Saturday, April 22, 2017

Wandering in Gigantes Islands and Boracay

After I went to Balabac, Palawan, I chanced upon seeing this majestic place in one of the TV networks in the Philippines and I promised myself that this spot will be my next destination next year.

Seafood is cheap and great!
Islands are close to each other and uninhabited.
Waters are pristine and crystal clear.
People are very accommodating and hospitable.
Accommodation is very affordable.
Truly, it is the next best spot after Palawan.

my small boat ride to Gigantes

How to get there 

From Manila

Take the domestic flight from any of the servicing flights either to Iloilo or Roxas. Cebu Pacific, PAL, and Air Asia are the air carriers servicing the route.

From Iloilo, take the bus/van bound to Carles. Travel time 2-3 hours. Fare is P180.

From the airport in Roxas, Capiz (best route), take the tricycle ride to the van or bus terminal (situated in different spots) bound to Estancia. Fare in the trike is from P100-150. Travel time is 10-13 minutes. Alight in Balasan (in case you are going to Carles) . Fare in the van is P65. Travel time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Fare in the Ceres bus is P75.  Trips in the van starts from 6 am and ends 6 pm. There is no direct bus or van from Roxas to Carles. This is the Carles route. From Balasan, board the tricycle (P50) or motorcyle ride (P100-150) to Carles or wait for a bus from iloilo bound to Carles. Bus usually passes every 30 minutes to 1 hour. Balasan to Carles is 12 kilometers.

Should you decide to board the pumpboat in Estancia, then alight in Estancia. From Balasan to Estancia, it is likewise roughly 12 kilometers.

Please note that there are two piers going to Gigantes either in Carles or Estancia.

Public Transport/Common Carrier
A.CARLES PORT to isla Gigantes
 Trip schedules - 8am, 10am (sure), 2pm

From Isla to Carles
Trip schedules - 10am, 2pm, 4pm (sure)

B. ESTANCIA PORT to Isla Gigantes
Trip schedule - only 1pm

LANGUB PORT (Isla Gigantes)
There are three (3) ports in Isla Gigantes, namely: Langub (Norte), Lantakan (Sur), and Asluman. Langub is the passenger port going back to Carles (4pm, 1 hour, P80) and Estancia (1pm, 2 hours, P80). Trip schedule to Carles is twice a day, 8 am and 4 pm everyday to Carles. Boat ride to Carles can hold only a maximum of 30 passengers. While the boat going to Estancia can carry more than 30 passengers.

The best place to go to isla Gigantes is via Carles port since it is nearer and it has more trip schedules than Estancia. The trip from Carles is only 1 hour while from Estancia to Gigantes is 2 hours.

Bancal Fish Port is the name of the port in Carles. This is the best spot to buy your seafoods. It is a lot cheaper here than buying them in the islands.

Charter a boat
If you are going to hire a boat in Isla Gigantes, the price ranges from P1,500 - P2,500 depending on the number of passengers (usually 10 pax).

If you are going to charter a boat in Carles going to Isla Gigantes and vice-versa, the price is P5,000 inclusive of your meals.

At Terminal 3 in Manila, Ms Jhe Gellado, messaged me and helped me find my boat ride in Gigantes.

  Lovely (boat operator) - 0950-257-1092 / Racil (assistant of Lovely) - 0930-319-4578 

From Bancal port, I chartered my own boat since I did not want to wait for the 10 am trip. I am planning to finish the tour only in 1 day. We left the port 6 am. It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes before I reached our first spot - Pulupandan Island.

From Pulupandan, I decided to go to go to our next spot. We arrived at the Tangke dock before 8 am and it was still closed. But we asked permission to go inside and take pictures while the lagoon is still on low tide.

Fortunately, we were allowed to enter and this is what the Enchanted Lagoon or Tangke looks like during low tide. We stayed only for 5 minutes and decided to take our breakfast at Lovely's house.

 From the Tangke, it took us only 10 minutes before we reached our destination. 
Gigantes Sur

I took my mouthwatering breakfast consisting of grilled fish, grilled squids and crabs. After the breakfast, I boarded a bigger boat en route my island hopping experience. Gigantes Sur is the place to do your spelunking activity. The cave is called Pawikan Cave. It takes a 30 minute hike before reaching the entrance of the cave.

Our first stop after breakfast - Cabugao Gamay or Selfie island.

