Over the weekend, I had a really fun, active and amazing beach camping trip with fellow CouchSurfers and friends at Grande Island in Pagbilao, Quezon. We played Frisbeach (frisbee at the beach), Tug of War and Takeshi bang bang! Add drinking brandy under the stars, eating smores and Banana de Hanne (chocolate-stuffed char-grilled bananas), playing with magical luminous planktons, and the pleasure of CouchSurfers’ company — yep, an awesome 27th Frisbeach Weekend indeed! Home to the so-called Puting Buhangin (translation: white sand), the Grande Island also has the Kwebang Lampas as it’s main attraction. Kweba means “cave” and Lampas (with the meaning earlier debated in the group) in this case means “through” — you can enter the cave from the main beach on one end and then come out on the other end of the beach. We only went to the cave at low tide so no swimming through for us! We were so enamored (big word! haha) with the beauty of Puting Buhangin –sand so white, sky so blue and water so clear — that we only checked out Kwebang Lampas the morning before we departed!
How to get there: The area where we stayed is not the easiest to reach, especially on public transport. We left the Jam Bus Terminal in Buendia at about 3am (fare P210), arrived at Lucena Grand Terminal at about 7am, had breakfast and then got on a rented jeepney to Pagbilao to do our supplies shopping. From there, we proceeded to Brgy, Ibabang Polo (fare if total commute: P20 (?) to Pagbilao, P35, for Ibabang Polo and 50-100 for tricycle) as our final land transport stop. Towards the end of the Pagbilao Power Station, a coal-fired thermal power plant, we took a short banca (outrigger boat) ride to Grande Island (P185, including camping fee). From this point, and carrying all the supplies, the 18 weekend campers set on foot for about 10 minutes (seemed like forever!) navigating through some kind of forest trail. It was almost 10 or later I think when we finally reached the “entrance gate” of Grande Island. Give or take our stops, that’s about 5-6 hours of travel! But again, the charm and pull of Puting Buhangin and Kwebang Lampas more than compensated for it!
A Portuguese aristocrat girl falling madly in love with a local Goa fisherman (a love story), then choosing to take her own life by jumping from a cliff when their relationship was forbidden (a tragedy), and centuries after mesmerizing, or haunting, tourists or locals as she emerges from the sea amidst the moonlit waves, wearing nothing but a pearl necklace (a myth) — this is the story of Dona Paula. Well, at least the version that adds a romantic flair to its namesake scenic tourist destination in the suburban district of the capital city Panaji (or Panjim) in Goa, West India. I never really saw the statue of Dona Paula when I arrived at Ashwin and Aki’s place along the Dona Paula Bay with my VSO co-vol/CS buddy Rajie and our Goan CS host Warren, nor did I hear the tale about the statues watching over the Mandori and Zuari Rivers as they unite with the Arabian Sea. However, even when there is already a proven historical account of the life and existence of Dona Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior, I don’t fault the townsfolk or the tour guides if they choose to tell the romantic story instead. While the Dona Paula Bay and its natural beauty can’t be denied, a love story and a little mystery add to its charm, right? 🙂
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.
In my desperate attempt for a weekend escape from all the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila, I turned to newly-found and not-yet-met CouchSurfing friends and folks to go surfing at Zambales!
But of course, backtrack a little bit: most of us got bottomless on tequilas and hit the dance floor first (Payback Friday mode at Agave and 7th High) before hitting the beach! Special thanks to Jen for organizing, Craig for keeping our bags at his pad, and Abby for the magic password for Guest List at 7th high!
Realizing that the Zambales group actually consisted of people from India or has lived in India, love Indian food, or just willing to try the spiced cuisines, it was decided to have an Indian dinner at Kapil’s home before going to the Thirstday venue which is just two blocks away.
As we were in a vegetarian’s home, and because Indian vegetarian dishes are yummy in the first place anyway, all of the food prepared were various vegetable dishes that are quite common in India. I think this gave the dinner cook-out a very “uniquely Indian” touch. On the to-be-cooked menu: arhar dal, rice, paneer bhurji, potato greenpeas curry, chole masala, boondi rayta, and parantha. Had to drop by Swagat for the additional chapattis and papadom! Continue reading FoodieFriday: Indian Thirstday and Western Wednesday with CouchSurfers→
Life is short so take a leap of faith. Let’s wander, explore and discover. Come and journey with me.