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Gusto kong matutong mag-drive

Published May 15, 2013 by Diosa

Have you played a song in your head over and over again? Or perhaps do you have a theme song for your current endeavor?

Four years ago, I got my driver’s license but didn’t drive. I’m proud to say that I went through the whole legal process. For some unknown reasons, I just didn’t drive. Last January, our car was left in my care. I have no choice but to drive it. Lucky me, right? I did learn how to drive (thanks to A1 and my dad) and going to Pampanga put my skills to the test. And now the song plays on, magda-drive ako buong taon,magda-drive ako habang buhay, magda-drive ako hanggang buwan

Well, here’s my first long drive or overdrive…

on the way  to arayat

just exiting NLEX at San Simon. A scenic drive turned nightmare when we got lost.

I decided to go to Gintung Pakpak Ecopark because it had been raining and it wouldn’t be safe to go to Biak-na-Bato (that’s what I was told) Since I heavily depended on maps, I searched our way to the park with Google map. I totally overlooked the map on their facebook account which is why I followed a different way. Together with my aunt and friend, we made our way to the park. San Simon Exit was not a bad choice after all. We drove through the greens of the fields while heading to Mt. Arayat. We even caught a glimpse of their old church. The nightmare began when we went back and forth a rough road. At first, we were told we would get there once we passed by the municipal hall. It was just unfortunate that we were passing along the wrong town. The park is at the foot of Mt. Arayat but not in Arayat town. We had been circling the same route when I decided to stop at a gasoline station. The seller didn’t know the park but fortunately knew the barangay. She gave us the right direction but I also asked two soldiers outside the store just to be sure. When we reached the end of Magalang Road, we saw a sign of Gintung Pakpak Ecopark. Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel was now in sight!

We just followed the signs and went though narrow and steep roads and behold the park is real.

Welcome!

Welcome!

When we got there, we saw some students and the parking space was full. I was just so happy we could eat. I was nibbling on crackers while driving because I was just starving. We paid the P200 entrance fee and went right ahead to find the restaurant. P50 goes to the environment fee while the remaining can be consumed at the restaurant. We ate sinigang and seafood. I love the spicy and hot seafood but did not enjoy the sinigang. I just don’t like too much oil in my food.

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IMG_1691After the satisfying meal, a staff guided us with a tour in the park.

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line of bonsai

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with my aunt and friend

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the dorm

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tables and chairs, coffee and cream, stories and friends

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one of their beautiful villas

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inside the villa

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the park’s cute pool or big basin

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we found my friend’s wedding venue 🙂

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at the restaurant

The park provides a place where you can really feel peaceful and commune with nature. I just felt connected with nature and somehow relieved from the noise of the city. After walking along the park, nothing quenched my thirst but their tamarind shake. I swear it’s the best fruit shake ever!

my tamarind shake

my tamarind shake

It was a long drive home but the experience of getting lost and going back the right path had the trip all worth it!

How to get to Gintung Pakpak Ecopark:

1. Visit their Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gintung-Pakpak-Ecopark/104946462922843?fref=ts

2. Call 09152375915 or 09288107701 or 09424545019.

3. Check their website http://www.gintungpakpakecopark.com

4. Have fun!

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My trip to Legaspi, Daraga, Donsol, and Cagraray

Published April 9, 2012 by Diosa

In every travel I take, I rely on the internet for information heavily. I’m guilty of not being able to say thanks to those who took time and put their itinerary on the cyber world. I hope this will be the first of many travelling tips and guides I contribute in the net.

Date / Time Actvities Things to Bring Fee
April 4

6:40 am

8:40 am

9:40

1:00 pm

3:00 pm

4:00 pm

Manila – Terminal 3

Terminal Fee

Manila – Legaspi

Via Airphil

Legaspi City Airport

City Tour and Donsol Transfer

Lignon Hill

Daraga Church

Cagsawa Ruins

Lunch

Embarcadero

Legaspi Blvd.

Go to Donsol

Vitton and Woodlands Resort

Standard Double

Deluxe

Register at Donsol tourism office

E-ticket. Valid ID. Credit card used

 

 

 

 

Comfy clothes and shoes

Mosquito Repellant

Sunblock

Water

P200/pax

P1918/pax

 

 

P20000/coaster/3 days

P20/pax (senior  citizen/ children below 3 feet – free)

Optional:

Zipline: P250 – 350/pax

P10

P250 (eat all you can)

P2640/night

P2400/night

*extra mattress – P300

April 5

5:30am

7:00 am

10:00 am

 

6:30 pm

Wake up

Whaleshark Interaction

Registration

Back to Resort

 

Firefly watching

Packed food and water, sun protection apparel and lotions, snorkeling gear, and underwater or video cameras, minus artificial underwater illumination devices or gadgets.  

