I didn't appreciate travelling before more than I do now, thanks to my mom for spoiling us with trips here and neighboring SE Asian countries (if she's lucky enough to find us a cheap and good deal). I'm actually thankful since she's very much involved and hands-on with our vacation trips. During trips, she keeps on telling me paano na lang kapag ikaw na lang mag-isa bumabyahe e di ang gulo ng gamit mo? Those remarks somehow challenged me that I can afford to give myself a decent trip...moreover, I want to show to her that I can survive for days without her assistance. But of course, things are very different when she's around because I can guarantee you that she really knows how to be a doting and caring mother hehe.
I'm somehow addicted to travels now. I find myself thinking and planning for a perfect hotspot. My head constantly aches out of confusion as to where to go next considering there are many beautiful and interesting places that need to be explored here in our country.
Part of my internet ritual is checking out the websites of our local airlines hoping to snag some cheap airfare tickets that would fly me to places of "high interest" (the likes of Boracay, Davao, and even Cebu) and the other on sale destinations (San Jose, Mindoro and Tacloban for instance). If you noticed I didn't mention or entertain the idea of going outside the Philippines all by myself simply because I know that my humble earnings as an employee would not suffice and besides, I'm too scared to travel outside the country without my parents. Going out of the country would be too expensive...maybe when I'm already earning even 30k a month, I'll consider that idea.
Aside from the local airlines' websites, I'm also fond of just googling cheap *insert destination in my mind here* accommodation and my eyes would feast and eventually give up on the many found items. I can't help but feel that I'm torturing myself as I browse the said results especially after seeing the places to visit that comes with pictures!I wanna contact the person in-charge of the tour right there and book a slot for me and my friends but my wallet always shouts, not now.I'm in the middle of a financial crisis. Boo you wallet!
I never forget to visit the Travel and Leisure section of PinoyExchange.com that became my sort of travel bible. I can still remember back in 2009 when we're preparing for our Cebu-Bohol trip, I consulted the threads to know the must-trys in the place. I can say that the thread is helpful because of the members who unselfishly share and give tips on how to make the trip worth keeping. I would also waste my time reading each thread because it gives me the feeling that somehow, I've been there because of the pictures that I saw (c/o some of the members). What I also really liked about the said section is that it introduces me to different, unique, and sort of the "unexplored places" aside from the usual Baguio, Tagaytay, and Boracay which are the more popular and fave destinations of many.
One night, my eyes suddenly caught the Unspoiled Calaguas Island thread. I was intrigued and so I decided to familiarize myself with what this unspoiled island has to offer. I was surprised that many people were raving of how beautiful the place is, how clear the water is, and how fine and white the beach's sand is. Some even claimed that the island's sand is more powdery than that of Boracay's. Hmmmmm, really, huh? I became more curious. So after reading from one post to another and seeing pictures of the island, I told myself: why not? The place is a beauty in itself and not too many tourists go there because: one, it's not that commercialized; two, people want to be seen plunging in the waters of Boracay during summer but not in this unknown island; and three, TWO-HOUR BOAT RIDE! 'nuff said.
Luckily, Shelly and Dez approved of this place. I am too happy that they did because I instantly fell in love with this island that I would defend why we should pack our packs and spend a night there even if it means sleeping in tents!The trip is on despite our wallets' protests. We made it clear to our dying wallets why we made that suicidal move. We deserve to unwind. We deserve to have even just a simple vacation. We deserve some summer bonding. WE INVOKE OUR RIGHT TO GET BURNED UNDER THE SUN, BUILD SANDCASTLES, AND COOL OUR BODIES IN THE WATER!
The trip that almost didn't push through
Since we're not born to be millionaires and blessed with a high-paying job, money became a factor why did this trip almost got cancelled.
I was very excited even during the planning stage of this trip. I religiously do my own research on how to get there and what should we expect in this never-heard-before island. My friends also did the same thing. The challenging part of this whole planning stage is sticking to our cheap budget that ranged P2,500-3000 at max. There are many local groups that offer tour packages that, unfortunately, starts at P2,800 (without the transpo) and could hit to a whopping P3,800 (all-in package) via a very well-known travel agency. Seeing these prices instantly broke our hearts so we decided to try a DIY trip which is more challenging, cheaper (I think), but with too many hassles like providing your tents,bringing your own food to the island, and how to carry all these paraphernalia to the bus. Good thing, Shelly's friend has a contact who manages a cheap package to Calaguas so we decided to just tag along with their group. By the way, the package costed us P2850 (for a minimum of 12 people in a van) each that covers transportation, boat rental, food, tour guides, and tents. We settled to avail this package. The trip is really on!There's no backing out now.
