Monday, March 25, 2013

Moving

Hi everyone!
Blogger has played a huge part in my blogging 'career'. hehe.
Kidding aside, I started blogging in this platform for over 4 years.
I love blogger but I also embrace change.

So, I have decided to transfer my blog to WordPress.

Please check out my new blog here.
It's http://imchasingplaces.com/. =)

Thank you so much!

P.S. I'll be posting my backlogs in my new blog :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How to Travel by Bus from Davao to Brgy.Dahilayan, Bukidnon

Brgy. Dahilayan in Bukidnon is the place to be if you're looking for an out-of-town experience that combines adventure, relaxation, and a whole lot of fun! 

What's in Brgy. Dahilayan?
  • Dahilayan Adventure Park to unleash that daredevil in you (check out the Dropzone)
  • Forest Park - perfect for families and groups 
  • Dahilayan Garden - great place to commune with nature
How to get to Brgy. Dahilayan from Davao City?
If you're from Davao City, get a cab or jeepney (SM Ecoland, Ecoland) and tell the driver to drop you off at the bus terminal. Fare for cab rides may vary from your location. 

Check out buses bound for Cagayan de Oro. 
Tip: If you're traveling in the wee hours of the morning, you may opt to ride the non-airconditioned bus. You will appreciate the cool wind and the amazing view as you will approach Bukidnon. 


Tell the driver to drop you off at Manolo Fortrich. 
Fare: P380

We left Davao City by 2am and arrived in Manolo Fortrich at around 8am, with one stop for breakfast. So, it's around 6 hours of travel. 

From Manolo Fortrich, you have to ride a motorcycle (locally called habal-habal) to get you to Dahilayan Adventure Park. We paid the drivers P350. That's the roundtrip fare. They took us to Dahilayan Adventure Park, Dahilayan Garden which is just a few meters away from the Adventure Park, and then to Camp Phillips. 



Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Art of 24-Hour Travels

If you've been itching to go somewhere but is held back by the common excuse of having a full-time job, then this series of 24-hour travels is a must read for you. Back then, when I was still holding a full-time job in a healthcare facility,  I find means to travel despite my schedule. I travel with people who also have a full-time job to make a living. We may hold different careers but if there's one thing we have in common, that would be our love for traveling.

Here's a list of the places we've explored while still having a full-time job.
Details of each place (how to get there, expenses, etc) will be posted this week, so stay tuned ;)

Adrenaline Rush at Bukidnon
November 21, 2012

First Water Tubing 
November 30, 2012

Beach bumming + Road Trip at S.Cotabato
December 08, 2012

Series of Misadventures in Davao Oriental
December 22, 2012

Year Ender Trip at Epol
December 31, 2012

Food Trip + Amazing Zip at Lake Sebu
January 27, 2013

How we do it:
I check my schedule beforehand, jotted down my off-days. Most of these trips are done after my 3-11 shift. I go home to take a quick shower, pack my bag, and meet my travel buddy/buddies in the bus station. We catch some sleep while in the bus and take our breakfast there too.

After the day's trip, we all go home and prepare for the following day's work. That's how we make traveling happen.
Tiring? YES but we get a whole LOT of fun, adventure, and LOTS of good memories to look back.

You, too, can do this.
It's really just a matter of setting priorities.
Tara, let's travel!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The iTravel Project

Hi everyone!
I'm currently working on the backlogs.
But anyway, I'm here to tell you that I'm planning to come up with a new section for this blog - iTravel.
The purpose of this iTravel Project is to give you an idea how people from different walks of life, age, career, and even culture find time to travel. Thus, I now welcome guest posts :)

So, if you have an exciting travel story (could be an off-beaten path, unforgettable tourist spot or lessons along the road), feel free to share them here.
You can email your stories, photos, and a brief description of yourself/biography at
chasingplacesbyjoann(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Together, let's motivate other people whatever their age or work may be to go out and explore the world.

Excited to read and post your stories here! :D

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Camotes Island One-Day Tour

Just a few hours away from the city of Cebu, Camotes Island provides a great place for the weekend warriors. It has a laid back atmosphere, perfect for those who are seeking a place away from the noise of the city. So, if you want to re-fuel again, feel refresh, and recharge yourself for whatever life throws at you, head to Camotes Island. And don't worry if you just have a day to check it out. You still can enjoy it as we did. 


