Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How I spent Php1,000.00 in Cagbalete Island:

Cagbalete Island


I'm a little hesitant to blog about this island because this is one of my secret spot. You know we all have that one place where it always leaves a special mark in our heart & I guess this one is for me. Maybe because for the first time I finally tried the solo backpacking thing. Yup no one knows about this not even my Mom who constantly checks on my whereabouts. It's a good thing she's not reading this lol. Personally, I don't like travelling solo because (1) I don't have somebody to take my pictures (ang vain lang ng reason ko haha) & (2) it is more costly than when in groups. There are not many places where you can travel solo on a budget but for this trip I think I did well & forced myself not to go overboard & surprisingly enjoyed my solo trip. Anyway, I'm sharing this trip because I don't think I have a lot of readers & even if I have, I doubt that they will read this word by word lol. Seriously, I have many realizations during this trip. That it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, that it was both liberating & exhilarating, & that I finally understood the hype about solo travelling. I might just do it again next time haha

How to go to Cagbalete:
There is only one bus who goes directly to Mauban, Quezon and that is Jac Liner Bus. They only have 2 bus schedules though, 4AM & 11AM. The fare is about Php 270.00 & estimated travel time is aound 4 to 5 hours. In  case you missed the first trip (which happened to me), you can take the bus going to Lucena & get off  in Lucena Bus Terminal (Php 210.00). From there, you can take another bus going to Mauban (Php 50.00) & drop off in Mauban Public Market. You can opt to ride a tricycle from Mauban Market to the port (Php 10.00) or you can walk if you're not in a hurry.

Mauban Port
You should be in the Mauban Port on or before 10:00AM to catch the first trip going to Sabang Port (Cagbalete Island). Boat fare is Php 50.00 & travel time is around 45 minutes to 1 hour. In case you missed this, the next scheduled boat trip is already at 3:00PM but there are also private boat who offers to get you to the island for a higher price. Fare depends on the number of passengers. Small boat for 4 people is about Php 2,000 while the bigger boats cost Php 4,000 but I think you can still haggle though.


I arrived on the island around 1:00 in the afternoon & was surprised that the island surrounding the resort was in low-tide. I mean I was so used to the idea that when somebody says it's low tide, the water is at least still visible in the naked eye but the case here is different. The water was totally wiped out or pushed back from the island for about 1 to 2 kilometers. I was so amazed that I asked the boatman if this is always the case here, he just casually confirmed "Opo ma'am, ganito po talga dito araw-araw" (Yes ma'am, this happen everyday)

This is how it looks during low tide. I have to walk for 10 to 15 minutes to reach the resort.
That little house is the Villa Cleofas Resort
The water will go back to normal at around 4:00PM (high tide) up to early morning then it will start to recedes at around 11:00AM. You can see it right before your very eyes the transformation of the sea levels. At one point I feel like I'm Moses actually especially when I walked towards the sandbar (the main haighlight of the whole trip) when it was just starting to appear. Lakas maka-mahika ang ganap dun haha I think that was also the start of my obsession to sandbars lol

Ahhhhhh sandbar!!!

Tip: Electricity in the island is on rotational basis. It is available from 6:00PM to 10:00PM & will be back on 6:00AM to 10:00AM the next day. I'm not sure if this is also the case to other resort so make sure to bring your power banks.

Where to stay in Cagbalete:
There are various resorts to choose from in Cagbalete Island which I listed below. As for me I choose to stay in Villa Cleofas because they allow their guest to pitch their own tent for a minimal fee & also because of their own sandbar which makes it even more better.


This is the first time that I've seen a sunrise by the beach. Puro sunset lang kc naabutan ko haha
Yun lang against the light lol

Other Resort in the Island:
Tip: Be mindful of the boat schedules that will depart from the island because the last trip is around 1:00PM or so depending on the number of passengers so make sure to catch the last trip or else you will be stuck in the island.








Note: The reason why I was so confident to wear bikini because there are only a few people in the resort aside from the staff. I think most of the guest are still sleeping or already went home so it almost looked like my private resort lol




Breakdown of Expenses:
Bus to Lucena Bus Terminal: Php 210.00
Lucena Bus Terminal to Mauban Public Market: Php 50.00
Tricycle from Mauban Market to Port: Php 10.00
Environmental Fee: Php 50.00
Boat Fare from Mauban Port to Cagbalete: Php 50.00
Entrance Fee in Villa Cleofas: Php 50.00
Tent Fee (Overnight): Php 250.00
Boat from Cagbalete to Mauban Port: Php 50.00
Tricycle going to Jac Liner Terminal: Php 10.00
Bus from Mauban to Buendia (Manila): Php 270.00
Total: Php 1,000.00

Tip: You can bring you own food in the island because once you got there, almost everything are twice the price. Well since I was travelling alone, I just brought basic food (bread, snacks & never ever forget water). I was telling myself that I'm on a diet anyway so I don’t have to eat much lol. But I got hungry that night & ended up ordering one cup of rice & century tuna canned goods which already cost me Php 100.00. So much for dieting haha

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hong Kong (On the spot itinerary)

And you would have thought that I made any preparation in Hong Kong compared to Macau since HK is obviously bigger, I didn't lol! Well except for our accommodation which is the first thing that I always secure. I'm not that reckless yet hehe So this feels like I have a big exam tomorrow and I just study the night before. But before any one of you start panicking, Hong Kong is one of Asia's most tourist-friendly destination.


