accommodating though to look for a new hotel for us and offer free breakfast the next day. We stayed at K-lodge, a minute walk from Harold's, for a night. It was in favor of us since they offer cheaper lodging (P 700/ night). When we finished settling in K-lodge, we decided to look for a place to eat lunch since Marvsz and I were starving!
First meal in Dumaguete
We ate at Jo's Chicken Inato just along Siliman Ave. They offer unlimited rice for only P 97, it was the cheapest meal we had for our Dumaguete trip. After eating, we headed towards Dumaguete Church and Belfry tower.

Dumaguete Church
Belfry Tower
We just offered our prayers then went straight to Rizal Blvd to watch the sunset. We sat at Honeycomb Restaurant to enjoy the view of the sunset. Unfortunately, the clouds were blocking the sun :( After finishing our bottle of beer, we went to Royal Inn Suite to taste their famous Sizzling Bulalo.

Sizzling Bulalo
The meal was expensive for 2 people (P 350 / person) but we still went for it. I would be lying if I say that it wasn't tasty because it was. If I didn't care about my health too much, I would eat everything! Of course, we didn't finish everything (because it's meant for 5 people haha) so we just gave it to the tricycle driver who drove us back to K-lodge. 

We love Dumaguete but Dumaguete doesn't love us back :(
DAY 2. Our second day was reserved for Apo Island. We reserved a snorkeling tour at Harold's mansion for P 1000 and it includes transportation, boat transfer, lunch and snorkeling gear. They told us to be there at 6:30am. We slept early the night before so we can wake up at 6 am. Unfortunately, when we arrived there they told us that it was cancelled since we are the only one who booked for a snorkeling trip. Good thing I woke up at the right side of the bed because if I didn't, I would really get mad haha! I just got pissed a little that they didn't tell us earlier by texting us. Anyway, we decided to go to Apo Island via commute. We rode a tricycle (P 10) going to Ceres' Bus terminal then rode a bus (P 50) en route to Bayawan. We went down at Malatapay Market (Tell the conductor/driver if you're not familiar with the place) then just walked until we reached the port/sea. The lady in Harold's already told us that the boat will be expensive for 2 pax. A boat for 4 costs P 2000 so we decided to wait for other people to join us and cut our expenses in half. We waited for a few minutes and luckily, there were 2 foreigners (they came from Harold's too!!) who joined us. The boat ride was around 45 minutes - an hour (depending on the waves). Upon arriving, we paid P 100 for environmental fee (I think) then immediately rented snorkeling gears. I rented a snorkeling mask (P 100), life jacket (P 100), shoes (P 100) and hired a tour guide (P 300) to show us the turtles and other fishes.

Apo Island
I was awestruck when I saw my first sea turtle ♥ ♥ . It was such a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful sight. I fell in love with them. We saw a total of 5 turtles lurking around the area and a few fishes. Before, there was 2 sites for snorkeling but they closed the other side because it was destroyed by Typhoon Sendong and Pablo. At first, I was saddened because the destroyed side has more corals and fishes but it gave me a reason to go back. I will definitely go back when they open that area again :) Marvsz and I went snorkeling for about an hour or more. When we got hungry, we went to the restaurant in one resort there and I ordered their "Delicious Filipino fish" (this was according to their menu). It did not fail me though because it was delicious ;)

Delicious Filipino fish (P260)
We had an agreement with the boatmen that we will leave at around 3pm. Since we ate lunch early and it's just 12:30, Marvsz and I decided to go up the lighthouse. We took 300 steps (according to the locals) just to go up. From the lighthouse area, you can see the islands of Negros and Siquijor. It was a beautiful sight (Those 300 steps were worth it).

I survived 300 steps, yo!
When we went down, it was only 1:30. We were hoping that the foreigners who joined our boat were finished already but unfortunately, they were still swimming and snorkeling. Since we have a lot of time to kill, we decided to roam around the island. I started talking to different locals there and I had a few interesting conversations with them (from history to showbiz news! haha!). I will definitely go back there!

We left the island at around 3pm and went back to Dumaguete. We first settled in our room in Harold's then went to Dumaguete port to book a trip to Siquijor. Unfortunately (again), the ticketing booths were closed already. We saw that the earliest trip to Siquijor is at 10am, it's far from our plan but we can't do anything about it. We decided to just wake up early the next day and book the 10am trip to Siquijor. We then headed to Hayahay Restaurant for a dinner to cap off the day. They offer fresh seafood entrees which I enjoyed so much. 