Here's how you can spend your one day in Camotes Island: 

1. Reflect in the Green Lake


While you can't really do a lot of things here, there's one thing that this place is known for - its view of the tranquil lake. Whether you're a reflective person or not, the place will force you to think deeply. The place provides the right view and silence for helping you think things through.

2. Kayak in the Blue Lake


If you've been wanting to do something fun and healthy at the same time, then you better try kayaking in the Blue Lake, also known as Lake Danao. And do not just aim to kayak for a few minutes. Challenge yourself to reach that mini island in the center of the lake. It'll definitely put into use your biceps and triceps :)

3. Explore the Timubo Cave 


Timubo Cave is one of the famous spots in Camotes Island. If you've been to Hinagdanan Cave in Bohol, then you will observed that both caves have similarities - the improved 'trail' going into the deeper part of the cave and the clear blue water inside it. 


You shouldn't go out of the cave without having a dip into its water. It's one of the best things to do if you're there. The water will soothe you and will make you appreciate the cave even more. And if you have goggles with you, PLEASE, please use it. You will be amazed by the rock structures underneath. 

Note:
If you'd like to go around these places with ease, you can hire a motorcycle. My friend and I split the costs.
You can contact this driver (failed to write down his name) to be your guide - his rate is good enough: +639436466891

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Things to Do in Santiago Bay Garden and Resort

Located in the village of Santiago in Camotes Island, the Santiago Bay Garden and Resort provides a relaxing place for those who are looking for a sweet escape. We arrived in the resort at around 4 in the afternoon. The headache that I felt during the entire duration of air, land, and sea travel came to a stop when we've finally reached the resort.


The warmth of the greetings of the staff made me forget that I was cold due to being soaked in the rain. We didn't waste not a single minute. We signed up and went with one of their staff to our room accommodation. 

Our room is pretty decent for the price we paid for it. It is a two-bed room, with a single fan and own bath/toilet room. I've been staying in budget rooms for most of the time so the room itself is quite refreshing for me. 

our cozy room
We are like kids on our first camping activity, like every little thing matters. 
We change our clothes, arrange our stuff in the room, then immediately head out to explore the resort itself.

We are indeed lucky to got the room.
Its location is just perfect. 
It's just meters away from the stairway heading to the beach and it's a few steps away from the resort's restaurant. What a life! :D

We were expecting it to be a high tide since it's already late in the afternoon. Yet, we find ourselves walking a few more meters away from the shore just to have the right place to have a dip. It's not that I'm telling you that Santiago Bay is not a good place to swim because you still can swim there; it's just that you have to prepare to walk a few more meters from the shore.


If you're not just after a good swim, here are a few more things that you can do in the Santiago Bay and Garden Resort:

1. Have a tour around the resort

our so-called Island Hopping activity
While my friend and I were having a good swim, we saw a couple in what seems to be a boat for a mini island hopping activity. With that perception, we approached the boatman and asked him of his service. He is asking P500 for a brief 'island hopping' activity. We were thrilled because it's so cheap. Without hesitation, we got our cameras and hop into his boat. 


I don't know if I can just easily be pleased. I'm constantly getting awed with the rock formation and the clear blue water, like you can see what lies beneath the boat. It also amazes me to see houses settling just a few meters away from the beach (I want to have one someday). We asked the boatman if we could stop for a while to enjoy the water. We swam as if it's our last day on earth and as if we have gills. This is the life! I keep on exclaiming that to myself. Well, that tour ends in that one place alone. We didn't expect that as we thought it is an island hopping or resort hopping activity, turns out we're some sort of scammed. Well, we still enjoyed the place though that other side of the resort can be reached by swimming alone. 



2. Enjoy the food

nom nom
The prices of the food in the resort are neither expensive nor cheap. The meals are priced just right. That night, after swimming at the beach and at the pool (maybe we're fish in our past life), we satisfied our gastronomic cravings with the resort's version of adobo, chicken lollipop, and their special pizza. We just had a festive dinner good for a family of four! That's how hungry we are that time.

