June 8, 2017

Travel Notes: Sirao Peak & Sirao Flower Garden, Cebu

Armed with my little Bisaya, I took a motorcycle taxi to Sirao Peak. My driver was a chatty fellow - he spoke with me in Bisaya, and I tried my best to understand. Sometimes we were both laughing - but probably at different things - because I suck at Bisaya for now :|


We arrived at the jump off in a little more than 30 minutes. It rained in the area so the trail was a bit muddy, but manageable. I must admit, I still get jitters when I do solo hike no matter how minor the climb is. I can't help it though, doing some things solo excites me!


The trail started off as a rolling hill, with cows occasionally crossing your way. As you ascend, you'll get to the part covered with trees. Just continue walking upwards and you'll reach the campsite shortly, and just 10 mins away is the summit. It was a straightforward climb, and the summit can be reached in less than an hour (or perhaps I was walking fast because I was afraid of the dark, huhu)



Upon reaching the summit, I got confused. Because I was alone, there was no one to validate if it's summit already. To be honest, it kind of felt lonely at the top since I had no one to high five with, no one to say, "we did it!" and generally there's just no one to celebrate it with. It was the first time I felt that way. 

What a weird feeling.

The surroundings were definitely beautiful. But perhaps sometimes you gotta share this beauty with others to fully enjoy it. I couldn't wait to go down and do just that.

This time, I was the chatty one with my driver, and in my broken Bisaya :D

Getting There & Others

Habal Habal from JY Mall to Ayala Heights - P300/motorcycle/way

Since I was alone and no one to share the motorcycle expense with, I negotiated with the driver for P400 back and forth with a sidetrip at Sirao Flower Garden. He agreed! This all in my broken Bisaya. Whaddup yo! Hahaha!

Saw this at Sirao Flower Garden

See you around!
Arlet

PS

Seeing blooming and wilting sunflowers at Sirao Garden was a deep experience for me. One minute you're so beautiful, at the top of your game, achieving your life's purpose; Next minute, death looms.

*Sunflowers die after it shed away seeds (the seeds of next generation.)

For us humans, we live and we touch other people's lives. So when we die, we hopefully leave a legacy that positively affects the circle of life. We live on through them. Padayon.

May 14, 2017

Travel Notes: Bangantalinga, Iba Zambales

I like the place because (1) it was not crowded, (2) it has fine white sand, (3) it has clear water, (4) it had activities to offer, and (5) our host (a colleague) and her family were very accommodating and helpful! Thanks Gwen and Family!!!


I am not a good host at all - I don't take care of guests, nor attend to their needs. I just let them be - I tell them, "food is in the fridge, here's the kitchen if you want to cook, and please clean after yourself." This is why I do not dare invite anyone to my hometown.


Activities:

We arrived around 7 in the morning, and immediately set up our tent. The responsible ladies in the group went to the market to buy stuff and prepare for lunch. The rest either slept, sang karaoke, picked mangoes, or played by the beach.

Mango Picking

I was strolling by the beach and saw some locals catching jellyfish that were washed up in shallow waters. These jelly fish don't sting, but tourists were scared of them so the locals caught them with a long metal stick :(

The responsible ladies prepared a splendid lunch!

Boodle fight

Say HALLOW to my lovely team!
After resting a bit, we went boating, snorkeling, and fish feeding (aka vomiting in the sea) - eeep! Seriously though, don't drink, swim, and pass out guys!

There were lots of corals here, but mostly dried up :( good thing there were still small fish roaming around, but I hardly spot them - I have terrible eyesight, especially underwater.


Sunset by the beach

We went back to our tent fulfilled, hungry, and ready for dinner! Yey for a good day!

After dinner, I drank beer to sleep soundly - bad idea because there was no decent toilet around - I had to improvise a little when I couldn't keep it anymore :D

Capping of the night: Stargazing

Getting There: Place was far, we spent around 4-5 hour from Manila to Iba, Zambales.

See you around!
Arlet

April 30, 2017

Mt Sawi Daytrip Notes

Difficulty: Easy, Mt Sawi circuit can be finished in 4 hrs with plenty of breaks.

How to get there: Bus from Five Star/ ES Transport Cubao to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija , then jeep from Cabanatuan to Gabaldon (but earliest jeepney trip may be around 6am)

Expenses:

P20 - Registration per head
P500 - Guide for up to 10 people (The hike was easy and quick so I was a bit disappointed with the guide fee especially if your group is small, and do not need much helping)

Hiking Notes & Tips

Start early. Hydrate properly. Bring sun protection such as caps/ shades/ sunblock/ umbrella, etc. The hike may be easy, but the humidity and heat can make it excruciating. We climbed 7am and was back before 11am, but the heat was already enough to make it difficult for me to breathe.