Or so we thought.
With a few days left before the big day, some of the original cast members in our group decided and almost decided to call the trip off due to financial constraints. So from the prospected eight members, we're down to five now. No problem, we'll still make this happen. I should go there this summer, whatever it takes.
And so the trip starts...
We left Manila at past 10pm already and squeezed all 13 of us inside a van that could only accommodate 12 haha! Anyway, the trip was toooooooooooooo long that Shelly and me almost ran out of stories and corny jokes to tell just to ease the boredom of this almost nine-hour journey. Adding to this tortuous trip is the fact that we can't sleep comfortably. Remember, the capacity of the van is only for 12 people plus the bags and coolers were also inside the van. Talking about comfort haha!
So after passing 10 towns, more or less, we reached Daet just in time for Amang Araw to greet, welcome, and congratulate us for surviving the looooong, bumpy, and zigzagy-ish road travel. Whew!
Daet, which is under Camarines Norte, is the gateway to Bicol since this is the first town that you'll pass. This will also serve as the gate to heaven as we continue our quest to set foot in Calaguas Island.
We reached the town proper half an hour before eight and quickly grabbed our breakfast in Jollibee. After that, we headed to Vinzons port to start this journey rolling.Unlike other ports, Vinzons port is more of a fish port where you can see small fishermen boats waiting for passengers. There's also a talipapa where you can buy fresh fish. Without wasting our time, and since our boat is already there, we boarded the motorized banca to prepare for a two-hour boat ride without a life vest on! Hahaha! Talking about bravery at its finest hahaha. The boat ride is very loooong that at times, I'm tempted to sleep but since there's no life vest on, I didn't gamble since I'm afraid that I might wake up feeling the cold waters of the vast sea and realized that I already fell lol. Luckily, the water is very calm and peaceful all throughout the trip maybe because the waters knew I don't know how to swim haha. The trip got longer and more boresome as time passed by...until we started seeing the beauty of God's nature at its finest.
I kept on telling myself, shit ang ganda!Pwede na kong mamatay! more than five times, I think. The scenery was soooooo beautiful, I really can't believe that such site exists and that I'm actually seeing it right before my two big eyes O_O! The mountains are very greeeeeeeeeeeen, as in! My breath is simply taken away with such picturesque view.Shit talaga, and ganda!Pwede na kong mamatay! Pero babalik pa ko dito kaya wag na lang muna.
As our boat got closer to our final destination, the wows and aaaaahs became even louder especially after seeing the white coastline and trees already seducing us like prostitutes in brothels.Waaaah, I really can't believe that I'm such a lucky bitch to see this very beautiful place. Simply sublime. The long boat ride is worth it....really worth it.
We wasted no time taking advantage of this beauty. After we settled our things and tents (a big thanks to our tour guides who assembled it for us since we're not campers haha) we hang out for a while and nagpapakiramdaman if we're ready to burn ourselves alive in the middle of the crazy hot weather! Despite the burning sensation that we're already feeling, we're too grateful that the weather, even if it's extremely hot, was cooperative enough.
|This is paradise!|
Check out our photo ops in the island:
|The girls and the beach.: Enjoying Calaguas Island!|
|Welcome to Calaguas Island! It's our first time here haha|
|Thank you for the good weather, Amen.|
|Date with Domo|
|The "accidental jumpshot". Notice the "evolution" of the jump shots|
|When I say jump, you say how high|
|And this is our trademark jumpshot from now on ;p|
Lunch was served at past 12 already. Afterwards, we laid our sarongs under the trees to steal some power naps that lasted for two hours!Hahahaha, we're dead tired that's why you can't blame us, bleh ;p I woke up feeling very sweaty and all but I feel energized more than ever!
|Footprints in the sand, c/o my flipflops hehe|
|I will no longer be fooled in this game haha!|
I didn't get to enjoy the night since my head ached terribly. Bad timing! So instead of planning to drink even a bottle of tanduay ice and stay up late until the tour guides turn off the lights, I have to excuse myself. I missed a true bonfire experience because of that!Boo you headache!
One interesting thing I discovered though is that tanduay ice makes a good combination with paracetamol!Tanggal ang sakit ng ulo! Hahaha!
|Bonding with the Bozars|
|Look what do we have here as company|
|That's Dez trying to catch the crablet|
|Our "headquarters." Klaris' camera and tripod marked our territory|
I was awakened at five in the morning to the sound of raindrops dripping in our tent. Oh no no no no!This is not happening!What if the rain got worse?Surely we'll be stranded in this island that do not have any signal at all. No no no no, our parents will surely panic if ever we got stranded since they expect us to come home that day.
