(It’s been a while — like a 295 days kind — I must admit. So, as I celebrate this blog’s almost 100,000 visits and change of domain name/address from theadwanders.wordpress.com to thediaristwanders.com, I’m finally blogging again!)
I’ve always loved sunsets — that’s known. But when you have a baby (yes, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl!) who’s awake and lively at sunrise, you don’t have much choice but to get up and enjoy the morning sun too. So, on our trip to Anilao, Batangas (it’s actually in the municipality of Mabini), little Tara Freya decided she’d like to have some vitamin D while along the shores of Balayan Bay (we stayed at Arthur’s Place Dive Resort). Mommy needed some vitamin sea too, actually. 🙂 But, tell me, which do you think is a more beautiful sight — our smiling little one or the backdrop of her happiness? Anilao is a great place for sure but I won’t trade Tara and that smile for anywhere else.
Roughly 4-5 hours from Manila lies Fortune Island, a semi-isolated-used-to-be-super-private island off Nasugbu, Batangas. They say this is as close to Greek’s ancient ruins as could be possible, with the clear blue waters as your backdrop! Who would have thought that the typhoon destruction to an uber exclusive island paradise would result to a steadily becoming popular destination for beach bums and island campers? Known for its picturesque rows of Athens-like pillars and half-destroyed half-gorgeous statues, Fortune Island gives each traveler a nice reward for climbing atop the stairway-lined hill that leads to it’s “viewpoint ruins” and, as my friends saw and experienced, cliffs and caves. To reach Fortune Island, take the San Agustin Bus line at Coastal Mall in Pasay, going to Nasugbu (3-4 hours, PhP 200-220 AC (about $5), PhP 130-150 (about $3.5) non-AC). From there, take a 15-minute tricycle ride to Fortune Resort Dive Center (pre-booking necessary with caretakers Mang Dante 09394895292 or Chris 09087225628 is necessary) which is the jump-off point to Fortune Island. The 45-minute 10 pax-max boat ride costs around PhP 6000/$135, plus PhP 400/$9 island entry fee (overnight price, negotiable; day trip is cheaper). With upper limit calculations, that’s about PhP 1250/$28. Add in food, booze and other expenses, a beach camping (yep, no rooms) weekend at Fortune Island would be about PhP 1700/$38 which, I must say, is quite cheap to “experience” Greece and of course, enjoy the Philippines’ endless summer with the company of family and friends under the sun and stars. [Special thanks to Hazelle for organizing this CouchSurfing trip back in May and providing all these info I’ve already forgotten.]
While I’m on a 15-minute break (which I’m not sure I can afford given my day’s to do list) after an official errand and enjoying an expensive coffee for the sake of a planner I don’t even use, I figured now’s as good a time as any to write about the Taal Volcano lakeception! Believed to be the smallest volcano in the world, Taal Volcano is one of the most popular natural wonders in the Philippines, with it’s craters being a lake within a lake within a lake. As a traveler, I’ve always had the image of Taal Volcano as in the picture-perfect crater cone you always see in Tagaytay, a popular highland tourist destination 2 hours or less south of Manila. The thing is, the “crater” we see is apparently nothing but a “dead” big mound of land. The actual crater, shown in this photo, is located in the island at the back (if your viewpoint is from Tagaytay) of the big mound. After a 20-25 minute outrigger boat ride (PhP 1500/5pax, PhP 500 for guide which I think you can skip) from the mainland jump off point and a 1.5 hour easy trek (PhP 50 or 100(?)/pax entry; normally it’s an hour only but we walked leisurely, taking photos now and then), we finally reached the crater. I’ve never been on a volcano before so I didn’t really know what to expect other than that of the photos. And nope, I was not disappointed! The Taal Volcano crater was calm and peaceful, the opposite of the exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping feeling you get when you stand near the edge of the “red lava” area (additional PhP 50)! If you have even just a spare day and especially if you’re with friends, you should totally do the Taal Volcano trek — it was really cool and awesome! 🙂
I know it’s already five months overdue but still, I would like to write a personal post about my 26th year, highlighting the travels I’ve had and the people I met along the way.
Contrary to my 25th year’s travels which were mainly as a solo backpacker or with a travel buddy, 2013-2014 was more of a group travel kind for me. It’s also during this span of time that I’ve met several important people in my life — from CouchSurfing acquaintances to really great friends, and from total strangers to favorite companions and partners in crime. And yes, ’twas also late last year that I met someone whom I’m looking forward to have more travels and adventures with.
In one rather sunny August day, me and some friends from couchsurfing decided to push through with a quick weekend escape to Laiya, Batangas — a coastline of white sand about three or four hours from the paved highways of Manila.
We actually talked about the trip a week before but weren’t really sure if we’d push through. Laiya isn’t exactly known to the Manila populace as a cheap place for a quick getaway. When you say Laiya, it’s possible that the first thought are the big and fancy resort hotels that charge you about 4000 per person for the weekend — which, I think, for the services, amenities and package food menu that is included is just fair for a touristy weekend vacay.