This is the most photographed island in Gigantes. This is also the best spot to take your selfie or groupie.Entrance fee is P50.

The island offers several spots to take your souvenir shots. This island is the place to explore. i highly recommend exploring the island and discover new sites and experiences. 

After spending an hour in the island, I boarded the boat and along the way, we passed by another island called - Cabugao Dako

And now my favorite island - Bantigue sandbar.

Why is this my favorite island? It offers crystal clear and pristine waters, affordable seafood such as the P1 scallop, and this is the best spot to camp and watch the sunset.

This the best spot to swim, frolic in the sand and do your sunbathing!

You can spend the night here for only P200/pax inside a big tent or  also P200/pax in a small tent. Che-Che (0946-039-3565) is the focal person in the island. You can also have your paluto here.

This spot is famous for its wasay-wasay (scallops),  Bali-ad or Bay-ad and other seafoods. The scallops is P1/piece or a minimum purchase of 100 pieces. Price ranges from P100-200 per kaldero.

You can also enjoy grilled fish and grilled squids and the price is on a per kilo basis. Normally, it takes 30 minutes to cook the food and wait for your sumptuous lunch. You can also order rice, mineral water and your snacks in this island.

Another place to enjoy the seafood, camping and the beach is the Antonia Beach. It has an entrance fee and the next best island to spend the night after Bantigue Sandbar. You can do your snorkeling activity in this island.

The  best spot to enjoy the finest sands is in Mini-Boracay. It also offers the next best place to take a dip after the Bantigue Sandbar. You can also do your camping in this island.

After Gigantes Sur, we went to Gigantes Norte.

I was delighted to hear that there is a lighthouse in the island. I did not hesitate and I immediately hired a habal-habl ride to the lighthouse. Habal habal ride is worth P200 for a 15 minute ride or an hour hike. Lighthouse is one of my favorite spots to visit in my local tours.

Reaching the spot, I was told I can go at the top of the lighthouse provided I ask permission from the caretaker and luckily for me, I was allowed and from the top I was able to see the landscape of Gigantes Norte. There is another spot to visit in the vicinity, it is called Bakwitan Cave.

And for my final destination of the day, I went back to Enchanted Lagoon or Tangke.

The Lagoon!

After the Lagoon, I boarded the 4 pm boat back to Carles Port. I decided to use public transport in order to experience the one-hour ride. Arriving in Carles, I hired a habal-habal ride to Balasan for P100 and in Balasan, I waited for my bus ride to Roxas. Past 8 pm, I arrived in Roxas City and slept at Capiz Lodge. Following morning, I boarded the van going to Kalibo. Travel time is almost 2 hours and the fare is P150. Arriving in Kalibo, I boarded the van to Caticlan for P100 and travel time is only 1 hour. But I alighted in Toledo, Nabas to visit the family of my office mate Jemn Candoleta.  I was welcomed by her family and took my lunch in their home. After lunch, her father was kind enough to tour me around Nabas and we went to several cold springs.

Toledo, Nabas has both sea and river attractions. Most importantly, it has coldsprings. Among the spots we visited, Hurom-Hurom Resort is one of the best spots. Past 12 noon, I decided to bid goodbye and boarded the van ride to Caticlan. Fare is only P20.

  After a 10-minute ride, I reached Caticlan Port. I immediately bought my boat ticket to the other side. And after 10 minutes - Boracay!

From Station 3, I walked to Station 1. This is my fifth time to visit the island. One of the reasons I went back is because of my return flight to Manila in Caticlan.

I was able to find my accommodation in Boracay in Station 3 courtesy of Ms Renzie Carig. Her aunt Ms. Catherine Pablo (0906-255-5083) owns a place called Cottage Queen in Station 1, Balabag, Boracay. It is a 30 second walk from my room to longest beach in Boracay.

The room is clean, cozy, comfortable and the hospitality of her aunt is remarkable.

I rested for nearly two hours before I decided to go out of my room and strolled along the beach. The sailing boats of Boracay occupied the scenery as we await for sunset.

I patiently waited for the sunset.

And the sunset unfolded...