P3500/boat

P100/pax

Optional:

Snorkeling Gear – Rental Fee P300/pax

P1250/5 pax

April 6

7:00am

9:00

 

 

 

 

 

 

4:00pm

Donsol to Legaspi City

Day tour at Misibis Bay

Roundtrip land transfers (from your hotel in Legazpi City/Hotel Venezia to Misibis Bay) Lunch at Spice Market / Dela Playa Restaurant

Non-motorized watersports activities like Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) surfing, Hobie Cat sailing,windsurfing, kayaking, and snorkeling

Use of resort facilities (Indoor Activity Center, swimming pools and fitness center)

Legazpi to Donsol

Sunblock

Camera

Swimsuit

Changing clothes

 

P4270/pax

(children 5 years and below – free, 20% senior citizen discount)

April 7

9:00 am

11:15am

1:15 pm

2:10 pm

Donsol to Legazpi

Legaspi Airport

Terminal Fee

Legaspi to Manila

Via Zest Air

Manila – Terminal 4 (Old Domestic airport)

E-ticket, Valid ID, Credit card used  

 

P30/pax

 

P1384.40/pax

 

Contact Numbers:

Albay Tourism Office: 052 4810250                                                  Vitton and Woodlands Resort:  annie.09279126313; 09178501771

Misibis Bay: 09175991590; 0524810888; 026618888                        Legazpi Tourism Office: 052 480-4956/57

Roam-travel: miggie.09175581494; 09228207954                            Legazpi City Tourism Services Unit: 052 4802698

Airphil: 052 480-7515; 855-9000                                                         Zestair: 855-3333; 052 4805005/55

Please use this as guide, don’t follow it. The travel to and fro Donsol is very tiring. If I could undo our itinerary, it was better to stay in Legaspi.

In the company of children

Published April 9, 2012 by Diosa

I had been a preschool teacher for many years now. I love the children but after spending 10 months with them I really need a break. Come March and all teachers are looking forward to summer vacation. We are seeking peace and silence with nobody calling us teacher.

I spent my summer break in Bicol with friends from work. Surprisingly, I still found good company in children. Maybe not that surprising but without trying I found myself enjoying a moment with them. It was relaxing as well as stimulating. They are witty and yes far more sensible than some grownups.

On my first day in Donsol, I was excited to see the whalesharks but only got disappointed when they didn’t surface the water. Perhaps with 30 boats all over the place, they were stressed out and hid in the deep part of the sea. It was terribly disappointing but I had been warned. We ate lunch and washed up. I was about to take a nap but decided to explore the place instead. I was eating my clubhouse sandwich when dogs started barking at the sea. It was a little intense as there were only few people and we couldn’t see why the dogs were barking. My imagination was running a bit wild. Is it a sign of earthquake or tsunami? Then, I saw the girl with her 3 big dogs. Two are German shepherds and one is a Rottweiler. The street dogs were barking ferociously and the girl teased them even more when she told her dogs to stay inside the resort. Eventually, she called her dogs and finally the other dogs calmed down. I thought this was my only encounter with her. I was mistaken. After eating my snack, I took a stroll at the beach. I was practically the only one there. I began taking pictures and went far from the resort. On my way back, she came out from her house with her three dogs. The dogs had their ears up and I felt their eyes steadily on me. She was digging in the sand when she suddenly spoke to me. She lives in Bicol and speaks English fluently. She showed me that she was digging out the glass in the sand. She asked where I came from and if I will be staying in Bicol. And all along her dog was sniffing me. I tried to be very cool because I’m really scared of her dogs. Though I know that these are trained dogs, it was still unnerving for me.

little bicolana with her three dogs

I knew Lyle since he was in his mommy’s tummy. He may be impertinent at times but he has redeeming qualities. I actually appreciated him on this trip. We were together during our firefly watching and disappointingly whale shark non-interaction. He is very caring with his younger cousin and shares everything with him. When I saw them eating snacks, the youngest was really hungry. Lyle shared his noodles with him and didn’t mind at all if he had eaten even his share. During our firefly watching, he was his usual self when his cousin said something and he told off his cousin that only an idiotic person would think about that. Unfortunately, his aunt was right there. He was clearly fighting back. He would ask silly questions and when I told him not to ask idiotic questions anymore, he came up with sensible ones. The tour guide was really patient with him but he totally pissed off his aunt. What really put him to sleep was when we talked about the natural lights like the sun, stars, and the firefly. He was leaning heavily and quietly snoring. When we got off the boat, he went to his mom and whispered that he didn’t see the fireflies because he fell asleep. The next day, I enjoyed playing table football with him. Even though he lost in all games, he was very sport and enjoyed the games too.