Good for beginners - nice view and easy trail.

You can also do a twin hike of Mt Sawi and Mt Mapait

Photos

View from Summit

Simbahang Bato

Cogon grasses trail

See you around!
Arlet

April 1, 2017

Mt Sipit Ulang Daytrip Notes

Mt Sipit Ulang Summit (Sipit Ulang translates to crab claw)

Activities: Hiking, Caving, Rock Climbing & Rappelling, Swimming (Falls)

Difficulty: Mostly easy, can also choose to do some tricky rock climbing parts which may be scary for beginners. These parts can be skipped too, without affecting the original trail.

How to get there:
Fx from Farmers Cubao going to Eastwood Montalban – drop off at Total Gas Station, 1hr (50php/head)

Tricycle to Brgy Mascap Jumpoff , 30 mins (30 php/head or 150 php/tryk)

Budget & Expenses:

Transpo (back and forth) – P160 / head

*For going back from Brgy Mascap jumpoff to Eastwood, you might need to pay for the whole tricycle because there are rarely other passengers going back,

Guide - P500 / group (no sidetrip, max of 5 people)

Travel Notes & Tips

The trek to summit is around 2hrs including LOTS of picture taking and stops already. It can be finish in an hour if your group is not as addicted to picture taking as my group was :D

The trek from summit back is less than an hour

Bring headlamp for the caving part (Phone flash light is okay too, but then you won’t be hands-free)

Use small day pack for the caving part (Full pack is okay too, but challenging to fit some of the cave trail)

No river crossing (summer season, around March)

Gloves will be of big help for rock climbing since the rock formations are sharp

The trail we took are as follows: (1) Snake Trail, (2) Tanawan Bridge, (3) Paniki Trail, (4) No Name (as of March 2017) Cave, (5) Summit.

You can also do twin hike or side trip to Payaran Falls.

Photos







See you around!
Arlet

Caliraya Resort Travel Notes


Activities: Obstacle course, Cycling, Swimming, Kayaking, Fishing, Golf, Zipline, Bonfire, Hanging Bridge

How to get there:

I went there via private transpo, and just used Waze, but I suggest you allot 3-4 hours travel time. I headed out late, thinking that I was just going to nearby Laguna and travel would be max 2hrs, but it was actually far, and was near Pagsanjan already.

Travel Notes and Tips

I enjoyed my stay a lot even if I didn’t get to try all the activities, due to bad weather and late arrival in the area. The staff were nice and accommodating

Because of the bad weather, I stayed indoor the whole day for my first day. Good thing the hut in the fishing village had good ambiance and amenities. Had I stayed in a tent, I might have been sulking the whole day.

Better to eat in the Residence Hotel area rather than wait for the food to be delivered in the clubhouse. There is a free shuttle to and from these locations.

See you around!
Arlet

January 29, 2017

I Bet on Myself (Mt Damas Dayhike)

"If my knees hurt on this climb, I'm going to completely give up the hopes of being (and actual training to be) a mountaineer this year"

Last therapy session at Tokyo Healthlink Makati

This was a bet I made with myself when I joined the Mt Damas climb. It was the first climb I did after finishing my almost 2 months of therapy. I was hopeful for the result of the therapy but was not expecting much since my knees hurt even from daily activities like walking and sitting in the office. I think it was a time when I couldn't tell myself honestly that everything will be fine - and I can still aim for the summits.

I read about how Mt Damas is a small but terrible mountain. At only 685+ MASL, it was considered a major climb, with a 6/9 difficulty level, and around 10hrs of trek with various trail categories.

Feelings

I was anxious. I didn't know if I wanted my knees to hurt or not. But I did not want to test myself carelessly in an uncontrolled environment such as a mountain - it's dangerous for me and the group, and disrespectful to the mountain itself. Hence, I made sure to prepare as best as I can.

It was still dark when I opened my eyes. But the light was taking over as we moved. It was a good morning :) The light takes over every morning, is that not enough reason to say that the world is perfect?

Trek Proper

The trail started of as a wide plain, and then there was a 2 hrs of river trekking with few rock climbing. Afterwards was a continuous 1-2 hours of pure assault and sharp cogon grasses to the summit.

Wide Trail

River trekking

Roped segment

I got blisters on my feet soon after starting the trek. Afterwards I got several cuts on my hand and arms from the cogon grasses. Nearing the summit, I felt bruises on my shoulder from the pack that I was carrying. And although my knees don't hurt yet, I feel its clicking already.