3. Watch the amazing sunrise

Just look at that!
One of my favorite things to do in life is to watch the sunrise. Sunrise has this special effect on me, like it's telling me that I'm heading towards something new, something better than yesterday. It gives me a glimpse of hope and strength even during the most trying times. We were dead tired that night from swimming, eating, and watching a pageant show (yes, we're lucky to have that event that night); yet, we still manage to set our alarm clocks at 5:30 am to witness the sunrise.

This is the life :)
Hitting the snooze button is not an option. The moment our phones set the alarm, we woke up excited for the sunrise. We immediately head to the beach and it was AMAZING. The view of the beach early morning is one of those best moments in the resort. It's invigorating. 


We were lucky that time 'cause there were just a few people (around 3 or 4) wandering around. We took the chance to take as many pictures as we can. 

We then had an early morning swim (not advisable for those who hated cold water) before we had our breakfast and tour of the Camotes Island.

4. Do nothing



I brought my laptop with me that time to work but due to problems with internet connection, I wasn't able to complete not even a single task. Thus, I ended up doing nothing. Contrary to what I believe, doing nothing is also a form of therapy. It relaxes your mind and makes you more focus on things that matter. So, I guess I have to think the lack of Globe signal that time :)



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Camotes Island: A Not-So-Hidden Paradise

It was Thursday evening. A high school friend, who I have been hanging out lately, asked me if I can come with her on her upcoming Cebu trip. At that time, I was bombarded with online projects. I asked her where exactly in Cebu will she be staying and she told me  'Camotes Island.' I google it immediately and much to my surprise, the island is a paradise.


She's supposed to travel with two of her colleagues, but they backed out due to work and other responsibilities. Awed with google image results of the island, I sent her a message telling her that I'll think about it. That night, I have conflicting thoughts and emotions. I wanted to go but I was thinking of my work. Can I still enjoy the place while being busy with online projects? And oh, the finances. I was waiting for the pay of my online projects that time. I set a deadline for myself to decide: Friday.


Friday came and I just found out that the flight to Cebu will be the following day (Saturday) at around 8am. Therefore, I need to decide ASAP.

I checked my bank account and the pay has arrived.
I worked my ass off to finish whatever pending tasks I have. Although I didn't manage to finish all of them, but at least, I have slash off 50% of the tasks in my to-do list. The ending? I said YES.

Even with doubts and hesitations, I packed my bag that night and prepared myself for an adventure.
This gonna be good...

How to get there
It was almost 10am when we reached the city of Cebu. We had a quick lunch in SM, board a van heading to Danao Port (P50). From Danao port, we immediately rode a trike to reach the port itself. The schedule for the roro trip to Camotes is this: 10 am, 12 noon, and last trip is 5:30 pm. So just imagine the things that we have to go through in order to catch the 12 noon trip. We ran, rushed to buy the roro tickets (P200 + environmental fee of P5) - parang nasa Amazing Race lamang.

We were relieved when we made it, just 5 minutes before its scheduled trip.

sea sick!

The situation in the roro isn't good.
It was raining that time and we find ourselves nauseous in the middle of the trip. Yes, we were seasick.

To find comfort, we went out of the airconditioned room. The open area of the roro helped. But I still feel nauseous that time. I kept on exclaiming to myself, Camotes, you should be worth it. 

The nausea and headache we felt that time came to a temporary stop when we've finally had a glimpse of the island. That moment was priceless. It's like seeing an oasis in the middle of a desert.

We prepared our bags, got off the roro, immediately hired a motorcycle and give the driver instructions to take us to Santiago Bay, our home-to-be for 2 days in the island.


And our adventure begun...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Getting Touristy in Camiguin

Unshaken by the previous day's traumatic flight, all of us woke up early to have our breakfast in a nearby restaurant. The great thing about traveling with my parents is the fact that we almost have the same travel principle. That is, to travel as cheaply as possible without compromising comfort or experience.


After checking in in GV Hotel, we then went out to have a sumptuous breakfast in a family-oriented restaurant in the heart of the town, the Parola.  Naming it as such is no brainer because just a few meters away from the restaurant is this old lighthouse (in Filipino, it's called Parola). It was drizzling that day so the park behind the parola seems like a ghost park that time.