Lyle

On our last day, I met Theo. A four year old boy who jumps into the pool and never wants to get out of it. I was trying to swim when he showed me his water gun. He lent it to me and demonstrated how to use it. He started showing off his tricks with his gun and urging me to follow him. Later on, he got his ball and we started playing similar to football. Only in this game, we didn’t use feet but the water gun to push the ball. We were having fun and he was really nice and friendly. He is also funny. He told me that he farts like his dad. Oh! Really? He asked me if I didn’t hear it. Did you fart? He answered all the time. He’s one cute boy who takes pride in his fart.  His aunt called him to eat breakfast and that was the time when he became really upset. I told him that I’ll be swimming at the beach and be getting out of the pool too. He was sad and we said our goodbyes. If ever I have a child, I really would like it to be like Theo. He is such a charmer!

Sometimes difficult children ruin my desire of having children of my own but some children restore my faith in actually having one.

Desert Safari

Published April 11, 2011 by Diosa

Desert Safari is one unique experience in Dubai. It’s a roller coaster ride across the sand dunes. I was very excited because I would really see the desert. It’s amazing how the land of sand stretches to meet the sky and sun. When we first landed here, I was already looking for the desert and was left wondering how they built the city on loose ground. But that’s another story.

My sister booked me and my other sister at Sunflower tours. It was a good deal since she managed to get a voucher for two for the price of one. The driver picked us up from where we were staying and dropped us back. Since its a group tour, we joined another set of tourists. (Note: Its better if you are a group of six when you take the tour.) Unfortunately for me and my sister, our group was the quiet one. The two of us were showing real excitement while the other four were meditating or something. As far as I remembered, they reacted one time. Just one time. Anyway, one can’t rely happiness on others so better stay blissful and optimistic. The land cruisers lined up and started rolling. The drivers were really good because there were times when I thought that we would tipped over but we didn’t. Thankfully! I’m so impressed with their skills. The terrain changes frequently and they still know the land like the palm of their hand.

All geared up for the ride in the desert.

and the roller coaster ride pushed to its climax.

A quick stop at the camel farm. Of course we couldn’t miss the camels in the desert. You’ll know you’re near the camels if you spot prune-like thingy on the sand. It’s their poop. :)My messy hair looked like it was licked by the camels. (FYI, it wasn’t. I blamed it on the weather. It was hot and then it got cold.)

Dinner at the camp ended our safari ride. We arrived first at the camp and got to explore the place before the other tourists crowd in. Since I’m the “sulit” girl, I needed to use up all the stuff that’s included in our tour. Well, I drank coffee (I needed to drink something hot as , ate Arabic food, got my tattoo, rode the camel, and fooled around with sandboarding. I didn’t try the sheesha because I never smoke in my life. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of the evening coughing. My tolerance to self-inject smoke is limited to hanging out with my friends AJ & her hubby Jo & Serge which happens once in two or three years. Anyway, I certainly regretted not trying the sheesha when I saw the hot Italian brothers inside the sheesha room. 🙂

Gauging myself if I would ride these smelly camels. Well, I did. As darkness fell, more tourists came and rode the camels.

I think I was the only guest who did this. Trying hard to balance and slide down the cold sand.

The girl is so fast and good. She did our matching henna tattoos in minutes. Compared with the henna tattoo artists found at the beach, no one comes close to this girl’s talent.

We got lamb, chicken, veggies, and few other things that I didn’t recognize. After tasting Arabic food, I declare I’m not really a big fan of it. I still prefer Chinese, Thai, Pinoy, Italian, and even Korean.

Towards the end of our meal, the belly dancer entered and began her show.

And the dancer performed with all her belly……….dancing grace and talent

I would say that this is the highlight of the performance. Isn’t the girl just look so adorable?

Desert Safari is just one-time experience for me. It wasn’t really the ride of my life. Once is enough. I understand why nobody wants to join us after they had this tour. It’s unbelievable that my brother-in-law joined this seven times.

You know when I was in Batanes, I rode on top of the jeep along the cliffs of island. I love the blend of different colors, the sound of the waves, the wind blowing on my face and people’s smiles. Both rides have heart stopping and overwhelming moments. Both rides pose danger but surely promise an unforgettable experience. Roller coasters in theme parks won’t give you the same thrill and excitement. I know land cruiser is safer but I always imagine the desert with quicksand. What if we tip over and land on the quicksand. Thinking about it makes me gasps for air. At least at the cliff, it would be swift and I would be easily spotted. Would you like to try both?

*sulit – maximizing what you paid for

**pictures were taken by dona diaz

***check out my friend’s blog: http://annagumamela.blogspot.com/

Hanging out with the Birds

Published April 11, 2011 by Diosa

If I would name one animal that I would remember in Dubai, camels would come in second. Birds would definitely be the first. Migratory birds from Africa to Asia and vice versa usually take the route here and Dubai is lucky to be visited by these fine creatures frequently. From walking around the parks, driving the road, or simply staring in the sky, I always get a glimpse of birds soaring freely. Their flock would instantly draw my attention and I catch myself watching them. It gets more fascinating as you would see different kinds of birds in one spot.