"Am I losing the bet?" I thought.

For a moment, I was actually scared to lose the bet to myself. It was a sudden realization of what I wanted to accomplish at that moment.

But I still haven't lost The Bet...

I requested for a quick stop to change into my rubber shoes to relieve the pain from the blisters. I rolled up my arm sleeves to protect myself from cuts. I fixed my knee support. I gulped some water, and breathed out, "I'm still in the bet."

I was now more careful with my steps. I tried to distribute the weight of my body correctly. I used my upper body whenever possible. This is perhaps the most mindful I've been ever since I started hiking.

The summit was within sight, so I calmed my mind to avoid unnecessary fatigue from stress.

Summit and Ubod Falls

We passed by Cardiac Trail to and from the summit, but to be honest I do not remember which part is it, since I feel most part of the trail made my heart pumped fast anyway. Not that I'm complaining - I like that feeling of being so alive anyway :D

We took some photos in the summit, and headed down to a place with shade to have lunch. I was so hungry that I did not enjoy the summit that much.

Sab in the summit, Oye!

View from the summit

Tree (Reminds me of the tree on Tarak Ridge Summit)

After having lunch, we headed to Ubod Falls. The trail from here was mostly river trekking and bits of rock climbing. I had mini heart attacks whenever I slipped because I didn't want to jump forcefully and cause any strain on my lower body.

I'm still in the bet after all.

Ubod Falls is breathtaking. I remember gasping when I saw it. I was sooo amazed. I hear the rushing water from the top, and chill from the cold breeze it produced. All my senses awoken at that time.

It was beautiful.


Ubod Falls

Group shot!

Expenses

Bus from Victory Liner Cubao to Tarlac and vice versa - P404
Tryk from Camiling to Papaac - P30/head
Tryk from Papaac to Camiling - P50/head (more expensive at night)
Guide fee - P500 / 5 headcount
Registration fee - P20

Hiking Notes

Wear thin arm sleeves during summer to protect yourself from sharp cogon grasses and not feel too hot. Also wear open finger gloves, pants/leggings, and thick socks if you're like me who gets wounded easily

Bring headlamp if there's a possibility of your team getting delayed with the trek.

Always be extra careful and guarded - it's very easy to slip and be seriously injured during river trekking.

Epilogue

Of course I won the bet :)
I'm not the betting kind, but I guess I'll bet on myself anytime.

(c) Miguel

January 8, 2017

Just Keep on Walking (Mt. Tangisan Dayhike)

I opened my eyes, and I was still on a tricycle bound to Mt. Tangisan. I was about to close my eyes again when I noticed the beautiful surroundings - the sky so blue, clouds white and puffy, breeze cold and refreshing. "Good morning indeed!"

At the jumpoff

Mt. Tangisan is one of the mountains that make up San Jose Circuit, a 17-18km loop mountain trail in Tarlac. Loop trail means your entry point is same as your exit point, but the trail you follow is different - unlike in backtrail wherein you just trace back your way. Since the group wanted a chill climb, we only trekked Mt. Tangisan.

Mt. Tangisan, Tarlac

Mt Tangisan trail is exposed, and is a mix of loose soil, tall cogon grasses, and cow dung. Nonetheless, the views of rice paddies and nearby provinces are spectacular - Mt Arayat can be seen towering the horizon from a distance.

Obstructed View (hehe) from Mt Tangisan Summit

The trek to the summit took us about 2 hrs with moderate stops for rest and picture taking. Overall (on a not-so-sunny-but-no-rain day), Mt. Tangisan climb is a pretty straightforward climb - just keep on walking and you'll reach the summit - no crawling, spelunking, rolling, rock climbing, river crossing, mud sliding, etc. Just keep on walking.


Mt. Tangisan Summit

Getting There and Expenses

- P204 - Bus from Five Star Cubao to Siesta (Bus bound to Dagupan but not via TPLEX)
- P600 / 2 pax - Roundtrip tricycle ride from Siesta to Jumpoff and vice versa
- P350 / 6 pax - Guide fee for 1 mountain dayhike

Tips 

- Beware of cogon grasses and amor seco. Wear sleeves or pants if you can so you avoid itching.
- No need for river crossing (contrary to most blogs) anymore because they erected a bridge already
- No washroom in jumpoff because the water pipelines haven't been setup - bring wet wipes if you want freshen up after the climb
- The road to the jumpoff is rough so better charter a jeepney rather than tricycle from Siesta to jumpoff.