Luckily, our prayers have been answered and the rain stopped. As we wait for our breakfast, we cooled ourselves in the water again. After eating, we packed our things and prepare to leave the island.
|Good morning sunshine!|
|Early morning emo-ness?|
|And fnally, goodbye Calaguas...for now|
|Our tour guides|
|Vinzons Port: our jump-off point to Calaguas Island|
We're back in Vinzons Port at past 12 already and we were brought to this resto that I didn't bother to get its name due to our bad experience. While the food that they served is just alright, their service is as slow as a snail. Okay, we get it that we arrived there at lunch time and there were too many guests already. We don't mind waiting long but getting the orders all mixed up is something that's unforgivable. Even handing our changes took them soooo long.Tsk.
We didn't want to ruin our day because of that experience so we decided to leave all the negative vibes in that resto.
Next and final stop: Bagasbas Beach.
|Pay before you banlaw.|
|This is us! Enjoying the waves.|
Bagasbas Beach is actually famous among surfers and those who want to try it because of its humongous (okay that's too strong haha) waves. The moment we get there, there were already some people riding their surfing boards and having the time of their lives. Honestly, I envy these people since I'm such a chicken to try a water sport for the simple reason that I'm not a mermaid in my past life despite me being a Piscean at present time.
So without any surfing boards, Megs taught me a new card game, which by now I totally forgot what is it all about. You see, I'm suffering from short term memory loss especially when it comes to card games haha. But what I clearly remember is that I beat her more than she beat me. Wuhooo, I'm a playing cards expert now beating the veterans. I even had a successful campaign during our pusoy dos tournament back in the island haha!
When we got bored, we decided to feel the waters of Bagasbas Beach. Unlike Calaguas, the sand in Bagasabas is not white at all but greyish black. We passed time enjoying and playing with the waves.
The good thing about Bagasbas Beach also is that you can wash or take a bath comfortably as CRs are provided unlike in Calaguas where you're going to rinse off the sand from your swimsuits or panties in front of a deep well with other people waiting in line for you to finish and have their turn. Banlaw costs P10. If you're going to look at it, the price's cheap but if you'll think about it, they should have waived it since we already rented a cottage from them. Oh well, business as usual, it is.
We left Bagsabas Beach past four already and had our pasalubong shopping back in Daet town proper. I think it was 6pm when we started traversing the roads that will lead us back to Manila. The rain, darkness, and zigzagy roads made my trip back home uncomfortable. I really prayed hard that God will bless our trip.
|Remembrance: photo op with our tour guides|
And He did...as always :) We we're back in Shell Mc Kinley-Edsa at past 12 all tired and weary but very refreshed and contented with our weekend escapade.
|The survivors (L-R): Me,Shelly, Dez, Kla, and Megs|
By the way, here are some of my learnings during the trip:
- travel time is flexible. That's why there's such a thing as EXPECTED time of arrival/departure. A six-hour drive can become a nine-hour drive due to some factors.
- never trust the people who told you they'll come unless you see them face-to-face during boarding/departure time. LOL
-always be ready with the sudden change of weather. It doesn't mean that just because the sun shone brightly in the morning, it won't rain in the evening.
-DON'T BE SHY TO BRING AN UMBRELLA WITH YOU AS YOU WALK ALONG THE BEACH'S SHORELINE!
-stock up on food and water in case food ration gets delayed. Thank you San Marino Paella :)
-don't drink too much liquids and pee especially at night. You don't know the treasure that you'll find inside the CR. remember, it's a public toilet. PUBLIC TOILET.
Aside from my learnings, this trip made me discover one fact about myself. I am not that maarte when it comes to eating rice mixed with sand or eating using my own hands or swim in the waters despite knowing that many people are already peeing that time. I realized that I AM NO CAMPER who can just pee or deposit my waste anywhere. I AM NO CAMPER because I don't enjoy sleeping in tents and imagined myself sleeping inside, at least, in an econo room. I AM NO CAMPER at all since I worry too much of the mosquitoes or if our things are safe in the tent.
Maybe, I am a backpacker or even a flashpacker, as Klaris said, but never will I be a camper.
On the brighter side, I really get to enjoy this trip as in!I already promised myself that I will be back in this island in the future. But for now, bye Calaguas Island, Bye Bagasbas Beach. It's nice to know that you both exist in reality. Until I see you again ♥ ♥ ♥