 

Dubai Creek Park is my favorite place here. Well, I might dislike it if I happen to go there during the summer. Anyway, I like it even more when I finally had a close encounter with the birds. We saw the people in the park feeding them and we were excited to see the birds catching the food, flying around, or wading in the creek. It was only a matter of time before we became part of the group that were feeding the birds. I was happy as I watched the birds but when I saw my nephews looking at them, it was amazing. I can’t explain how those small eyes can reflect humongous amount of awe, wonder, and joy.

 

 

Yehey!

 

Can you spot the difference?

Time to rest

 

 

 

At the Top (1.3.11)

Published April 11, 2011 by Diosa

What comes into mind when you hear places such as Taipei 101, Petronas, Empire state? Well, they all made to the top list of the tallest buildings in the world. I am lucky I got to go inside the current tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, UAE. Burj Khalifa and I share same important numbers in our existence. 828. It measures 828 meters towering more than 300 meters over Taipei 101 while I celebrate my birthday on this date. It’s one fact that I’ll always remember about Burj Khalifa.

As far as I remember, we parked at the fashion avenue as it is the nearest parking and passed by the mall and went up and there was the entrance. There were so many tourists at that time and tickets were sold out. It was very tempting to scalpel our own tickets as we watched the frantic tourists trying to get inside. We had our ticket booked online. We got our tickets and waited for our scheduled tour. For those who are going with kids like us, you need to leave the strollers and big bags at the reception area.

A tour to the top is a glide in heaven for a camwhore like me.

Here’s the entrance and the walkalator going to the world’s fastest elevator.

Waiting for my turn to ride the elevator. It only took 2 minutes to get us at the top.

At the Top’s Observation Deck gives you the 360 degree view of Dubai. I was amazed how structures became so small that made them look scale models. It’s a haven for those who crave for overwhelming architectural designs. On the other side, it saddened and made me wonder what would happen to the unfinished structures. It was like being awed to one building and disappointed to the next. Another thing, I don’t know if its possible but I imagined that when I get to the top I would feel the strong wind blowing on to me. I hope that there would be an open area.

Anyway, it didn’t ruin my tour….

nor waver my enthusiasm to take as many pictures as I like.

Do you see the shadow of Burj Khalifa?

from the floor to the ceiling

My sister and I waited for the sunset. It was too beautiful and I enjoyed too much that I forgot to take the video. It’s always nice to see the works of man and nature when they blend in harmoniously. I don’t get to see Burj Al Arab and sunset together everyday. Do you?

These were series of designs before the final Burj Khalifa.

We saw a wall of the people who helped built the building. To be part of something big and historical, I could only feel pride and happiness for the fellow Pinoys I saw on the wall.

Did I mention I am a camwhore? Well, the following pictures would show a definite proof of what I claim to be. And as we headed out, I turned this walk-a-lator to my own fashion runway. Thanks to Ate for taking all my pictures, Ate Liezel for my “boots made to walk all over you,” and myself for shamelessly posing. :)))

By the way, they took a picture of our group upon entering and it cost AED250. A total rip off if we had bought it. Basically, the group shot was pasted on Dubai skyline. At night!

You know when I was in Hong Kong, I went to Victoria’s peak. They captured a great shot of our group with the Hong Kong night skyline behind us. Something people behind At the Top should do. A picture worth spending for.

Marlboro Hills

Published April 11, 2011 by Diosa

If someone mention Marlboro, what’s the first thing you think of?

 

I would definitely answer the Marlboro cigarette tv ad. Remember, the very masculine cowboy steering the wild horses at the terrainous hills.

 

Marlboro Hills in Batanes is very far from the killer commercial. It is majestic, beautiful, and takes my breath away in a very very healthy way. It has no more horses because breeding them proved to be more costly but less profitable. It’s alright that there are no horses and it was not a disappointment. I don’t think Batanes could ever disappoint me. From the first moment I caught a glimpse of the islands from the plane, I’m pretty sure the beauty I’m seeing up in the clouds has more to offer when I’m actually immerse in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

heights and depths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hedges and plains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nature’s harmonic orchestra

 

heavenly feeling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blinded by the burst of colors of sunshine and landscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, who can resist jump shots?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

enjoying the view ala-F4 in meteor garden

 

 

 

 

 

loving the sun and earth

 

 

 

 

 

Come to where the flavor is…..

 

Marlboro Hills.

 

we love it so much, we went back the next day.

and here’s a video of the heavenly place. (pictures and video were taken by my sister, dona)