Getting around in Hong Kong is fairly simple. It is highly recommended to buy an Octopus card (HKD 150.00, the HKD 50.00 is a refundable deposit) which is a prepaid contactless debit card that can be used to pay for almost all kinds of public transport, as well as for paying in convenience stores, supermarkets, many restaurant especially chains such as McDonald's, vending machines, museums, and many more.  Their Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is the fastest way to get around & almost all the famous attractions in Hong Kong are accessible through this so you really don't have to worry of getting lost.

If you are coming directly from Hong Kong airport, you can buy the Octopus card in the customer service section. Well since we are coming from Macau, we arrive in Hong Kong past 12 midnight. Note: We still have a spare Macau Pataca (Macau & Hong Kong have different currencies) that we thought was acceptable in Hong Kong since Macau accepts Hong Kong dollar but for some reason it doesn't work the other way around. Also MTR stations only operate until 1:00AM so we almost missed it.

You think our misfortune in Macau doesn't follow us here in Hong Kong, well things just gets worse. We are staying in the vey infamous Chung King Mansion and arrive here around 1:00AM (puyatan po tlga kapag magtravel). We went inside the guesthouse where we have a confirmed online booking & was welcomed by an angry owner. He was angry on why we didn't informed him that we are arriving late & he already cancelled our booking. Just like that, cancelled the 4 nights we already paid for. To cut the long story short (after protest & arguements in 1:00AM mind you), we were left with no option but to leave. Saklap dba?? I was like "Where are we going to sleep, on the street?" Good thing though the Indian guy who works to other guest house offer to help us that he knows someone who still have a vacant room at this time of the night. So we got transferred to another guesthouse & obviously have to pay again. It still hurts when I'm writing this you know lels.

I've been to a lot of backpacker's & budget hotel before but this has totally taken me by surprise. (1) The first thing you will notice here is the crowd of guys outside the building offering you rooms (just ignore them if you've already booked a room). I've read in some blogs that its actually cheaper if you just walk-in here without reservation compared to booking online because you can haggle & see the room for yourself. (2) The building is 17 storeys tall & consist of five blocks, A, B, C, D & E. You should be particular on what blocks you are since there are also five different elevator serving each block. (3) Once you get inside the building, there are various stalls available from mini shops selhling foods, cellphones, clothes, money changer & almost everything you can think of. (4) You're going to be amazed on the different nationalities you can see here. It's like a mini version of International airport. (5) There are various guesthouse inside the building with different owners. Some have good reviews, some don't, some exaggerated, some outdated, but mostly true. We stayed in Nagaland Guesthouse. For some reason the owner was overly accommodating to us but I think he's extra nice to all his Filipino guest. Click the link here for more info about the guesthouse Booking.com Personally, the place wasn't all that bad. You kind of get used to it, just get through all the madness downstairs & you will be alright. I think the biggest surprise would be how small the rooms are compared in the photos. We were given a room good for 3 person & it's still wasn't big enough than I'm used to. Well this kind of set-up is common in Hong Kong because the rent here is very expensive & beggars can't be choosers anyway. Location wise though, Chung King Mansion is just a stone-throw away from Tsim Sha Tsui station, bus station going to the airport & ferry going to Macau & China.


I could write a book about this place but there was one who did already, http://guilhermesolari.com/review-ghetto-at-the-center-of-the-world-by-gordon-mathews/ so I conceded lol. Do I recommend staying in this place? It can go both ways. If you are adventurous & have a tight budget, then this place is for you. If you are claustrophobic or have a bigger budget, then better stay in a fancy hotel.


How to go to Disneyland:
Since this is the most popular tourist attraction in Hong Kong, we just follow the signs located inside the MTR station haha From Tung Chung MTR line, get off at the Sunny Bay Interchange. Just across is the Disneyland Resort Train or the famous "Mickey Mouse" train.



Yung totoo wala pang kalahating araw masakit na paa ko haha so pls lang, wear your most comfortable shoes #dontme

Be sure to catch the Disney Stars parade at night. Sulit yung 3k entrance fee lels!

How to go to Ocean Park:
Take the MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui station to Admiralty. Once there, find the bus station located at Exit B and get on to Citybus Route 629.




Ayun mahirap magpanggap..back to sneakers!

Victoria Peak

How to go to Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car:
  1. Ride the MTR Station from Tsim Sha Tsui and get off at Lai King Interchange
  2. Just across is the Tung Chung Line & alight at Tung Chung Station
  3. Exit at Exit B
  4. You are on the right track when you see the City Gate Outlet Mall, beside it on the left side is the entrance going to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride


Mong Kok! The famous shopping district in Hong Kong
Avenue of Stars



Below here is my sample itinerary. As you can see, this is just a throwback travel post because I wasn't really planning on making a blog until last month. Well if not now, when? haha So forgive me if I can't give the exact breakdown of all our expenses but I think the rough estimate was about Php 20,000.00 (HK & Macau) all-in for 5 days & 4 nights.