Baked Oysters at Hayahay
DAY 3. We went to the port at around 6:45 am and luckily for us, they have a 8:45 am trip! We were so lucky because they only have 3 slots left! Woot woot! We paid P 160 for the ferry trip. We went back to Harold's to pack up then we went back to the port. The ferry ride was around 45 minutes. When we arrived at Siquijor, I was seriously lost for words. I have never seen such beautiful waters and the island was still full of trees that you can't see anywhere! We hurriedly hired a tricycle to drive us around the island. The going rate of tours for tricycle drivers is P 1200.

Our first stop is the Old Enchanted Balete tree where you can have a free fish spa. You can enjoy the tree's beauty while little fishes nibble on your feet. It was a one of a kind experience.

Old Balete Tree
Next up was Lazi Church and convent. We stopped there for a while to pray and just appreciate the old structure.

Lazi Church
Lazi Convent
Our tricycle driver brought us in a small carinderia in Lazi to eat lunch (Yey cheap food!). After eating, we proceeded to Cambugahay falls where the famous tarzan rope is. I was very excited to finally try jumping off a rope but when we arrived there, there were a lot of people! I was ready to try the tarzan rope but I wasn't ready for the big audience (haha!). People would really watch everyone jumping off the rope. Marvsz and I swam first then when we finally had the guts to try it, we went for it. IT WAS AMAZING. 

Cambugahay falls
Since we survived the tarzan rope, Marvsz and I thought that the cliff diving in Salagdoong would be easy but it wasn't! My favorite stop for the day would definitely be Salagdoong. Before reaching the beautiful beach, you will be amazed by Salagdoong's forest. I swear, I just want to pass through these trees again and again. I took so many photos and videos of this forest ♥ I can still imagine this beauty in my head and I badly want to see it again, someday.   

Beautiful trees of Salagdoong
When we arrived Salagdoong beach, we were welcomed by beautiful fire trees and the clear waters, together with loads of people swimming. The place may have a lot of tourists during that time but the beach wasn't that crowded. We went straight to our agenda... the cliff diving spot. 

Salagdoong beach
Again, there were a lot of people when we arrived there. Most of the people there were just watching those who will jump. It was nerve wrecking when you see how high the jump will be. It seriously took me an hour to go for it. When I jumped, I was freed from all the nervousness and worry. Marvsz wanted to do it again because he wanted me to take a video of him. Since I also want a video of me, I jumped again (see other blog post!). 

We left Salagdoong smiling (we look crazy) because we both crossed an item off our bucket list. Until now, I can't believe I did that twice. We went back to the our resort in San Juan to watch the beautiful sunset. This definitely went to my list of Best Sunset in the Philippines (alongside Corong Corong, Palawan). 
Sunset in San Juan, Siquijor
We stayed at Coral Cay Resort for the night. I highly recommend Coral Cay for those who find Coco Grove expensive. The beachfront cottage costs P 2000 for 2 pax. The staff were super friendly and accommodating. They even allowed us to play pool even if it's 11pm already. The food was superb and we enjoyed the sunset happy hour (5-7 pm). After eating dinner, we went for a swim at their pool. It was very peaceful while we were there and I just enjoyed looking at the stars while swimming. It was the best way to end the day. 

DAY 4. I was in love by Siquijor's beauty so I got sad that we are leaving soon. I woke up early to enjoy the beach while reading a good book. 

View from our cottage
We left the resort at 9:30 am because we don't have a ticket to Dumaguete yet. Our flight is at 4:45pm so we need to be back at Dumaguete for lunch (since we will be buying pasalubongs). We bought the 11:30 ferry ride back. Since we still have time, we visited St. Francis Church (just in front of the port). 

You say Welcome, I say See you again (soon)
When we arrived at Dumaguete, we walked to Sans Rival for lunch. Their ribs were to die for plus it's cheap (around P 180). We bought Sans Rival and Silvanas to bring home to our family and friends. I was super sad to leave Dumaguete but I must go back to reality. Work started calling when I was in the airport so yeah, reality's checking in. The flight was delayed (again!!) for 1 hour so we left Dumaguete at around 6 pm already. 

This trip is truly one for the books! I will definitely be back (and I can't wait!)

Travel buddy for the year

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