I slept soundly that night. It was Good Friday and there are no night activities in Boracay. The following morning (Black Saturday), I roamed around Boracay and past noon I went to Caticlan airport for my return trip to Manila.

with Ms. Lovely

Special Thanks to the following:

Ms. Lovely - Gigantes Islands
Ms. Jhe Gellado - Gigantes Islands
Ms. Jemn Candoleta - Toledo, Nabas
Ms. Renzie Carig - Boracay
Ms. Catherine Pablo - Boracay
Mr. Arnel Pineda, the singer - for my souvenir picture

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Exploring Taiwan

After dreaming for nearly a year, last December 2016, I finally went to Taiwan.
Special THANKS to my FEU student Ms. Nicol Afundar for my itinerary and  for almost all the things and information in this travel blog! =)

Day 1

Travel Essentials: EasyCard (Yoyo card) QR code reader 

Budget hotels to consider in Taipei: Star Hostel Taipei MUIU Capsule Inn 

Taipei Attractions: Taipei 101 Elephant mountain Yehliu Geopark (Rock formations) Jiufen old district (*Mango shaved ice) Chang Kain Shek Park Sun Yat Sen Park Taipei Zoo Maokong Gondola Yangming Shan Beitou Hotsprings Tamsui 

Kaoshiung Attractions: Love River Liuhe night market or Reuifeng Kenting National Park (Beach) Buddha Memorial Center (Fo Guang Shan/ Giant Golden Buddha) 

Shopping Districts: Taipei Shilin Night Market Raohe Market (Clothes) Ximending Market (Branded/gadgets) 

Food to try
Ximending – Misua 
Jiufen – Mango Shaved Ice 
Taipei Sanbao Fan/ Asado Rice 
Taipei 101 - Din Tai Fung Dumplings

The Travel:

I was supposed to have the City Tour in the morning but I decided to have the afternoon tour in the itinerary prepared by Ms. Nicol Afundar.

From TamSui Line. I took the MRT Red Line to Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf Boat.

Arriving at the wharf, I transferred to the opposite side via the round trip boat transfer.

I explored the other side of the spot using the bike that I rented.

Then, I went back to Taipei for my City Tour.

First Stop: National Palace Museum

I'm in Taiwan!

Second Stop: Traditional Taiwanese Temple.

Third stop: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

This is one of the best spots to visit in Taipei. 

The structures are simply fascinating!

A place to explore, wander and get lost!

Picturesque  view!

Fourth stop: Presidential Building

Day 2
Kaoshiung Tour

From Taipei, Keelung City,  I took the high speed rail (bullet train) to Kaohsiung, Gushan District. The price of the fare is more or less PhP5,000. It took me 1 hour and 36 minutes to reach the city. Fastest speed was 330 km/hr.

Shouzan Zoo 
How to get there:
Upon arrival in Kaoshiung main station, Formosa Boulevard, switch MRT lanes from Red to Orange. Alight at Yangchengpu Station (Orange Line) and proceeed to Shoushan National Park. Hike or ride the Bus 56 to Shoushan National Park Shoushan Zoo.

After the zoo, I proceeded to Pier 2 Art Center (Southwest from station) and tried to have the Love River Cruise (30 mins via solar-powered boats). Unfortunately, the tour was available only at night. 

Later, I proceeded to the Lotus Pond. I took the MRT ride back to Formosa Boulevard and switch to RED lane. Then, alighted 5 stops to Ecological District Station. From that stop, I took a 20-minute walk to Lotus Pond.

Places to explore:
Tiger and Dragon Pagodas
Spring and Autumn Pavilion
Shrines and temples

Last stop for the day was the Ruifeng Night Market.

How to get there

Ride MRT from ecological District to Kaoshiung Arena.  Head west to night market.

Unfortunately, there are days when the night market was open and it was closed during that day.

Day 3
CHIUFEN Chiufen Village and Northeast Coast Tour 

How to get there
Take Railway to Ruifang Station (roughly 40-50 min ride). 

Tour stops: 
Chiufen Village Pitou Cape 
Nanya Rock Formations
Bay of Two Colors

Jiufen Old Street

After my 4 hour tour, I went back to Taipei and proceeded to Maokong Gondola.

Last stop of the day,  the most famous attraction in Taiwan - Taipei 101

During my stay in Taiwan, I made it a point to visit the famous night markets in Taiwan, namely: Shilin Night Market,  Raohe Market,  and Ximending Market. My personal favorite is Raohe for its various street foods.

Day 4 

I did not finish all the spots in my itinerary. Instead, I went back to some my favorite spots. My reason - I intend to go back to Taiwan and continue my journey at a later date.

I will surely miss the street foods in Taipei.
Till my next visit!

Again, special thanks to Ms. Nicol Afundar!

The Itinerary