I personally booked this trip to give my parents some time to relax, to break free from the daily stress of work and city traffic. Thus, I gave the entire 3 days to them, no adrenaline-rushing activities, just the typical tour that anyone would like to have. :)

And here folks, how we get touristy in Camiguin:

1. Learned a historical event in Camiguin through the Old Church Ruins



The Old Church Ruins of Catarman will remind every visitor of one of the tragic events that took place in Camiguin long time ago. Walking around the place will make you wonder the intensity of the volcanic eruption that swept away the entire town and this church.

2. Went on a spiritual retreat in the Walkway 



This is not your typical Stations of the Cross. It looks easy but the walk to complete all stations, which I mistakenly thought is only 12, is tiresome. It challenges your endurance. If you want to go mountain climbing one day, this definitely will help you train. 


This view from the top makes up for hours of trekking ;)
It feels so good to be in this place at that moment!

3. Remembered the past with the Sunken Cemetery

Aside from the Old Church Ruins, this Sunken Cemetery is one of those structures in Camiguin that will remind its people and visitors of the tragedy that took place in this town. 

 
To get into this marker, you have to ride one of those small boats that locales rented out for a P100. You can also go snorkeling around the place. When we got there, there were a few tourists in the actual spot who went snorkeling after.


4. Had a relaxing afternoon dip in Ardent's Hot Spring Resort


It's a good thing that it was raining that afternoon or else, we wouldn't be appreciating the warm water in Ardent's. This small pool here is said to have a temperature of over 30 degrees. Now, who would want to have that in a scorching day? ;p

If you're not a fan of warm water, you can opt for the cooler one behind this mini bridge.



5. Sun worshipped in the White Island


This is not really an island but just a sandbar. If you wanted to feel like it's summer again, then you better head here. Its awesome view of the volcano, white sand, and the clear blue water will put those beach resorts in your list on a shame. 

The only way to get into this sandbar is thru small boats that can carry around 4 persons each.



6. Got to know the different clam species in the Giant Clam Sanctuary and Nursery


My mother mistakenly thought that she can buy pearls from this place, which obviously, is the opposite. This sanctuary showcased the different clam species that you can find. Some are still alive while clam shells of the dead ones are kept for display purposes. By visiting this place, you will learn that a single pearl takes years to develop and to get one, people have to destroy one clam. So, before you buy those pearls, think of what it takes for them to land in your hands. Think nature!






7. Had a festive lunch at J&A Fishpen


How does a seafood lunch in a breezy cottage near a fishpen sounds to you? Good, better, or great? Well, it was fantastic for all of us! Not only did we had sumptuous food at J&A, we also had fun feeding those fish.







Excited to head to Camiguin?
Let me know how your vacation goes ;)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Camiguin: A Sweet Escape

The daily grind of life can take away that zest and passion in you. This is why I value 'microvacations' or getaways spread all-throughout the year than a grand annual vacation. And this time it's a great escape to be with those people I treasured most - my parents. 

It is my second time, my mom's nth time, and my father's first time to be in the Island Born of Fire. Excited and elated - these are what we felt the moment we board the plane bound to Cagayan de Oro City. Although the flight isn't something we expected (it's like being in roller-coaster ride), we still looked forward to finally reach the island.


It took us more than an hour to reach Camiguin thru a ferry. The blow of the sea breeze, the smell of its salty water, and the sight of the turquoise water are enough to set our mood for a great adventure that lies ahead. In the ferry, we meet a bicyclist who passionately shares his plan to bike around Tagbilaran. It's inspiring to meet such people, who have that overwhelming desire to do that one thing that excites them, that makes them fly inside ;)


Mr. Sunshine hid away as we reached the island. It was drizzling and we're a bit clueless what jeepney to take. We are like being on an amazing race family edition, hehe. We asked around and glad to have people who are willing to help us out, without asking for anything in return.


After taking a jeepney and tricycle rides and a few turns, we finally reached the hotel that will be our home for 2 days in the island. We checked in, unloaded our bags, and rested for a few minutes. The sweet escape has just begun.



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