July 23, 2016
1:00AM+

10:00AM


11:00AM


10:00PM
Check-in at Nagaland Guesthouse (HK 200.00/night)

Breakfast in Jollibee Central Station (opo may Jollibee sa HK lels)

ETA in Disneyland
(Spend the whole day in Disneyland)

ETD from Disneyland to Guesthouse
July 24, 2016
9:00AM

9:30AM-6:30PM

7:00PM

8:00PM-10:00PM
ETD going to Ocean Park

Ocean Park


ETD going to Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak
July 25, 2016
9:00AM

11:00AM

11:00AM-2:00PM

2:30PM

4:00PM

6:30PM
ETD going to Ngong Ping 360

ETA of arrival in Ngong Ping 360

Ngong Ping 360


ETD from Ngong Ping 360 to Mong Kok

Shopping in Mong Kok

Avenue of Stars, Victoria Harbour (located in Tsim Sha Tsui)
July 26, 2016
7:00AM
ETA going to airport


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Macau (On the spot itinerary)

Yes you read that right. This is probably my most unprepared trip which also happen to be out-of-the-country that I ever did in my life. Normally I am already done with my itinerary days/weeks before the scheduled travel date but this is a first. Maybe because I have a back-to-back-to-back travels before this trip & then my working schedule was so loaded that I totally lost track of time. Well I already read a lot of blogs to give me an idea which places to go to & Macau is just small, you can finished touring the city for one whole day so no need to worry lol! If this is your first trip abroad, don't ever come unprepared just like what I did because it pays to have a detailed itinerary and it certainly will save you more time & money. Another challenge was that I cannot seem to find in the internet or blogs where they take Macau as their first stop then cross border to Hong Kong. Its always Hong Kong-Macau or just a day trip to Macau then back again to Hong Kong. So I guess I always make an unusual route & hopefully I could help you with this itinerary if you ever found yourself in the same situationšŸ˜Š

This trip will be divided into 2 part post because as you all know, Macau & Hong Kong goes hand in hand together since they are just an hour away from each other. The moment we landed in Macau International Airport was already a disaster because (1) our plane was delayed for 2 hours (2) we were supposed to take the free shuttle (all the five star hotel in Macau offered this kind of arrangement to attract more guest/tourist even if you're not their own guest. In short it is open for everyone so try to avail this) that will take us near our hotel but it was already past midnight when we arrived & the free shuttle are only available before midnight so we were advised to take the bus instead which is the cheapest way to go. (3) We met 2 OFW while waiting for the bus in the airport that offered to help us get to our hotel because they claimed that it was also in the 'same way' to where they are staying. It turns out it wasn't. We ended up walking for almost an hour along with our noisy & heavy luggage in the middle of the night, striding along the uphill & downhill slope that Macau street was known for. I.cant.even.. Makaiyak just remembering haha It was more of Ate gurrl's route mind you because she was like "I'm already here, don't cross the street & go right" Ok, so we were left on our own. I don't even have the energy to argue because I was thirsty & hungry & tired & we should have just taken the taxi from the beginning. So how did we survive the night? Well, the best solution was to ask around. It took us 3 to 5 tries to ask the local because only a few can understand English. There's still hope for human kind after all or perhaps we looked so exhausted that the locals took pity of us haha

Finally made it to our hotel! Our room feels like heaven after all the challenges that we experienced. I was quite surprised with how big our room was. It looks like a family room that can fit for 10 persons when I just booked a standard room good for 2. I think the Reception guy just chose whatever key was available or he must have been very sleepy since its already past 1:00AM but we are not complaining though & we were only staying for less than 8 hours so ibigay nyo na toh haha Whether we got upgraded or not, I highly recommend their hotel because it's just walking distance to St. Paul Ruins & Senado Square. I booked through Agoda or click the link here for more details about Town Well Hotel https://www.agoda.com/towns-well-hotel/hotel/macau-mo.html  Take note that prices of hotel in Macau is more expensive compared to Hong Kong. I think the cheapest that I've seen in the net is from Php 2,000+ per night so if you are on a tight budget, you can visit Macau for day tour.









Pak! Mukha akong matangkad dito haha


Below's my itinerary for a day tour in Macau. For the cost, I think we spend around Php 3,000.00+ (the hotel & ferry ticket going to Hong Kong takes most of the budget) all-in which I think was reasonable enough since we save a lot in the transporation cost (thanks to all the free shuttle!)

July 21, 2016
Evening
Arrival on Macau International Airport

**Check-in at Towns Well Hotel (Php 2,651.81/night) **
July 22, 2016
9:00-11:00
Breakfast on the nearby Mcdo

Senado Square

St. Paul Ruins

Macau Museum

12:00-4:00
Lunch

Macau Tower

Fisherman's Wharf

Sands Resort Macau

4:00-8:00
Casino Hopping (Venetian Hotel, Studio City, City of Dreams, Parisian Hotel)

Back to Hotel to get our luggage then rode a bus to Macau Ferry Terminal